Best Buy

Don't worry, the ban on telecommuting won't become a trend

March 7, 2013: 5:00 AM ET

First Yahoo, then Best Buy. Will your company be next to tell employees they can't work from home? It's not likely.

working-from-home

FORTUNE –Best Buy followed Yahoo this week by  ending its work from anywhere policy, but that doesn't mean there's a new trend in corporate America. Unless you're at a struggling company desperate to turn business around, working from home is here to stay.

The changes at Best Buy (BBY) and Yahoo (YHOO) are unique; they come amid hard times in which both companies have tapped new CEOs to turn things around. Best Buy, like other retailers, has been losing sales to online rivals such as Amazon (AMZN). Last March, the consumer electronic big box chain announced a major restructuring that includes closing stores, cutting jobs and trimming hundreds of millions of dollars in costs.

Yahoo is also orchestrating a closely watched turnaround. Its revenues have declined in the past few years as companies like Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) garner more users and advertising dollars.

MORE: Why layoffs are for lazy corporate overseers

Like it or not, both companies are looking to change their basic corporate cultures by getting employees to work -- where else? -- at the office. Under CEO Hubert Joly, who joined the company last August, Best Buy said earlier this week it will kill its Results Only Work Environment, which allowed employees to work wherever they wanted, including home. The chain's 4,000 non-store employees could still work out of the office, but now they will need a manager's approval. Similarly, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was tapped for the top spot last July, instituted a policy last month that says employees could no longer work from home.

Years ago, the announcements might not have been such a big deal. But now that working remotely seems almost routine, the changes have unleashed endless outrage. Whatever critics are saying, Best Buy and Yahoo aren't necessarily against employees working from home. They are troubled companies taking big measures to turn things around. It's hard to effect change when so many employees don't come into the office. And as Slate's Matt Yglesias suggested, the end of work from home policies may really just be a back-handed way to lay off unproductive employees and cut costs.

MORE: On Sheryl Sandberg and conquering confidence killers

What's happening at Yahoo and Best Buy won't likely carry over to healthy companies. After all, corporate America still sees the benefits of the home office. As The Wall Street Journal highlighted, more Americans are working from home at least one day a week than ever before. It's a trend that has benefitted corporations by boosting productivity and lowering costs. About 9.4% of U.S. workers, or 13.4 million people, worked at least one day at home per week in 2010, compared with 7%, or 9.2 million, in 1997, according to a Census Bureau report cited by the Journal.

Years from now, if Yahoo and Best Buy turn their businesses around, it may not be that surprising to find their employees back at their home offices.

  • Best Buy's surprise stock spike

    Why did Best Buy stock jump before new takeover news?

    FORTUNE -- Best Buy (BBY) stock yesterday opened trading at $11.95 per share. Then it ping-ponged higher throughout the day, before closing 1.92% higher $12.18. Decent day, but nothing too notable. Then came the aftermarket, in which Best Buy shares spiked all the way up to $12.85 at around 5pm.

    It wasn't until several hours later that The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Best Buy MORE

    - Dec 13, 2012 10:14 AM ET
  • The defunct startup that beat Best Buy in court

    Best Buy found liable of stealing corporate secrets, in a case funded by venture capitalists.

    By Josh Kopelman, contributor

    You can imagine the scene in the boardroom. The CEO of our portfolio company, Techforward, is discussing a "make the company opportunity:" Best Buy wants us to to power their nation-wide buyback program.  And Best Buy is talking about launching it with a Super Bowl commercial!

    We had just finished a pilot test in several MORE

    Dec 5, 2012 4:51 PM ET
  • The Best Buy-out just got harder

    There's more to it than just a slumping stock price.

    FORTUNE -- Best Buy shares took a beating today, after the electronics retailer announced a management shakeup and warned that third quarter earnings would be significantly worse than previously expected. Shares were off more than 10% to finish the day at $15.17 a piece, which represents a market cap of just $5.7 billion.

    To some, this means that Best Buy (BBY) MORE

    - Oct 25, 2012 6:14 PM ET
  • Best Buy-out: Wait 'til 2013?

    Today's agreement just kicks the can down the road.

    FORTUNE -- Best Buy founder and former CEO Dick Schulze now has an opportunity to buy the troubled electronics retailer. But it's still going to be very difficult to do so in 2012.

    Minneapolis-based Best Buy (BBY) this morning announced that it has agreed to let Schulze see the company's books, and to put together an investor group (something otherwise prohibited by Minnesota MORE

    - Aug 27, 2012 11:53 AM ET
  • Best Buy shareholders caught in the crossfire

    Why can't Best Buy's board and its former CEO just get along?

    FORTUNE -- Best Buy (BBY) shareholders must be feeling like children in the middle of a bitter custody battle. They keep hearing how both parents are looking out for their best interests but, in their heart, they know that each side just wants to keep the shiniest toy.

    On one side is Best Buy founder and former chairman Dick Schulze, MORE

    - Aug 22, 2012 4:38 PM ET
  • Best Buy bid shows leverage is back

    Bid for electronics retailer not out of line with recent debt-filled deals.

    FORTUNE - Analysts' reaction to the bid to buy Best Buy (BBY) from the company's former chairman was this: Not going to happen. They said private equity investors would balk at the amount of debt Richard Schulze would need to raise to make the deal fly. "This would be a very hard deal to pull off," says Michael Pachter, MORE

    - Aug 7, 2012 5:00 AM ET
  • Credit Suisse is Best Buy banker and believer

    Credit Suisse analyst says Best Buy will survive.

    FORTUNE -- Credit Suisse (CS) is advising Best Buy (BBY) founder Dick Schulze on his proposed take-private acquisition of the electronics retailer. It also is one of the few banks whose senior retail research analyst doesn't think Best Buy is on its way to the liquidation scrap heap.

    On July 31, Gary Balter published a research note titled Disagreeing with Consensus.  He begins:

    "The current consensus on MORE

    - Aug 6, 2012 4:00 PM ET
  • Best Buy's poor stock pop

    Why aren't investors betting on a Best Buy acquisition?

    FORTUNE -- Best Buy (BBY) founder Dick Schulze today indicated an interest in buying the troubled electronics retailer for upwards of $8.8 billion, or between $24 and $26 per share.

    At the low end, that would represent around a 36% premium to Friday's closing price for Best Buy stock. So why are shares up only around 14% as of this writing? Is there some sort MORE

    - Aug 6, 2012 2:34 PM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.