Margareta Pagano: Going ga ga over the blah blah and goo goo at Yahoo
Margareta Pagano is a former business editor of the Independent on Sunday who now writes columns and business interviews for a range of publications, including the Independent, Independent on Sunday and London Evening Standard.
Sunday 03 March 2013
You would think that Marissa Mayer, who runs Yahoo, had burnt her baby and the entire sisterhood at the stake for all the vitriol she's received after suggesting that staff get back into the office.
It's not just the mumsy bloggers who have been having a go at her but the polo-necked Silicon Valley techie types too. They say Mayer has dragged teleworking back to the cave-age, that she will kill morale and prompt top staff to leave, and that she's a hypocrite because she has a nursery for her new baby next to her office.
What poppycock. Ms Mayer – an engineer by training who created the memorable Google page – was hired by Yahoo last year to get the web portal working again after a couple of terrible years. She took on the job while pregnant and went back to work three weeks after the birth, so the nursery makes complete sense. Turning Yahoo around is going to be an enormous job for any one person, so you can see why she wants to see and talk to her colleagues and that they should talk to each other. Ms Mayer must have good evidence for hauling staff back in; maybe the previous regime was too lackadaisical? If she has made a mistake, it's assuming that people work better in the office – most of those moments in the cafeteria or by the water-cooler are spent on intrigue rather than brilliant ideas. Indeed, some of the greatest inventions have come from people lying down – Archimedes discovered the principle of displacement in the bath, Isaac Newton was sat under a tree when gravity struck him. Now Ms Mayer needs to play sharp and win staff back on side – she should think about opening a crèche for everyone to enjoy, not just her own baby, McAllister. That'll keep them quiet.
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