Close on the heels of Yahoo’s decision to do away with telecommuting, comes news of Best Buy doing away with its path breaking ROWE program. Results Only Work Environment, known simply as ROWE, allowed corporate employees to control their schedules and how often they showed up at the company’s Richfield headquarters. 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. Now, workers have to clear it with their managers before telecommuting.
Of late, the giant technology company has been in the media due to its failing sales and falling market share. A combination of poor management and changing consumer retailing preferences is to blame for the change of tide. But back then in the ‘good, old days’, Best Buy was on the cutting edge of workplace practices when Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson created ROWE in 2005.
It was the ultimate flexible work environment and every corporation looked up to Best Buy, whose corporate headquarters are in Minnesota. But, a lot more people seemed to be talking about it than practicing it.
While ROWE works brilliantly for some job environments, the fact still remains that not many companies are its adoptees. NPR reported that 3 percent of companies were using ROWE in their workplace but that doesn’t give any indication as to the number of employees covered by the progressive workplace management system.
In fact, Best Buy’s store employees were not allowed to use ROWE. So doing away with the program will not matter all that much, because it didn’t impact a huge amount of its employee base anyway.
On the other hand, Yahoo’s decision impacts the entire Internet company as its workforce were allowed to work remotely. A large section of their employees were writers, designers, IT folks… employees who could telecommute efficiently.
So while some might want to blame Melissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, for sounding the death knell for ROWE, the truth is that for Best Buy’s largest section of the workforce it really doesn’t matter.
The writer points out to us that times are such that for some companies—namely, Best Buy and Yahoo—flex work needs to take a backseat to business survival. At least for now!