I kicked my Yahoo email address to the curb a loooong time ago. I’m a Gmail devotee, and every search is done through Google or the handy toolbar in Chrome. When I heard about the latest Yahoo outrage involving Marissa Mayer, my initial thought was, “Yahoo is still a thing?”
Color me surprised. Not only is it still “a thing” (I GUESS), but it’s also in the midst of serious controversy. For those of you who haven’t heard, Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is throwing the axe down on telecommuters. No more working from home. All y’all need to hoof it to headquarters.
I know that opinions on this are wide and varied, but my own opinion is that this is a step in the wrong direction. To imply that telecommuters don’t carry the same value, the same experience, and the same qualifications as someone who checks in to a brick & mortar location is narrow minded, to say the least. It’s a quick fix for a company that has a myriad of other internal issues. I think that working from home is… fantastic – for companies, for families, for the environment (how many cars are off the road Monday through Friday now that telecommuting has become a real option?) – and that it’s the company’s responsibility to implement the proper tools and methods of accountability that allow for this sort of relationship to be feasible.
In this case, since I’m a freelancer, I’m responsible for myself. I have to meet deadlines and submit W9s and pay taxes and try not to go to jail. But I also have three children, a husband who works full-time and then also runs his own side business, and food allergies to contend with (translation: I basically have to cook from scratch when I’d love to order fajitas to go).
A year ago a friend sent me a link with a “Pssst look what I found” note. It was a message board with my blog as the topic, and people were making wild assumptions. “She probably has a full-time nanny and/or a regular cleaning service.” “They hire out a lot.”
Lolololol, y’all, who’s confusing me with J. Lo? None of those things are bad, but our income would have to increase by leaps and bounds for us to even consider those. But I will tell you what we do – starting this year – and how it’s been a win-win-win situation for us.
She’s on the right (if you couldn’t guess). Rachel and her husband have been married for two and a half years, and four months ago they welcomed a really cute baby boy, Isaiah. Like many new moms, she had struggled with the decision to go back to work or stay at home. If she put her son in daycare full-time, the cost (here in the expensive state of Connecticut) was almost as much as her take home pay. In the end, she’d be averaging out at $3/hour. Ultimately, Rachel and Steve decided to trim down their budget where they could so Rachel could stay home. Steve would look into working more hours to make ends meet.
Now enter my family. Sophie started preschool the beginning of this month, which now means she and Remmy are at school for half the day. I loved the idea of getting the bulk of my work done while the two older girls are in school. Minnie takes an hour long nap in the morning, but that hour goes by quickly. So Jack and I came up with an idea, and presented that idea to Rachel and Steve. (Jack has known Rachel since she was a wee little tot, so we’re all friends, in case you were wondering if I just downloaded a stranger’s photo off Facebook.)
Four mornings a week, Rachel and baby Isaiah head over to our house. They arrive right after Minnie and I drop the big girls off at school. Isaiah and Minnie spend the morning with Rachel while I work. Minnie takes a nap at ten am, and Rachel will nurse Isaiah, hang out with him for a bit, and then put him down for his nap. If it’s one of those glorious days that both babies are napping at the same time, Rachel will offer to throw in a load of the girls’ laundry or chop up some vegetables for dinner. If it’s a cranky baby day, then Rachel spends more time doting on the babies. Sometimes it’s hers, sometimes it’s mine, sometimes it’s both.
All of the pros (from Rachel’s mouth and mine):
– Rachel doesn’t have to pay for daycare.
– Rachel doesn’t have to worry about pumping milk.
– Rachel is able to supplement her family’s income.
– I am able to get work done while knowing that Minnie is in good hands.
– I still get to hang out with Minnie, nurse her, smoosh her face, etc.
– Rachel is way more affordable than a nanny (cause she’s bringing her baby).
– Minnie and Isaiah get to hang out with each other.
– Rachel and I get some face time with an actual grown-up.
– We get the satisfaction of knowing that we’re helping another mom. (Really!)
– Rachel’s not making the income she was making before she had a baby.
– Sometimes I have to step in if both babies are suddenly causing a ruckus.
– If one baby gets sick, then Rachel stays home so both babies don’t get sick.
Truth be told, I work harder/longer now that I work from home than I ever did at any of the jobs I had before I had kids. Partially because freelancing requires a lot of hustling, and partially because I have to make every moment count. While I have a few hours every morning, I still work an hour or so in the afternoon (Minnie naps; Remmy and Sophie have “quiet time”), and then again after the girls go to bed.
All this to say – (ha! maybe my current setup is completely irrelevant, roll with me, I’ve been eschewing caffeine for weeks now) – I think Marissa Mayer has a myopic point of view when it comes the benefits of working from home. She understands the desire to be near children (she had a nursery built for her baby adjoining her office at Yahoo), but… she doesn’t want it for anyone else? I also don’t think this is just something affects parents – there are some incredible benefits from telecommuting, even if it’s just you and the hum of your dishwasher running. There are benefits to working in an office, too. I don’t think one is better than the other, but shutting one down completely is shortsighted.. and kind of foolish.
PS. We know we’re only a couple months into our working arrangement, so Rachel and I are still treading lightly. Things are great so far, but if, at any point, this isn’t a good fit for either of us, we’ll adjust as necessary. Have any of you tried out something similar?