Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer came up with her controversial and hugely unfashionable policy of outlawing home working after doing something almost unheard of for a US CEO – she checked the VPN logs to see whether anyone was slacking.
According to the reporter who broke the news of the ban, Mayer told told a staff meeting last week that the logs told her that some employees weren’t using the VPN often enough.
The reasoning was simple and non-technical; if employees weren’t using the VPN they couldn’t be working or contributing to Yahoo as a company.
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” Mayer said in her widely-leaked memo announcing the orignal ban, sent to staff on 22 February.
“That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. […] We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together,” she added.
According to report, the company’s several hundred remote workers were told to start working in the office full-time from 1 June.
Is the ban a brilliant piece of internal PR to bolster the workaholics inside a struggling company or a policy mistake made by a self-confessed ‘numbers woman’?
Going against the prevailing view that asking employees to trudge to work is a hangover form the 19th Century, Mayer has faced a barrage of criticism from outside the company.
However that Mayer is a CEO that knows there even such a thing as a VPN log, not to mention how to draw conclusions from it, marks her out as a CEO of a different, more technical ilk.
It was a huge shock last July when Mayer bailed from Google, a company she famously joined as employee number 20, to head perennial struggler and dot.com refugee, Yahoo. The remote working ban may not be the last controversy of her rule.