CIO Briefing

Not All Work-from-Home Bans Are Created Equal

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So Best Buy announced this week that it, too, will start making its workers come in and — well, well — nobody is calling new white-male CEO Hubert Joly a bad feminist yet. What gives? When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer demanded last week that her workers actually come into work, the commentary poured in immediately, everywhere and all week long. But for some reason the reports out of Best Buy headquarters in Minneapolis received pretty much zero national attention and even less criticism. Much like the Yahoo move, Best Buy will make all corporate employees come in to the office, eliminating its Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) program, which let people come in whenever they wanted as long as they got the job done. "It makes sense to consider not just what the results are but how the work gets done," Best Buy spokesman Matt Furman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Thomas Lee. "Bottom line, 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."

Cue the outrage? Not really.

Most of the reports trickling in since yesterday have reported the news, relating it to the Yahoo ordeal from last week in some vague way. Even the generally inflammatory Business Insider takes "THE END OF WORKING FROM HOME" angle, rather than pointing fingers at the Best Buy CEO himself. In fact, the tone around Best Buy this week is, essentially, one of understanding: "Though the timing will inevitably connect Mayer and Joly, the move looks like it has been in the works for some time," writes Business Insider's Max Nisen. Well, sure it has — it's efficient and the old policy wasn't working and, like Yahoo, the electronics distributor is in the midst of a turn-around with a brand-new CEO (Joly started last August), so the move makes sense. "They truly want people to be available and present at this particular time to hasten a turnaround," one retail consultant told Lee. 

The tame reaction, however, might have something to do with Best Buy's delivery of the news. Unlike Yahoo, which demanded all employees come in no matter what, Best Buy is letting managers determine if employees have to work from the office, according to Mashable. Also, it didn't come out via a leaked memo. The timing also helped: How much more is there to say about working from home? And finally, it's hard to connect Joly's move to the whole work-life balance debate because, unlike Mayer, he hasn't had the most important baby in Silicon Valley history.

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// October 23
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