Much has been made about the Yahoo move to stop their remote work program and have employees return to the office. (In fact, we have weighed in on how virtual workers and strategies make a difference.) Now Best Buy has made a similar decision to reverse their ‘Results Only Work Environment’ or ROWE, and also asked corporate workers to return to the office.
The leaders of these organizations are making tough decisions they feel will improve the productivity of their organizations. However, I think there is another issue beyond working from home that is worthy of discussion.
The Confidential Memo Heard Round the World
The fact that an internal, confidential memo was distributed widely to the media is indicative of other challenges within an organization. Sure the subject matter was considered controversial, particularly for a technology company, but what about the fact that the change was played out in the media?
There are former Yahoo employees who believe the change is best because of misuse of the telecommuting environment. Best Buy has now decided that working from home is a privilege and to be determined on a case by case basis. Obviously leaders from both organizations feel a significant change to their existing environment is in order.
But is telecommuting the core issue?
According to Erin Kelly, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota who has authored studies on Best Buy’s ROWE program, companies are unfairly scapegoating flexible work programs for their performance challenges.
As told to the Minnesota Star Tribune, “I’m concerned that these flexibility initiatives and telework initiatives are getting blamed for what may be other problems those organizations are facing in the broader market,” Kelly said.
In her research, Kelly said ROWE “reduced work-family conflicts. In the period we were studying employees in the ROWE departments, they were less likely to leave the company and less likely to be thinking about leaving the company.”
Positive Relationships Must be Created
To create positive work environments – whether virtual or on premise – requires building a culture that includes a large dose of trust.
Creating a positive culture starts with the leadership team and requires a focus that places employees and customers at the core of every operational decision. Attracting the right talent means developing an environment that is enticing to them, and positive for your clients.
To ensure continued success requires focusing on the DNA of your company. Flexibility, loyalty, and passion for the work is key. Add a big dose of trust and mutual respect, and you have a recipe for a successful environment regardless of the physical location of the people working with the organization.