Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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> view. She's been telecommuting for several years from her home in Reston, Virginia, and loves it. She has three children and works part-time around their schedules to accommodate her workload and their needs. A self-proclaimed workaholic, she wakes up at 5:00 a.m., works until her kids rise a few hours later, peppers in meetings at convenient times throughout the day, and then goes back to work when her kids fall asleep. As a mom, she can't imagine it any other way. Debate in the Media Te vast diference between Swiontoniowski's and Silvers's opinions and experiences sheds a light on the ferce debate over telecommuting. While some people fnd telecommuting liberating and in line with fexible arrangements (especially when it comes to children), others see trouble in the lack of structure, personally and professionally. Tis conversation made international headlines in early 2013 when a confdential internal memo from the Yahoo! human resources department detailed a new policy: as of June 1, 2013, all Yahoo! employees would be required to work from a company offce. Te backlash to this directive was intense on both sides. Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, at that time a pregnant 30-something, received strong ribbing from the press and other business leaders. Sir Richard Branson tweeted that he was "perplexed" by the policy change. "Give people the freedom of where to work and they will excel," he wrote. Mayer was called unsavory things in the media, and the backlash from working moms was intense. "My frst thought was, 'You have to be kidding me,'" says Sara Sutton Fell, a working mom and CEO of FlexJobs, a subscription job-hunting service for telecommuting positions. "I was really, really surprised that a leading technology company was essentially going back to the old days, especially 36 D IV ERSI TY W OMAN Fa ll 2013 vs. after giving employees iPhone 5s." She is referring to news that in 2012, Mayer and her team gave each employee an all-expensepaid smartphone (iPhone or other brand). "What do you think they need that phone for—to reach them in the ofce?" Sutton Fell rhetorically asks. "No, it's so you can reach them out of the ofce, which is working remotely or telecommuting. Tey [Mayer and Yahoo!] don't want to give any credit to that fact, which is very maddening to me." Not all business owners agree with Sutton Fell's sentiments. Debbie Madden is CEO of Cyrus Innovation, a software consulting frm based in New York City. Only a few weeks after the confdential Yahoo! memo was leaked, she penned a Hufngton Post piece under the title "Why I Agree with Marissa Mayer." In the article, Madden argued that the debate was "not about individual productivity; it's about company productivity. And collaboration is key to fostering innovation." Is Collaboration an Issue? Talking over the phone several months after the release of her Hufngton Post piece, Madden stands by her opinion, especially on the topic of collaboration. Her frm, she says, thrives most when employees are in the ofce, because people can talk with one another in person and collaborate more effectively than if chatting over the phone. Exceptions are made when a stafer needs to be home to let in the cable guy or pick up children early from school, but on the whole, her employees are required to work from the ofce. Sutton Fell argues that telecommuting is an excellent option for any role, even if collaboration is involved. "I challenge business owners to talk with their teams about what d i v e r s i ty w oma n.com THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM We Mean Business

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