First Yahoo, now Best Buy ends home working for staff

Best Buy has announced an end to its initiative allowing workers to telecommute — just like Yahoo.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's plan is working: Her idea to bring workers that permanently work from home back into the office is going well.

Image: Hohbach-Lewin

Worries about occasional telecommuting were laid to rest in Yahoo's original memo to its staff, which was leaked last week.

The memo advised "the rest of us, who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration".

Employees have been talking to the New York Times anonymously, saying that their concerns about occasional telecommuting have been eased.

The outcry from ex-employees of Yahoo seems to be a storm in a teacup. Many were upset by the decision, assuming that all telecommuting — even occasional telecommuting — will be cancelled.

Not so. The decision affected only 200 staff from Yahoo's 12,000 strong workforce.

Resumes have been arriving at Yahoo, according the article, from candidates unfazed by the edict and hoping for a job.

My arguments on this week's great debate about permanent working from home seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

I predicted that Mayer's bold move would be the start of a new trend, and this week another company, Best Buy, announced that it was ending its Results Only Work Environment (ROWE).

ROWE allows its employees to control when they worked from home. Now, workers at Best Buy will need to ask for managerial approval in order for non-store employees to telecommute.

Best Buy spokesperson Matt Furman said: "When you're in a turnaround situation, it truly is all hands on deck."

According to the Star Tribune Carol Spieckerman, president of retail consulting firm newmarketbuilders said: "In a lot of ways, it's a symbolic way for Best Buy and Yahoo to remind their employees that the old ways are not going to guide the company."

Best Buy said that its decision was made over a month before the Yahoo announcement, and the edict by Yahoo was not related.

Both of these ailing companies have made the same strategic change for similar reasons.

The route back to success might be dependent on face-to-face interactions — without all the distractions of working from home.

Only time will tell if both Yahoo and Best Buy are truly trailblazing with their return to the office mandate — or whether they are trying to fight fire in firms that are already burned out.

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