Marissa Mayer's decision to end Yahoo's remote work program has ignited a debate about the benefits and pitfalls of letting people work from home. Now, Best Buy, another struggling giant, is following suit.
The Star Tribune reports that the company announced Monday that they were ending their Results Only Work Environment program (ROWE) where employees were evaluated only on results rather than time worked. Corporate employees could work when and wherever they wanted, as long as the job got done.
Now, Thomas Lee reports, the majority of workers will be required to work a standard 40 hour week, though managers have discretion to allow certain exceptions. T he policy applied only to corporate staff, not store employees.
Like at Yahoo, there's a new CEO in town, Hubert Joly, who is under immense pressure to turn the company around and reform a dysfunctional culture.
Though the timing will inevitably connect Mayer and Joly, the move looks like it has been in the works for some time. Joly told the Star Tribune that the ROWE program was "fundamentally flawed from a leadership standpoint" in an article that appeared on February 16.
Best Buy management gives the same justification Yahoo has, that they need everyone in the office as they try to turn the company around:
“It makes sense to consider not just what the results are but how the work gets done,” said Best Buy spokesman Matt Furman. “Bottom line, it’s ‘all hands on deck’ at Best Buy and that means having employees in the office as much as possible to collaborate and connect on ways to improve our business.”
It may be an unintended consequence, but Joly's involved himself in a debate about flexible work as well. Best Buys' particularly liberal policy was heavily publicized in the past, and it's a big shift to do away with it entirely.
The two Best Buy employees who came up with the ROWE program in the first place, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, have since opened a consulting firm based on the practice. In a blog post on their website, they harshly criticized Joly's decision:
"When we heard the news, we weren't surprised; as new management came on board over the past few years - management that obviously favors managing schedules over managing performance - the stronghold of outdated thinking became the weed that choked the evolution of the most enviable, productive, attractive and globally-forward workforce of the future.
So we think it's unfortunate, if not downright silly, that Best Buy has made the decision to discontinue operating as a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) for corporate employees. They are sending a clear message that they are more concerned with having leadership excel at monitoring the hallways, rather than building a leadership team that excels at defining clear, measurable results, and holding people accountable for achieving those results. While we agree that Best Buy must take drastic measures to turn their business around, moving back to a 20th century, paternalistic 'command and control' environment is most certainly not the answer..."
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