Of course, you have heard all the noise about the decision of Yahoo’s CEO to eliminate all work at home, requiring everyone to report to local offices. All the uproar I have heard is about the outcry of employees who now have to modify and change and take on a commute or find childcare, etc. etc.

I want to talk about another aspect of this decision. Every CEO has the right to change the work rules at any time and she does seem to have a good reason for wanting employees to work together in teams. So what did she do wrong?

Whenever you are introducing a major change, it can be very disconcerting to employees and even scary. It is very important how you communicate the change and it can make the difference between a smooth transition and the uproar you are now seeing at Yahoo.

First mistake: going all or nothing. Rather than totally eliminating the work at home, why not go with core times that you require everyone to be in the office and allow the flexibility of working at home a couple days a week. That would have been more palatable. Secondly, why not put a time limit on the change by stating that you will try this new approach for six months and then take another look at it. That gives the CEO an “out” if the decision has a negative affect.

Big mistake: Having HR issue a memo announcing the change. Nothing good ever comes from HR. It was a CEO decision, she should have made the announcement. How about a You-tube video of the CEO talking personally to the employees and giving all her reasons for the change. It might go something like this:

“I need your help. We all know Yahoo has been struggling in the marketplace. I was brought in to turn this situation around so we can move forward as a technology leader once again. I can’t do it alone. I feel we need to team together to come up with solutions as a group. With all of you working independently, it’s difficult to do that. I would like to have all of you come to the office for three days a week and for those three days, we will be collaborating together to move forward. I know you value your being able to work at home and I appreciate that it will be a sacrifice to make the change but I think it is very important for our future. I promise I will keep you updated on our progress toward our goals and will review this decision again in six months. I hope I can depend on your support.”

Would that make everyone happy? No, but I think it would have been a much better approach. The attitude now is that she doesn’t care. I agree overall that everyone in the office every day is old school. Yahoo is high tech so why not use some of the high tech tools available to “get everyone together”.

Need help communicating and implementing change in your organization? Give me a call and let’s discuss.