What are you willing to give up?

Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer caused more than a stir when she banned telecommuting for workers. The backlash was fast and ferocious, especially from critics who were quick to accuse her of turning back the clock on workplace flexibility for working moms.

Let’s be honest here. People telecommute so they can reduce the conflict between work and personal life. But at Yahoo, like so many other firms, your ability to succeed pretty much depends on what you’re willing to give up. In Silicon Valley that means an 80-hour work week, to start. Telecommuting is for people who don’t want to give it all up. Which is fine for the companies, because there are plenty of people who are happy to give their whole lives to their careers.

I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. What I am saying is that Yahoo’s decision is not a women’s issue; it’s a productivity issue. And for whatever reason, Ms. Mayer determined that Yahoo’s telecommuters were not as engaged (or innovative or efficient) as those at Yahoo’s office.

Marissa Mayer earned a reputation as one of the hardest workers at Google. And she is the first CEO in US history to deliver a baby while running a Fortune 500 company. If anything, she’s a poster child for a successful woman in business. If she wants Yahoos to give up more for the job in order to make her company more competitive, it seems to me she’s earned the right to do so.

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