When Marissa Mayer took control of the reins at Yahoo she promised to shake things up. But when the new CEO decreed that Yahoo employees would no longer be permitted to work from home you’d have thought she was trying to strip them of their first amendment gun rights. Outside the realms of racial bias, sexual conduct and overseas working conditions, seldom has what amounts to an internal human resources decision been subject to such media attention and public furor.
After more than a decade of movement toward greater personal autonomy in the work place, Ms. Mayer’s decision was seen by many as a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Employees that enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home found the decision arbitrary and unsettling. Many home workers, including single parents and mothers of young children, have been able to maintain their position in the work force and continue their careers primarily because of the flexibility working from home offers.
In an era when work-life balance is undergoing a paradigm shift, the ability to work from home has been considered a valuable asset, both by workers and many employers. Society no longer places the same value on work that it did when our fathers’ or grandfathers’ primary focus was on bringing home the bacon and the family he brought it home to took a distant back seat to his job. Men are now not only expected to take a greater role in family life and in management of the home, but most want to.
Of course, men haven’t been the only ones affected by social change. Women have become an integral part of the American work force. Unlike the stay-at-home moms of previous generations, they work not only because they want to, but often because their salary is needed to support the family. The era of one-salary families is over. In today’s economy it takes two salaries to purchase and maintain a house, raise and educate children through the college years and provide for a comfortable retirement.