Best Buy ends work-from-home program [UPDATE]

Categories: Best Buy
hubertjoly.jpg
Gchat doesn't cut it for CEO Hubert Joly -- he wants his employees back in the office.
-- Update at bottom --

As it seeks to rebound from a disastrous 2012, Best Buy's leadership has decided to end a program that allowed corporate employees to work from home and maintain flexible schedules.

SEE ALSO: Best Buy: On the road to extinction?

Though some workers will still be allowed to maintain inconsistent schedules and work away from the company's Richfield headquarters, most will now be expected to put in traditional 40-hour in-the-office work weeks.

The Star Tribune details the discontinued program, which was known as Results Only Work Environment (ROWE):
[Under ROWE], the company evaluated employees solely on performance versus time worked and office attendance. Employees worked when they wanted and wherever they wanted just as long as they got the job done...

ROWE, which the company launched in 2005, did not apply to Best Buy's store employees, who make up the lion's share of the retailer's 168,000-person global workforce...

"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."...

After an investor presentation last November, Joly told the Star Tribune that he intended to restore accountability to the company's culture.

"You need to feel disposable as opposed to indispensable," Joly said [see update below for more on this quote].
ROWE was developed by former Best Buy employees Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. The two of them later went on to co-found Minneapolis-based HR consulting firm CultureRx.

In a blog post, Ressler and Thompson blast Best Buy's decision to follow Yahoo's lead and "stumble backwards" by no longer allowing employees to work from home. From their blog:
Best Buy Co, Inc. has gone backwards in time, following the footsteps of Yahoo! and demanding all hands on deck. We're certain that other organizations are going to stumble backwards as well over the next few weeks. 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the past few years - management that obviously favors managing schedules over managing performance - the stronghold of outdated thinking became the weed that choked the evolution of the most enviable, productive, attractive and globally-forward workforce of the future.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. It's our hope that the Best Buy leadership team quickly recognizes that the managed-flexibility game is old news, and that organizations who will win in the 21st century will learn how to effectively manage the work, not the people. In fact, any so-called leadership team can effectively get 'all hands on deck', dictate hours and delegate tasks, while their people brag about how many hours they put in 'at the office'. That's easy. But only true leadership has the ability to get 'everyone on point' with a workforce vs. a workplace that's fluid, nimble and focused on what matters: measurable results.
The end of ROWE comes just days after the company announced it's laying off 400 corporate employees, meaning it's been a tough couple weeks for Best Buy workers down in Richfield.

:::: UPDATE ::::

In an email, Best Buy spokesman Jeff Shelman says the "You need to feel disposable" quote from Joly included in the Star Tribune's report and reprinted above is out of context. From his email:
The Star Tribune story did not use the entire quote and one key word was wrong.

The quote is:

"In a turnaround transformation, direction needs to come from the top. I make sure to get to a conclusion based on fact. You need to feel dispensable as opposed to indispensable."

The context is that he is talking about himself. He is not talking about our employees.
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19 comments
John Saxhaug
John Saxhaug

Maybe he meant employees shouldnt feel irreplaceable. If ur irreplaceable u aren't promotable. Altho, I doubt any1 at best buy is feeling promotable

MotherJones
MotherJones

Best Buy is racist. My African American friend applied for a management job at Best Buy because he had extensive experience in stocking shelves at Wal-Mart and K-Mart. He knew exactly how logistics work in a retail environment. Instead, he was passed over for a white bitch who had an MBA in business management, but never worked in a retail environment before in her whole life. This just shows how corporate America is just racist towards minority applicants who want to work their way up the ladder, but are passed on due the color of their skin. So this woman now earns $60,000/yr (that's what the job posting offered when my friend applied), and now my friend is back at working at K-Mart for $8.00/hr. No wonder some people resort to crime when they need to put food on the table.  I mean, how is my friend supposed to support 8 kids on $8/hr? Luckily, his 25 y/o girlfriend was able to draw social security because her back hurts all the time and cant hold a job. But if it weren't for that, they would be living out on the streets. See, it is evil, greedy corporations like Best Buy that force people into these poverty situations.  

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

Everybody wants to work from home.   Everyone wants to get away from the 'planation', wage job culture.  Wage jobs, neo-feudalism, debt slaves.   Nobody gives a rats a** about anyone at 'work'.  The entire system is a joke, run by butt monkey CEO's.

At one time (1800's) people did a farming / subsistance living.  It may have not been great, but atleast they were their own person's.  With the industrial revolution, we've been converted into 'employees' - debt slaves.  There's no other game in town.  Either you find a wage job, or you starve.   There's no place for the individual any more.

Think about it!

Jean James
Jean James

Wow-Even they did "update" this comment later. I think their attitude shows. Professionalism doesn't seem to be important to this company - just power.

Nick Matz
Nick Matz

Way to go Best Buy!! Another bad idea to add to the pile. One of the few reasons to work for the company has ended. Take a look at Google and Apple! How do they handle employees!

Tim Charest
Tim Charest

I'm split. If I was a struggling retailer I might want to reign things in a little closer, at least until things stabilize some.

Adam Grebin
Adam Grebin

Best Buy, AKA the showroom for Amazon.com

jazzbo13
jazzbo13

I thought that the Results Only Work Environment was a great idea until I wanted to buy a new computer and ended up at some guy's home looking at desktops in his garage. Way too creepy.

Angela Salzl
Angela Salzl

I get what he's saying but telling people employees need to feel disposable is just rude!

Sarah Marcum
Sarah Marcum

Seriously, who says that. They should dispose of the CEO (again).

Tracey Frampton
Tracey Frampton

didn't they just lay off 400 people? I think their employees already feel disposable..

Randi Winter
Randi Winter

I don't know about anyone else, but I've felt disposable in this economy for years. I certainly don't need my feelings verified at work. Thankfully, I don't work for Best Buy.

Ross Levine
Ross Levine

*looks longingly at Europe's far more human and life affirming work policies, working to live rather than living to work* (and yes I realize their economy isn't doing very well, but neither is ours, so I don't really know if creating soul sucking work policies will ultimately translate to higher and more quality levels of productivity). It's a shame too, as I always did think Best Buy's flexible work policy was a really good idea that more companies should have done.

Pinko Thinker
Pinko Thinker

I prefer knowing that my people have a real sense of their value to the company. I find that the dynamic of any harmonious family, which is how I like to view us, is so much more efficient when everybody but the great and powerful patriarch sees themselves as no more than the worthless human trash that they are, and they behave accordingly.

Loukia M. Janavaras
Loukia M. Janavaras

Bravo corporate America for digressing. 'Need to feel disposable' ??? As if this is really going to help boost morale.

Paul Walker
Paul Walker

Noone uses yahoo and noone shops at Best Buy...wonder why.....

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

You are astute.  You have been made disposable by the corporate culture.  If we can dumb down the jobs enough, then maybe you can be replaced by a H1-B person.

Oh yes, BTW, they will 'drill' that H1-B person.  Welcome to the planation.

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