business people stretching the rope in the stadiumBy now, anyone who is anyone (in the working world) has heard of the Yahoo! Telecommuting controversy with its new CEO Marissa Mayer. But, for those who aren’t as up-to-date with their news, let me recap:

According to the site AllThingsD in an article by Kara Swisher, Mayer decided that, beginning June 2013, all employees who work remotely for the company must report to in-office facilities. According to the story (and alleged angered Yahoo! employees), workers must either comply with the new changes or resign.

Many of the hundreds of workers this new mandate will affect did not take the news happily. A lot of the remote workers originally took their positions because of the flexibility in the roles.

And Mayer’s reasoning(s)? In part of an internal memo, she writes:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Mayer has received a storm of support and backlash as debates uprooted on the work-family balance issue. Is she puting working mothers and fathers at a disadvantage? Should that even be her concern?

Assistant Professor of Management and Organizational Development Jamie Ladge, of Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim School of Business, is a nationally known speaker and academe on the intersection of identity, careers and work-life integration in organizations. Ladge has weighed in with some thoughts on the controversy. See what she had to say below:

Jaime Ladge

Jaime Ladge

1. On one hand it’s great this issue has received so much attention because it keep the work-life conversation alive and highlights the need for cultural shifts in organizations. On the other hand,  It’s too bad it went public because it has the potential to put to shame women leaders…no one would be talking about this as much if it was a male CEO who enforced the policy change (even though they should). We may forever remember MM as the one that did this rather than something else (e.g. becoming among the first women to be hired as a CEO while pregnant).

2. I’m not an advocate of the change and think it sets firms back – especially if others follow suit but I do think there can be some merit to face time for some employees during times of extreme change (she’s trying to turn the company around so that only can mean that big changes may be in store). It is difficult to involve and educate key employees around big change if they are not physically present. But is this necessary for everyone? Lots of questions around how this impacts worker morale and what happens to workers who negotiated that as part of the reason they joined the firm come to mind. What is the impact across different generations and working parents?

3. This really hurts any employee who is struggling to integrate work and life demands and came to the organization because of its flexibility. It’s not just a particular issue for working mothers but for dads as well. How will they compensate for this?

4. Flexible work arrangements don’t work for every job but there needs to a justification for why it doesn’t work for an entire organization.

We want to hear your thoughts, readers. What do you think of Mayer’s recent mandate for Yahoo! remote employees and its affects on work-life balance?

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