CEOs, listen up. If you are even thinking of following Marissa Mayer down the "we-all-need-to-be-elbow-to-elbow" path, let me guide you in a different direction. Namely, the one we were all strolling down before the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company decided to forbid working from home. Remember? We were saving 30 percent on real estate costs as we stopped obsessing about face time. We were improving workforce engagement by empowering employees to get the work done wherever/ whenever. We were retaining great talent and stealing high potentials with our superior flex policies. We were keeping our companies in business through each storm of the century with employees equipped to work whether they could get to the office or not. We watching productivity soar as technology enabled work life balance.
And then the world changed suddenly when a bright new-CEO-new-mom blocked the flex path and pointed in the opposite direction.
Anyone following this mislead will be on the wrong side of history (and herstory). They'll be on the wrong side of working moms, marathoners, the differently abled, the young, the aging, the executive caring for her in-laws, even the single guy with a new puppy! They'll be on the wrong side of technology. They'll be on the wrong side of the global economy.
I do not exaggerate. CEOs, hear me out. It is tech that led us to flex, and the screaming speed of tech development means that every day, we're becoming better enabled to work flexibly. Fighting flex is like insisting on using a rotary landline because you're afraid of power of smartphones.
In this global world, elbow-to-elbow is not a good business model. How small is Yahoo! anyway, that all of the employees can fit in one office area? We need to be extremely effective at working over a fiber optic wire -- not over a cup of coffee. A team in Bangalore and a team in Minneapolis may never meet, least of all work elbow to elbow, but they can work well together if they are working from home at the odd hours that their times sync best.
Every time we ask working moms what helps them the most, the number one answer is flexible work. Companies as diverse as Texas Instruments, Capital One, Kraft, Deloitte, Pfizer, Intel and Wellstar have earned a place on our annual Working Mother 100 Best Companies list by digging deep into how to make flex work for employees and the business. Focusing on how, not where, to get the work done gives the 100 Best Companies a competitive advantage that they love.
Flexibility is the number one thing that working moms want and need to succeed, but that doesn't really even matter any more. The flex mindset has jumped from working mom to finance guy to general counsel to entrepreneur to CEO like a fast-spreading virus. There is no antidote, because flex has become our culture.
CEOs, stand by your flex. Stay on the path we forged together. Embrace the right side of history.