Yahoo seeks to reboot notorious company culture

Summary:CEO Marissa Mayer's home work ban is crucial to rebuilding Yahoo.

There's been much written lately about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer pulling back workers from their home offices as if it's an attack on telecommuting and the productivity of home-based workers.

It's neither; it's Yahoo trying to reboot its company culture, which has been kindly described by one observer as "notoriously dysfunctional and disorganized". It's been going on for years, and it's time to press the reboot button.

But company culture can't be remade through telecommuting. It has to be done physically and emotionally.

Mayer knows that changing Yahoo's culture is key to success, and that she faces a very rocky road.

Successful company culture changes at IBM and Hewlett-Packard provide some good case studies and useful pointers, but the first place to start has to be to get all staff onto the same page, into the same rooms, and just be together. Company culture is built by a people-to-people mesh network that always works best in the flesh.

Groups create culture, and successful groups create a winning company culture, which can spread and help motivate all parts of an organization. I've seen that happen at several Silicon Valley companies.

Also, there is also an opportunity to crack the whip a lot harder and bake that into a new corporate culture. John Gapper, writing in the Financial Times (below), sees a broad trend by many companies trying to boost staff productivity.

Image: Financial Times

"This is an age of harder work. From intense teamwork at the top to monitoring and surveillance at the bottom, managers are squeezing more from employees than they previously would have dared."

And having staff in an office together creates a peer-pressure effect that pushes them to work harder.

This isn't a bad thing. Gapper noted, "I would prefer to work hard at a successful company than idle at a demoralized, lethargic one."

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Topics: Tech Industry


In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to become a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley. Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leading comput... Full Bio

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