Scream all you want but don’t Yahoo! at home

There’s something ironic, perhaps disconcerting, about a tech company built on people’s ability to access it from anywhere forcing its employees to work in the office rather than at home.

And there’s something equally head-scratching that a new mother, hired in her third trimester to take over a Fortune 500 company, who was viewed as a role model for shattering glass ceilings would issue an edict that goes against the grain of allowing working families flexibility to do their jobs. It’s almost, well, man-like.

Welcome to the world of Yahoo!, where an internal memo telling workers to report to the office by June 1 or find another job is causing quakes inside and outside Yahoo!’s California headquarters. While some CEOs, mostly men, were split, reaction from the working masses to the dictate by new CEO Marissa Mayer has ranged from muted annoyance to outright outrage, with little sympathy for one of the legacy tech companies.

Yahoo was originally an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” one that many see fit to hang on Mayer. Mayer was lured from Google last summer when she was six months pregnant, giving working women everywhere hope that families were no longer an impediment to advancing up the ladder. That a major multinational company would lavish a five-year, $117 million contract on a 37-year-old mom said louder than any commercial could: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

But perhaps admirers should have taken a longer analytical look at Mayer’s approach before holding her up as the family role model. Mayer took a two-week maternity leave then had a nursery built at her own expense adjacent to her office so she could bring her son Macallister to work with her. She once said the baby has been “way easier than everyone made it out to be.” That may have been the impetus for her to short-circuit the telecommuting crowd, figuring what’s the big deal, but not fully realizing not a lot of families have a $23 million annual salary to build a day care next to their cubicle.

In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd quotes Mayer’s friend Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, who wrote the world of technology is “changing the emphasis on strict office hours since so much work can be conducted online.” Mayer must not have gotten the memo.

The memo from Yahoo! human resources basically said those who worked from home were potential slackers and the creative juices flow more freely when intermingling with co-workers rather than hanging in a bathrobe chasing around a toddler with soiled diapers while trying to write code for the next great Yahoo! innovation, which, truth be told, has been a while.

Experts and telecommuters both panned the approach, especially given the source. “She’s in a technology company, and she’s running a technology company. Technology companies are usually on the vanguard of these kinds of virtual workplaces,’’ Boston College management professor Brad Harrington told NECN. “It’s very unusual for a technology company to say, ‘Well, if you’re working remotely, you’re really not connected to the office.'”

Other stories cited studies that showed productivity increased when workers were given the flexibility to perform some of their responsibilities from home. “It would not be possible to raise my son the way I feel it is my duty to do, and work in an office,” Whit Andrews, a tech analyst and single father of an 11-year-old son from Shrewsbury, told the Globe. “For me to do my duty with this boy, this flexibility has been essential to my sense of self-worth as a father and as a worker.”

But fear not, Yahoos, which is how the company refers to its workers, there is some flexibility in the new rule.

“For the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration,” the memo says. That is probably so the Internet line can be installed so you can use Yahoo! from home – on your spare time, that is.

                                                                                                        –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

The Telegram & Gazette lists the 10 lawmakers receiving the most per diem payments for travel to and from the State House. Two are from Worcester.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Event organizers are expected today to announce plans for “Boston Calling,” a first-of-its-kind two-day ticketed music concert on Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini, in his State of the City speech, announces that a restaurant and sports pub will be opening the the former Hotel Whittier, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Richard Oakley, who lost in his bid for the chairmanship of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, is challenging the results of Sunday’s election, saying the nearly 20-to-1 margin he lost by doesn’t add up.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Keller@Large thinks the sequester threat is much ado about nothing.

New Jersey becomes the first state to license in-state internet gambling.

Chris Christie gets snubbed from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

ELECTIONS

The GOP Senate primary is shaping up to be a three-man race between Rep. Dan Winslow, Gabriel Gomez, and former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, WBUR reports.

NECN has video of Boston City Councilor John Connolly announcing his run for mayor. In his campaign kickoff, Connolly targets high salaries in the city schools’ bureaucracy.

Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun PAC wins its first primary — the runoff for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s empty House seat.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The CEO of Footprint Power shows a model of the proposed natural gas plant in Salem that will be replacing the existing coal plant. He describes the new plant as “a bridge to a time when renewables are the predominan source of our energy,” the Salem News reports.

The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, worries that the bankruptcy of Revel, a new resort casino in Atlantic City, may have lessons for Massachusetts.

Even before the sequestration cuts begin, the state’s defense contractors have already begun laying off workers and putting projects on hold amid the uncertainty.

The Fall River City Council voted to give small businesses a $10,000 personal property exemption, though it does not apply to any business with property valued above that level.

Home sales are rising because new home builders are pairing expensive custom homes, federally backed mortgages and borrowers with checkered credit histories.

EDUCATION

The state education board approves a new Saugus charter school by a 6-4 vote despite controversy over the school’s Turkish connections, the Salem News reports. The Item story is here.

The decision by the Landmark School in Beverly, a private school for children with learning disabilities, to keep a 1990 sexual abuse suit against a former teacher quiet is now coming back to haunt the institution as more allegations arise.

TRANSPORTATION

The feds order all Fung Wah buses off the road for inspections, WBUR reports.

The Patrick administration is proposing tripling the operating funds for regional transit authorities, a move a new MassINC report says will bolster jobs and economic growth especially in Gateway Cities.

Governing explains how Philadelphia’ transit system became the best.

Things aren’t all bad with the recession. The Plymouth & Brockton bus line reports its ridership has increased because of the economic downturn as commuters look to save money.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a conference yesterday the federal government is poised to sell leases for off-shore wind turbines south of Martha’s Vineyard. At the same conference, Cape Wind developer Jim Gordon invited Salazar to the groundbreaking for his 130-turbine project later this year, CommonWealth reports.

The state is conducting its own noise test on a controversial Scituate wind turbine even as the town undertakes its own study.

RELIGION

The New York Times casts the Vatican conclave as a gathering of checkered characters, one that features a special guest appearance by Cardinal Bernard Law.

MEDIA

The father of 9-year-old Brockton rapper Lil’ Poopy has a record of drug arrests going back 12 years. Meanwhile, YouTube has removed Lil’ Poopy’s sexually suggestive video from its site as state officials explore child abuse and endangerment allegations.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

Variety shuts down its print edition and drops its online pay wall in what it calls an end to an error.

A white fashion model causes an uproar by posing as an African queen, the Daily Beast reports.