Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is copying a chapter from Yahoo! Inc’s (NASDAQ:YHOO) employee handbook and is cutting back on its telecommuting policies.
For Best Buy employees, its 4,000 non-store employees who work at home will still be allowed to either telecommute or take advantage of flex schedules but they’ll have to now do so with a manager’s approval. The news came via an email obtained by CNN and Best Buy spokesperson Matt Furman.
“It used to be a right about which a manager had no say. Now it’s a conversation. We believe in employee flexibility but are looking for it to come in the context of a conversation between that employee and their manager,” he wrote.
Called “Results Only Work Environment (ROWE),” Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) introduced the program in 2005 and received high praise for it from work-at-home advocates. But thanks to hard times, the company, similar to Yahoo, also has a new CEO and faces increasing competition from online stores such as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
It’s time for changes and according to Furman, as the company looks at its turnaround plans, ROWE isn’t a good fit anymore. “In the context of a business transformation, it makes sense to consider not just what the results are but how the work gets done. 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,” he said.
For telecommuting fans, it’s another blow to the popular practice.
ROWE’s creators, two former Best Buy human resource employees, Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, responded to the news critically. They wrote that the company was returning to “last century management practices” and angrily added in their blog, Gorowe.com:
“… 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 Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) 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.”
“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.”
While the new policies are in fact different for the company and have been implemented for different reasons, you can’t help but ask, “Who’s going to be next and for what reasons?”
Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is currently up 2.50%, trading at $18.86.