Best Buy follows Yahoo in banning flexible work
The electronics retailer ends a program that stressed results rather than hours spent in the office. Do two big moves like this make a trend?
Yahoo (YHOO) caused a stir when 37-year-old CEO Marissa Mayer recently gave an ultimatum to her employees: Telecommuters must come into the office or leave the company.
But now Best Buy (BBY) is following her lead. It's ending a program called the "results-only work environment," or ROWE, which evaluated workers on performance instead of the amount of time spent in the office. That allowed staff to work whenever and wherever they wanted, as long as they performed, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
With these big American companies shifting their policies, it raises the question of whether a backlash against telecommuting is brewing. While some question whether the ban undermines families, others point to the benefits of working under one roof: collaboration, innovation and creativity.
But Yahoo's ban wasn't meant to send a cultural message about flexible work arrangements, says The New York Times. Instead, Mayer was seeking to correct some significant problems specific to Yahoo, where reportedly "entire floors of cubicles were nearly empty because some employees were working as little as possible."
Nevertheless, many former fans bashed Mayer for her reversal of prior policy, with some commenters on Twitter calling her decision "awful" and "ridiculous."
The outrage against Mayer's move, compared with a relatively slow reaction to Best Buy's new position, may also demonstrate how people view female leaders differently than male CEOs. Many people saw Mayer, a young mother, as abandoning the type of workers she was thought to represent.
"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," Best Buy spokesman Matt Furman told the Star Tribune.
Not everyone is pleased with Best Buy, either: Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, who created the ROWE program, wrote a scathing review of the decision. On their blog, they described the retailer as having gone "backwards in time" and being "downright silly."
They might have some basis for their argument: More Americans are working from home at least one day a week, according to a Census Bureau report released on Tuesday.
It took many months, but when a senior programmer left, I was offered the position over the many T/C'ers that also applied. Reason? I may not have been the best at what I did, but showed initiative and commitment to both the Super and the company. In less than a year, I was promoted twice!
Too many people abuse this privilege. People will do the minimum without anyone watching them...for the most part. Even if they are measured on productivity they will do just enough to satisfy their bosses but not an inch more.
I have seen outside salespeople take advantage of this situation many times and then they wonder why they get canned.
Well, here comes the thumbs down. From a man's perspective.
(1) Many years ago (the 70's) I tried to work from home at least two days a week. At the time my wife was able to stay home with the kids (3) and we made it on one salary. What began to happen was being home I was too handy to run to the store, watch the kids for a little bit, answer the house phone, play referee when the kids got too loud or were arguing etc etc. At the three month mark I decided I was getting nothing done and was being chastised at work for falling behind. I quit working from home and fortunately I kept my job.
(2) One of my doctors had a terrific young lady doing his billing and following up with patients as well as insurance companies working in the practice. She got married and had one child and then a second. Day care became too expensive and she gave notice to quit and stay home with her two children which became three over time. Doctor did not want to lose her and asked if he set her up at home and worked when she could, would she consider staying on. Eight years ago she said she would try, it worked and she is still with him.
Point is sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.
I used to work part-time for Best Buy and the thing that stood out to me the most, was the schedules of department managers, area supervisors and store management. Prior to working at Best Buy, I worked in retail management full time, for well over 10+ years. I was scheduled to close my store out 4-5 times a week and was mandatory to close my store out on either a Friday or Saturday and then rotate my Sunday’s with my assistant managers. But when I was at Best Buy - full time staff seemed to work during the slow business hours of the day (8am to 4pm – Monday thru Friday) and then part-time staff was relegated to big budget days and peak hours (7 days a week). I mean, it was great for me because I received plenty of hours - but whether we made budget that day or not fell on my shoulders and I just thought that was very peculiar because I was not a full-time vested employee? Here it is they were paying me $10 bucks an hour – but the person they were paying $18 an hour was sitting at home relaxing during business peak hours? So I couldn’t understand their logic – or their return on investment when it came to paying and working staff?
I think flex-scheduling is great for people that work in the public sector (at non-essential agencies), because business hours are set. But in the private sector in service industry it’s a challenge to have very liberal working hours and have great return on investment.
There's no problem in working at home if one is a contract worker who only gets paid for results. There is also no problem in working at home if one is constantly connected and monitored, and if a failure to be "on deck" for a certain number of hours a day results in one's telecommuting privileges being revoked.
Best Buy is not using the very technology they sell. It's not that hard to have people hooked up via webcams to prove that they are sitting at their desk and available continuously for collaboration--it's the managers who don't want to have to do the "extra" work of using that technology. It's the same thing at Yahoo--stupidity.
Some have said the telecommuting arrangement does not always work. In those cases, it is because productivity suffers by the home / work boundary getting blurred. I would think that if productivity is good, there should be no problem.
The real problem is that it takes more effort to measure productivity than to measure attendance. Management likely prefers to count heads rather than measure output.
And, I doubt I'm the only one.
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