Re: Yahoo

1

So is Marissa Mayer a sell-out?

I doubt the new policy was imposed on her so perhaps "sell-out" is the wrong word.

I read somewhere that the employees who have the most problem with deferential behavior towards their boss are also the most demanding of deferential behavior when they are the boss (because they are very sensitive to status indicators).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:28 AM
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@1 I believe "kiss up, kick down" is the expression you're looking for.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:37 AM
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Actually, I realized that I misread the comment. "Most problem with deferential behavior towards their boss".

I read right past the "problem" part.

I actually tend to think that the "kiss up, kick down" pattern is more common.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:40 AM
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Even though I spend most of the day on the computer or in meetings, I have found that actually being here is much easier for getting things done than working remotely. Partly it's because remote technology still sucks- I just find it hard to get a word in at some meetings when I'm on the phone vs. in person. I also have fairly important discussions just running into people- I guess if I were formally working remotely I could remedy that, and maybe even be more efficient, by specifically requesting information from people instead of remembering it when I bump into them.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:41 AM
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I would get much more work done if I stayed home most of the time. But I think it would be perceived as doing less work, because no one ever actually reads publications.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:54 AM
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I would be a little less productive at home, but god almighty would I love to stay one one day a week. I could probably learn to amp it up, but right now my productivity is largely driven by being scheduled within an inch of my life.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 7:58 AM
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7

I feel like my time is increasingly scheduled and it makes me totally unproductive. Meetings are almost never useful at all, as far as I can tell. I don't see why people are so eager to have meetings all the time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:03 AM
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8

||

Also, just to vent: I've got our big Math Club outreach project this weekend. We do it every year, etc. Much less onerous than taking kids camping.

Admissions has paid for lunch for everyone, sending everyone over to the cafeteria, in exchange for giving all the high school students a little spiel about why they should come to Heebie U. These are students who are basically not considering Heebie U because they're academically much stronger than our students - they're the type of student who spends their Saturday at a math competition.

Yesterday Admissions told me...

OH THIS STORY IS TOO STUPID TO CONTINUE.

The upshot: jerking me around two days before the competition pisses me off so much. Let me know about policy changes when they occur, and I'll plan for them. But do not fucking waste my time two days before an event.

I am disproportionately angry. I need to calm down.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:04 AM
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I think 6/7 basically reflects a teaching job vs. a research job. I'm not trying to accomplish any research during the semester - just stay on top of teaching, meeting with students, responding to problems as they arise, grading, committees, etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:07 AM
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OH THIS STORY IS TOO STUPID TO CONTINUE.

Where would this blog be if that kind of attitude predominated?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:08 AM
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Somehow that gave me a vivid Friends flashback of Joey saying "I had a dream last night...I don't want to talk about it," and Chandler saying "What?! What if Martin Luther King had said that?!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:11 AM
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But even in research, collaborators keep wanting to meet all the time even when none of us have done any new calculations so there's nothing to talk about, students who I've given some problems to get started on to try to ease them into research want to keep meeting even though they haven't tried to solve the problem yet.... It's like people think that if we all sit around and talk enough, somehow magic will happen.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:16 AM
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13

You can't sell out if you didn't pretend to have principles to begin with. Mayer said from the beginning she was not a feminist.

Also, by now, you'd think I'd be used to seeing people who are dramatically younger than me be dramatically more successful than I am.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:18 AM
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14

I don't see why people are so eager to have meetings all the time.

Meetings - the practical alternative to work


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:18 AM
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15

Calculations? Why don't you go out and actually measure something?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:20 AM
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16

I try to work from home one day a week. I was pretty productive until my wife went on maternity leave. She doesn't really get it.

'Have you done much work today?'
'You haven't stopped talking to me since 9am.'
'You can always tell me to go away.'
'I have, repeatedly.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:42 AM
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I don't get a lot more work done when I work from home, but one of my colleagues is great at it. She works in the office from 10-4:30, leaves to deal with her kids, and does several more hours of work from about 9-midnight. It's a good thing she's not at Yahoo! or she'd have to pay even more for childcare.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:47 AM
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18

In my experience 14 gets it.

A lot of it seems to be why the manager (or whoever is arranging the meetings) was hired. If the meeting arranger's goal is to please customers, then they spend a lot of time trying to share that vision and feel that explaining how important it is to talk with customers, here are case studies, etc. The managers from the technical side tend to run "lets balance workloads and here's some training" type meetings.

The worst though are meeting crashers. The boss who is invited out of obligation, despite being out of production/not interacting regularly. When they're there, meetings seem to devolve into "let me get a word in edgewise so I feel important", "let me explain how my work gets you time and budget," "listen to my tale of how I wrestled support out of IT/a vendor", "Why do you actually hold people to the law? If you were just nice and let everyone build flimsy, non-access compliant structures, they wouldn't come complaining to me and trying to get exemptions."

Okay, maybe the last is unique to my field.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:49 AM
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19

Some of my work is research [not academic research, more standards/metadata type things], and some is reading tech docs, and some is coding. None of those things is really the bulk of what I do, but enough that five or six hours a week somewhere quiet away from other people, is a definite boost. Plus my commute is long. So even if I slack off a bit at home, drinking coffee and reading the paper, or whatever, by the time I get to my usual 'home time' I've done more actual hours than I would if I was commuting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:09 AM
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Also, while 14 is often true, I'm finding that meetings are sometimes the only way to get any bugger to do things. A few minutes with a white board is a lot quicker than trying to write things down and circulate by emails which people will ignore.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:10 AM
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I've lived and seen a few versions of this. I spent six years as a full-time telecommuter: working from my bedroom or living room, then from a rented cubicle in a city office, then from a proper home office. It worked well for that company because all (or later, a majority) of the engineers were doing that, so we built our processes around it: lots of electronic communication, regular phone meetings, etc.. At the job after that there was one off-site person; it worked less well for him because it was harder for the rest of us to remember to include him in things - hallway conversation and such. It only worked at all because he had been in the office for a couple of years and knew people well enough, and he visited for a week five or six times a year.

My current job is moderately flexible with respect to working from home - it's doable, but definitely not preferred. I do have one co-worker who is at home four days a week, and I think that doesn't work as well as if they were in the office more, but they're sufficiently senior that nobody is going to give them a hard time about it. Having a single day a week designated for WFH is more common, but still not encouraged; randomly working from home as the need arises is more the norm, and I think that's okay because there is always a decent subset of work that can be done (and may even be enhanced) by not being as available to co-workers. The fact that we have multiple offices already and many of our meetings are already videoconferenced makes it more reasonable for a person or three to attend from their laptop rather than the office.

None of this particularly explains what's going on at Yahoo. I think you'd need to know a lot more about the existing culture there to figure it out.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:14 AM
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I'm the reason they want to keep the rest of you from working at home -- when I try, I am incredibly unproductive. I make tea, I take naps, I clean, I walk the dog more than she's accustomed to... Not that I'm productive in the least when I'm in the office, but with privacy and access to my own stuff, I don't get anything done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:31 AM
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I thought Yahoo was reputed to have organizational problems-- a zillion VPs, hard for tech people to get clear requirements or clear decisions to proceed. I can see where trying to change that while many people are offsite would be tricky.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:33 AM
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24

One article made it sound like Yahoo has a few employees who people were surprised to learn were still employees who have been working from home for a long time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:58 AM
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25

16: we are moving from a 1BR to a 3BR and my soul is weeping with joy for this reason. Mrs K-sky and I both work at home.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 10:01 AM
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25: That proximity problem is why I've turned into one more of those assholes who shows up at the cafe, pulls the MacBook out of the messenger bag, fires up the IDE and parks for six hours. My tiny company might actually get an office this summer, but that will require the other half of the company (and his fiancée, and their guinea pig) to move to the same city as me.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 10:30 AM
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Though I hope I'm still less offensive than the guy sitting next to me yesterday, who spent forty minutes on Skype advising someone how to 1) get investment money out of Steve Wozniak and 2) manage his (not Wozniak's) time with a "context-sensitive" folder full of index cards.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 10:34 AM
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My favorite part of the Marissa Mayer story is that just as she announced the new policy, she had a nursery installed in her own office. Those are some useless coattails, lady.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 10:50 AM
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The children of the proles should be raised in blank metal cubicles. That way they'll find their future work as her minions much more stimulating.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 11:42 AM
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30

One queen in the hive. Slash! Stab!

16, 25: So true. I had a fantasy of sharing a partner desk with my partner, but this would not work with the Dwarf Lord until we could have a cone of silence and a small pile-of-stuff-managing robot. (Which would be way cool, so, hope not dead.)

I was waiting until 36 to post this, but slow thread.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:37 PM
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advising someone how to 1) get investment money out of Steve Wozniak

How could this possibly take more than a couple of minutes? I met that dude once for thirty seconds and he gave me ten dollars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:42 PM
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My favorite part of the Marissa Mayer story is that just as she announced the new policy, she had a nursery installed in her own office.

I know, right? Stay classy!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:42 PM
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33

Word on the street is that this is a very loud but temporary fix to smoke out a contingent of highly paid slackers with iron clad contracts (i.e. force them to come in and reveal that they have not been working or inspire them to resign) and that the hoi polloi know that all will return to reasonableness in ~ 6 months time and that their hatred of the slackers is being counted on to keep them gritting their teeth and bearing it so that the company can finally be rid of the slackers. Who knows though. I just enjoyed the gossip b/c it reminded me of the plot of Shards of Honor, a beloved pulp space opera novel from my youth.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:43 PM
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34

On the OP, I think the issues of whether this is a good idea for Yahoo and whether Mayer is loathsome are fairly neatly separable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:43 PM
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35

33: A Bujold novel? I do not remember this subplot.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:45 PM
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36

35: Likewise -- I think you must be thinking of some other beloved bit of space opera.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 12:54 PM
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37

Was it Clovis who in publicly regretting that he had no close family near him was actually trying to see if there were still rival claimants to his throne whom he had not yet killed?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 1:11 PM
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38

Is that where Asimov's Mule got it?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 1:14 PM
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39

I work better from my home office, because people bother me when I am at work. I try to maintain a research agenda during the semester but it's really draining sometimes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 2:37 PM
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37: I'm generally unaware of most literary traditions that come up here, so I have no idea. But here's Gregory of Tours:

The kings named above were kinsmen of Clovis, and their brother Rignomer by name, was slain by Clovis' order at the city of Mans. When they were dead Clovis received all their kingdom and treasures And having killed many other kings and his nearest relatives, of whom he was jealous lest they take the kingdom from him, he extended his rule over all the Gauls. However he gathered his people together at one time, it is said, and spoke of the kinsmen whom he had himself destroyed. "Woe to me, who have remained as a stranger among foreigners, and have none of my kinsmen to give me aid if adversity comes." But he said this not because of grief at their death but by way of a ruse, if perchance he should be able to find some one still to kill.

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 4:07 PM
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my mom's best friend is english and her treasured family manse where she was raised and that she loves more than anything (really, like manse for real, though) after her father's death tragically reverted to her first cousin and his son because ENTAILMENT or PRIMOGENITURE or whatever. my daughters think that's the least fair thing ever, and that everyone in the family should get to keep living there. they have a "right now" time bias and figure everyone they care about will be dead when it gets to tragic broke-ass french aristocracy time (I've explained about that too.) clearly antonia (mom's friend) should have married some pompous ass she met at cambridge, right? I mean, traditions, people.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 8:59 PM
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anyway, it seems there's some value in having young female cousins you can marry off to the kings of neighboring kingdoms, and...well, if you set your male cousins up as procurator over some recently conquered place they will try to gin up some war to overthrow you. male cousins are pesky like that.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:02 PM
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33:35---maybe I'm too cracked out, but it just seemed like she might be trying to get rid of someone very specific and very highly placed and very safe who is just so awful that it is worth getting rid of all kinds of other innocent people. Ezar like.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 9:50 PM
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44

Alameida, have you read any Edward St. Aubyn? The tragedy of the disinherited rich is thick in the air.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 10:45 PM
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Yeah, I Edward St. Aubyn is great. I pirated the ebook version of the first four volumes as soon as Halford recommended them, a few months ago, and they really hit the spot.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-28-13 11:48 PM
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45: Way to twist the knife, x.trapnel.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 5:31 AM
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Hey, I might still buy the 5th. I probably won't. But I might!

I should hurry up and take that stupid "I SUPPORT THE MPAA & RIAA & COPYRIGHT" picture already, so Halford chips in his $200 to the Unfogadodecahedron fund.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 11:50 AM
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Coulda woulda shoulda. I don't want monkeys to just contemplate dancing for my money -- I want monkeys that dance. Also is there a link to that PayPal somewhere?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 12:07 PM
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So I guess it makes me an sell out to think losing working from home now might be ok to avoid losing the job in a year when the company fails.

I doubt the benefit cut aspect is the motivation so much as the actually need to get shit done quickly factor.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:30 AM
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