After Yahoo, Best Buy also rethinks telecommuting


Electronics retailer Best Buy is calling its workers back into the office, shutting down its experiment with flexible workplace hours a week after Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer put the kibosh on telecommuting at her own company.

Best Buy said the roughly 4,000 employees who report to its headquarters in Richfield, Minn., will be asked to do their work at the facility instead of on their own terms.

The shift marks the end of an innovative program called Results Only Work Environment, which for the past several years has allowed workers to complete projects out of the office and off the clock. Employees essentially had free rein, as long as they met their superiors’ expectations.


But as Best Buy tries to execute a turnaround strategy -- cutting headcount to save money, launching new advertising campaigns and price-matching offers to lure back customers lost to online rivals – it’s looking for employees to have more face time at home base.

“We need all hands on deck, whether it is in our stores or on our corporate campus,” said spokesman Jon Sandler. “To be clear, this decision is entirely about ensuring we are doing everything we can to reinvigorate our company and grow it for the benefit of all stakeholders, including all employees.”

The new rules, first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, may not be as rigid as the ban at Yahoo, which has caused an uproar among working mothers.

More Americans are telecommuting, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday, which showed that the ranks of workers operating from home once a week have swelled to 13.4 million in 2010 from 9.2 million in 1997. In percentages, that’s a jump to 9.4% of all workers from 7%.

“We of course believe in employee flexibility and are simply looking for it to come in the context of a conversation between that employee and their manager,” Sandler said. “It used to be a right about which a manager had no say. Now it’s a conversation.”


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