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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Best Buy's Work Culture

Over the years, Best Buy had evolved a demanding work culture that glorified long hours. Rewards and recognition went to employees who were willing to give work priority over personal life, and there was little scope for work/life balance. Reportedly, a Best Buy manager once gave a recognition plaque to an employee "who turns on the lights in the morning and turns them off at night"...

The "Results Only" Work Environment

In 2003, Cali Ressler (Ressler) and her colleague at Best Buy's HR department, Jody Thompson (Thompson), got together unofficially to try and develop a new workplace program that would stem the constantly increasing attrition at the company. They came up with the program that later came to be known as ROWE.

However, they realized that the program was too radical for it to get approval from the top management. Therefore, they waited until the right opportunity came up to implement it. Eventually, the program was launched clandestinely at two corporate departments (the properties and communications divisions) where the attrition was exceptionally high...

The Working of Rowe

ROWE was a system which worked on the principle that productivity was the cornerstone of work. Working did not mean being at office. Rather, work was done when results were accomplished. ROWE's vision was that productivity at work should be measured by output and not by the number of hours spent on the work...

Not an Easy Road

Implementing ROWE was not easy. In the first place, it required a complete overhaul of people's attitudes towards work. Traditionally, employees were programmed to think that displaying a commitment to work by coming in early and leaving late could ensure them success. But this was eliminated as a criterion for judging performance under ROWE. Several employees who were working with ROWE admitted to having misgivings about whether they would be able to cope with the new system. Some people reportedly felt confused about what would be expected from them at the workplace. Staying longest at the office was no longer a guarantee of success...

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