Best Buy's 'Results Only Work Environment': Changing the Productivity Paradigm?

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB092
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 2003-2006
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Best Buy Co. Inc.
Industry : Electronics Retail
Countries : The US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Excerpts Contd...

The Outcomes

As of late 2006, more than 50 percent of the employees at Best Buy's headquarters were on ROWE. The company announced that ROWE had yielded positive results in the few years that it had been in practice at the headquarters.

Reportedly, ROWE teams had an average 3.2 percent lower voluntary turnover than non-ROWE teams. Average productivity of ROWE teams had also increased 35 percent. Employee engagement, which was a measure of job satisfaction and hence an important factor in retention, was also reported to be significantly higher in ROWE teams. Best Buy reportedly witnessed several non-quantifiable benefits as well. For instance, managers at the company said that ROWE made their work easier. They admitted that, despite their previous misgivings, performance was actually easier to track under ROWE than under conventional systems. Similarly, problems were also easier to identify and correct...

ROWE's Limitations

Notwithstanding its acceptance among employees, ROWE had several kinks that needed to be ironed out before the program could become a workplace standard. One of the biggest concerns about ROWE was that the difference between the work and personal time of the employees could become blurred. Some people felt that just because employees were not working when they should be, they might be working at all times of the day, blurring the difference between work and leisure. This had the potential to create more stress for them than long work hours, said some analysts...


In late 2006, Best Buy announced that it was working on a project that would allow ROWE to be implemented in a modified form in the company's retail stores, which employed almost 120,000 people. The company believed that an employee-friendly work environment could provide a solution to the problem of high attrition in the stores. (Best Buy's voluntary attrition in its retail stores was around 65 percent in 2006.) "It's a well-known fact that it's difficult to keep people working in retail - not just at Best Buy - because of the hours and the stress. We want to look at deeply held beliefs in the retail environment and whether they're actually in the way of both associates' and customers' needs," said Thompson...


Exhibit I: Best Buy Logo
Exhibit II: Annual Income Statement


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