Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Controlling the time you sell 

I didn't come to the office today until 12:30. I attended a talk on housing this AM, visited some local leaders, and for an hour just worked from my Panera away from home. It's one of the great attractions of worklife in academia -- to be in charge of your own schedule.

Increasingly, companies are catching on that workers value flexible schedules enough to perhaps trade salary away for it. Best Buy appears to be one example.
The official policy for this post-face-time, location-agnostic way of working is that people are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done. "This is like TiVo for your work," says the program's co-founder, Jody Thompson. By the end of 2007, all 4,000 staffers working at corporate will be on ROWE [Results-Oriented Work Environment]. Starting in February, the new work environment will become an official part of Best Buy's recruiting pitch as well as its orientation for new hires. And the company plans to take its clockless campaign to its stores � a high-stakes challenge that no company has tried before in a retail environment.
It's an example of listening to your employees -- this was not a planned change at BBY -- but adopted because it works to help the company's bottom line:
It seems to be working. Since the program's implementation, average voluntary turnover has fallen drastically, CultureRx says. Meanwhile, Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE. Employee engagement, which measures employee satisfaction and is often a barometer for retention, is way up too, according to the Gallup Organization, which audits corporate cultures.
One of my happy experiments this fall has been taking subgroups out to meet off campus. I don't think we do that enough, and the change in environment is energizing for many people who do this. And we've increasingly turned one room in our suite into an informal meeting space and today someone put in an espresso maker. (All paid for by ourselves, not state dollars!) All to avoid this place ever feeling like an office. There's surprisingly little of this in academia compared to outside the ivory tower.

(h/t: reader jw)