Best Buy responds to telecommuting controversy


Best Buy employees no longer have the right to decide whether they can telecommute without consulting a manager. The company hired a new CEO who has brought about new rules and programs for employees. Although they haven’t completely ruled out telecommuting, like Yahoo. Best Buy spokesman Matt Furman believes that hands-on work in the office yields the greatest success:

Best Buy store in Northeast Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, File)
Best Buy store in Northeast Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, File)

“In the context of a business transformation, it makes sense to consider not just what the results are but how the work gets done,” Furman said. “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.”

Telecommuting has stirred national debate about the costs and benefits. In the past, employees were required to show up at the workplace because there was no other option. However, with today’s technological advancements, employees are capable of working at any place in the world. Managers should focus on the work rather than on the people, says Cassi Ressler and Jody Thompson at NYTimes:

Treat people like the adults that they are, and they will act like adults. Treat them like children, and you’ll find yourself with a workplace full of people who are watching the clock tick waiting for the bell so they can make a mass exodus.

Our advice: Focus on managing the work, not the people. People can manage themselves. Get clear on what needs to get done and how it’s being measured, and stop managing how and where people do it. If they don’t deliver, they’re out. No results? No job.

The belief is that Yahoo and Best Buy made the decision due to statistics that prove that employees are more successful when they perform in the workplace. When certain jobs require communication and collaboration, it is difficult to do so when many of the employees are out of the office. Some studies have shown that remote work is connected to lower job satisfaction. According to Susan Ashford at NYTimes, social interaction between employees increases self worth:

I would not be surprised to hear that even people who work for organizations but do so from home feel this concern about identity and meaning as they are often out of the loop and away from many of the cues and symbols that give us meaning while at work. So much of who we are and what we know is determined by our office contacts and interactions — the physical space, the sign on the office door, the calls to meetings. We sometimes hate aspects of these, but they do locate us in social space and by so doing give us meaning.

According to U.S. Census data, about three million Americans work at home at least half of the time. Advocates of telecommuting are hoping that Yahoo’s decision does not affect the rest of the work force.


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