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Best Buy puts controls on telecommuting

Updated: 2013-03-07T03:04:10Z

By DIANE STAFFORD

The Kansas City Star

Two companies struggling to improve results have reached similar decisions in recent days: Pump up the power of the office.

Best Buy this week told its 4,000 non-store employees that their work-from-home rights were being clipped. Beginning Monday, their managers — not individual workers — get to decide whether employees can work remotely.

The announcement came on the heels of Yahoo’s surprising decision to pull all of its telecommuters into the office.

Both companies couched their decisions in terms of conversations.

Yahoo said it wants to feed off the casual conversations that occur when co-workers rub shoulders.

Best Buy said it wants that too, plus conversations between bosses and employees to decide if remote work is right for the individual.

The Best Buy change affects its Results Only Work Environment, a policy established in 2005 that has received much attention from human resource consultants. The policy, which applied in its offices but not on its retail floors, emphasized getting the job done. Workers were free to decide on their own where and when to do it.

For years, the policy has been an often quoted darling of flexible-workplace advocates.

The new decision at Best Buy doesn’t eliminate work-from-home options, but it does indicate a desire to have employees in the office more.

Workplace analysts cautioned against seeing the Yahoo and Best Buy moves as sweeping indictments of workplace flexibility or remote work options. Both companies said their decisions are simply right for them at this time.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com.

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