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Best Buy Institutes Extreme Flex Time

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-that's-managing dept.

Businesses 300

s31523 writes "The company I work at has a flex time policy where basically, you can come in and leave within a window of time, as long as you are in the office during 'core' hours (10am-2pm). Best Buy has gone extreme, they have completely banished traditional views of office hours. Citing a preference for results over time invested, the company has completely done away with schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles." From the article: "Another thing about this experiment: It wasn't imposed from the top down. It began as a covert guerrilla action that spread virally and eventually became a revolution. So secret was the operation that Chief Executive Brad Anderson only learned the details two years after it began transforming his company. Such bottom-up, stealth innovation is exactly the kind of thing Anderson encourages. The Best Buy chief aims to keep innovating even when something is ostensibly working. '[The 'results-only work environment'] was an idea born and nurtured by a handful of passionate employees,' he says. 'It wasn't created as the result of some edict.'" Sheesh. I work from home and even I have a schedule. Here's hoping it catches on.

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300 comments

In the end the only thing that matters is: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153100)

Best Buy still sucks.

might work for some, but not for me (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153154)

All of my business is service related, my customers work 8-5, so I have to work 8-5...... No big deal, I'm in field service, I'm out of the office 80% of the time anyway.

Re:might work for some, but not for me (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154114)

But what if your customers were using this ROWE system. How would you cope?

Re:In the end the only thing that matters is: (4, Funny)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153164)

Best Buy Stores may (as you say) suck, but the corporate offices are looking like one sweet gig here in Minnesotah--yah der don'tcha know...

Re:In the end the only thing that matters is: (4, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153226)

Minnesotah--yah der don'tcha know...

Dude, I've lived in Minnesota most of my life and if I ever hear you talking like that to outsiders again I swear I'll slap you upside the face with a hockey stick! No hotdish for you!

Minnesoda rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153452)

You betcha!

Minnepop rules. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153572)

Do you consider me a buttjack???

Re:In the end the only thing that matters is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17154518)

No job for you, psycho!

Re:In the end the only thing that matters is: (3, Funny)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154214)

Best Buy Stores may (as you say) suck, but the corporate offices are looking like one sweet gig here in Minnesotah--yah der don'tcha know...
Does the Best Buy corporate offices use the geek squad for their IT support?

Re:In the end the only thing that matters is: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153354)

Wow, you read my mind, I thought the same thing.

Depends on the people (5, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153134)

For some (hopefully most) people, this is ideal. They'll work when they find themselves to be most productive, which in turn, makes the company more productive. However, you'll always get a few individuals who take advantage of such a policy, and in some environments, they spoil it for the rest of us.

Re:Depends on the people (1)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153254)

They should be easy to spot and as long as you have a process to deal with those exceptions than you are fine.

Re:Depends on the people (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153268)

Sure, it's fine so long as you never need to do any real-time collaboration. I don't do flex time, but my company does have a sizable office in India, and the people on my team there work during the Indian day (US night). It makes collaboration very difficult, since if you need some piece of information you either need to wake someone up in the middle of the night or send an email and wait until the next day for an answer.

I suspect anyone that collaborates with anyone else is going to end up essentially working all the time, since even if they aren't in the office they'll be tethered to their cell phone as people who ARE in the office call up to ask questions.

Re:Depends on the people (4, Insightful)

notbob (73229) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153942)

Solution here is simple... fire the people in India and go back to being a real American company with American workers.

They'll eventually fire more Americans the longer you help them support the bastards in India.

Just say no to out sourcing.

Re:Depends on the people (1)

Molarki (1036972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154126)

Well, real time collaboration doesn't happen in the office either (necessarily). You and your coworkers are up during the US night in order to deal with your sattelite operation in India. I've sometimes gotten immediate information that I needed, but it was because I'd tried to become friends with everyone. Put in a sufficiently long day. Do what your paid to do. And seek out ways to help more people. That's where I think we will find collaboration.

Re:Depends on the people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153474)

Best Buy only has reprobates - or is it rebates?

Re:Depends on the people (4, Insightful)

aeoo (568706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153732)

It doesn't matter if Best Buy pays for the results. Who cares if someone spends the hours or doesn't? You got results, you got paid. You, as Best Buy, are willing to pay for some amount of results. How these results get accomplished is not really your concern as long as the consumer experience is not hurt in the process. If consumers are happy and the results they want are accomplished, then it really doesn't matter who did what when, and in fact, it's one less thing you need to manage.

Re:Depends on the people (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153822)

For some (hopefully most) people, this is ideal. They'll work when they find themselves to be most productive, which in turn, makes the company more productive. However, you'll always get a few individuals who take advantage of such a policy, and in some environments, they spoil it for the rest of us.

The problem is lawsuits.

Take a small company with no HR. If someone is taking advantage of this policy, you fire them. In a large company with an HR, you have the 3 talks before that spoiler is gone....

I hate ducks....always go duck hunting and when you get a new eagle...watch it the first couple of months to make sure it isn't a duck. Typically you can get someone fired in the first two months of their employement without HR stepping in...

Do it....get rid of the bad wood before it is a problem.

Re:Depends on the people (3, Funny)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154100)

Ducks, Eagles and Wood? Good grief, you sound like a certain Simpson:

One way to get rid of them is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time we went over to Shelbyville during the war, I wore an onion on my belt....which was the style at the time...you couldn't get those white ones, you could only get those big yellow ones.................now where was I........oh yeah, the important thing was I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time, you couldn't get those... (trails off)

Is it just me... (4, Interesting)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153140)

or does it sound like the CEO was basically forced to go along with this idea or it would look like he was a victim of mutiny? I mean he already heads up a company where employee theft or "shrink" as they like to call it is extremely high. Given the chance I bet any employee of Best Buy would gladly stab anyone at the Top just to make a quick buck.

Re:Is it just me... (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153308)

The first thing I thought was, "how can a CEO of a major corporation go for two years without knowing what is going on in the day to day operation?" Of course, then I wondered how it is that he couldn't have been fired for such a lack of knowledge. Finally, I realized he must be one slick bastard to keep his job while the entire company was running on a different schedule without his knowledge. Either that or he has a special file with pictures of all the board members doing horrible things to/with farm animals.

Personally, I'm betting on the farm animals angle.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

coldtone (98189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153528)

The thing is everyone at the C level has been working extreme flex time for many years. Its hard to notice that your staff isn't keeping working 8 - 6 when you don't.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Insightful)

coldtone (98189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153562)

Please let me rephrase

Everyone at the C level has been on extreme flex time for year. It's hard to notice your staff isn't working 8 - 6 when you aren't.

Re:Is it just me... (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153674)

It's my experience that this is the case in most places.

My boss, a COO (COO == a CIO who also has machines that get actual grease on them under his authority), worked a big 3 days this week, including one day that was 11-6...I think I worked 9-8 on the same day.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153620)

Touche.

Actually, I thought the same thing about his inability to see what was happening first hand. Most CxOs are supremely out of touch with the day to day runnings of the corporation. Still, I would expect that the filtering of programs and processes would have made it through the several layers of management it would take to hit the CEOs ears. Then again, it's possible that the lower management might have been fearful that top management would not approve of such an arrangement, and that's why the whole thing was kept so quiet. Until, of course, there was no way to hide the fact that the building was only 60-70% staffed during the day.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153318)

That's kind of the way things should be, although if the strategy fails, it really should be his responsibility to whip everyone back into line.

Re:Is it just me... (3, Funny)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154380)

Given the chance I bet any employee of Best Buy would gladly stab anyone at the Top just to make a quick buck.


Yes, but they'd only make money if they mail in the rebate with a photocopy of the original stabbing impliment and the original bloody suit.

Ah, the bottom? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153158)

From the bottom up? So does this mean the clerks at best buy can come in whenever now? And have been for years? Somehow I think this definition of 'bottom' is ... innaccurate.

Also, some info missing from the summary.. Zonk's schedule follows:

8:00 am-4:00 pm - Bash Sony.

I don't want to rain on this parade, but ... (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153160)

if nobody is keeping any kind of regular hours, and you can't schedule a meeting, how can any sufficiently large group of people collaborate on anything? Maybe they use wikis or something else without the need for immediacy? (What would that do to the corporate culture?)

At best buy? (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153366)

"...how can any sufficiently large group of people collaborate on anything?"

Do they anyway?

Re:I don't want to rain on this parade, but ... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153686)

I think this is a terrible idea. It's very important to have a sense of community with your coworkers. If everyone sort of comes and goes as they please you lose this bond. Flex time is good, but if you take it too far like this things will fall apart. You can't have meetings. You can't find people who know a certain system if you need help. You get very isolated. It's very important to be able to have communication with your coworkers. This new policy won't last long. They should make at least a couple days a week mandatory.

Re:I don't want to rain on this parade, but ... (2, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154144)

I've worked in this kind of environment for about five years. It started during my PhD, and then continued when I decided that I would stay within academia. The most important thing is how you measure output; measuring time in the office is a shitty metric that doesn't gain you anything. The article sounds as if Best Buy have this angle nailed, so they can measure productivity even if their staff are flitting in and out. In academia it's easy - you keep an eye on how many papers someone delivers.

Meetings can be tricky, but it comes down to people finding spots in their calendars that overlap. This is harder when person A tends to work 8-4 and person B tends to work 5-12 but people just make allowances and come in early / late. Community isn't such an issue. When people are going through a patch of working with each other their daily schedules tends to synchronise, and then destabilise again afterwards. There is plenty of email / IM for people to set things up, and the habit of expecting an instant response is easy to break. It does take more personal disciple and timekeeping to make it work - but the rewards are worth it.

Re:I don't want to rain on this parade, but ... (1)

saider (177166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154332)


All the people have to do is show up for the meeting. Its not like people are just getting up and leaving in the middle of the meeting, or not showing up at all because they don't feel like it. You just look at your schedule when you wake up and see that you have a meeting a 2:30. Get into the office by then and things are fine. Communication with the group will result in the meetings being scheduled at the appropriate times, and people will make sure that their schedules are free during these times.

You just need self-motivated people working for you.

Re:I don't want to rain on this parade, but ... (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154496)

if nobody is keeping any kind of regular hours, and you can't schedule a meeting, how can any sufficiently large group of people collaborate on anything?

I don't see where it says you can't schedule a meeting. If you need to collaborate with someone face-to-face, then two of you figure out a time that you can both be in the same place to collaborate. If you're both being stubborn asses and can't agree on a time and place - well, that's what middle management is there to sort out.

More Hours? (5, Insightful)

cliffhanger407 (974949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153162)

The weird thing to consider is how much people end up working. I've found what when I'm working hard on a project and I approach it without a schedule, I end up working for a few extra hours without even noticing. It means that people keep their morale up while still maybe being willing to work more hours. Basically, this is taking salaried work to a whole new level: they acknowledge that people have responsibilities to maintain and judge them based on whether or not the job is done, rather than whether or not they are in the office at a given time. I say bravo. What will be weird is seeing if they can implement this in retail stores like one of the later paragraphs suggests.

Re:More Hours? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153464)

You should come work for the gov't. You can slack off all day and never get fired as long as you make it in 0800 and leave at 1700. They will just promote you to make you somoene else's problem (Dilbert Principle). However if you work your ass off covering for the slackers you will get the same benefits but die younger from stress and low moral. In the end everyone hates the job you are doing anyway because you are in the gov't and regardless of Democratic or Republican control no one likes the agency you work for. So you just end up as a lifer slacking off and feeling good about it eventually as the guilt of not being productive becomes a ever distant memory. Or you can fight your way out, and hope to God to find a job with as much time off because now you are addicted to it.

Re:More Hours? (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154134)

I heard the civil service described as a "velvet-lined rut". Everyone is always talking of leaving, but very few make the break because the leave and other perks are just too good.

Re:More Hours? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154224)

Ya and the worst part about it is, the longer you do civil service, the less capable you are of doing any other work. As there is no training, you are often promoted beyond your capabilities and unless you are a rare person, any personal initiative to learn on your own gets stripped right out of you because as soon as you learn something you have to wait 5 years to apply it at work. I am attempting to balance the learning curve by stressing myself in the private sector part time, there I get weird new situations thrown my way all the time and get to think on my feet. A lot more fun.

Re:More Hours? (1)

Squapper (787068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153770)

...But is working more hours actually better (for both the project and you as a person)? I work for a large computer game developer - in an industry know for insane chrunches and late hours. Wich makes a policy of ours, forced by the bosses, quite interesting:

Avoid overtime.

Ofcourse, things has to be done, but working more is not a good solution. Cutting down the workload and hiring more people is. But how do we hire more skilled developers when all experienced programmers and artists are already employed by other companies? Interestingly, people seams to be attracted towards a work situation with less flex and more structure when the come from companies with looser schedules...

Finally! (1)

Literaphile (927079) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153184)

Now, if only their in-store employees would do the same thing, then we'd get some REAL deals merchandise. What's that? Nobody at the cash register? Oh well, I'll just pay later...

Well, considering... (1)

ajenteks (943860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153200)

...that improv actors [improveverywhere.com] can make better Best Buy employees than most people on their pay-roll, I can't say I'm surprised.

Re:Well, considering... (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153498)

I like the one point where one of the agents describes one of the real employees at "Tripping on Acid". Nice one Best Buy. Great hiring and review process you got there.

Funny (2, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153204)

The local best Buy has gotten crappier over the last few years.
They've gone from almost always having what I am looking for to almost never having what I am looking for.
A simple USB mouse? Nope, just wireless and the $70 gamer mice. Off to Staples
A new PC game? Nope, ours never seems to have games on release. Off to Eb Games
A cheap cable? Nope, just a $50 Geek Squad version. Off to Wal-mart for the $10 version

Re:Funny (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153330)

I know what you mean, in a way. I live between two Best Buys, one across a freeway and one at a mall. The freeway one is probably 1 1/4 the size of the mall one. It never stocks any new PC games until 1-2 weeks after release. The one at the mall stocks them with 2 days (I've actually seen them stocking games before the release day lol). I guess it's just the atmosphere, the one at the mall is built to sell a lot of stuff the moment people demand it, the other one seems to be more of a window shopping place, much more open and fewer cashiers.

Re:Funny (1)

7macaw (933316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153494)

I buy games a couple of years after the release. It's double savings: older games are cheaper themselves, and they need older (i.e. _musch_ cheaper video card).

It only means.... (5, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153236)

Employees will have time to chase you into the parking lot in a desparate attempt to get you to agree to that extended warranty. Hell, they might even follow you home, bitches!

Re:It only means.... (1)

AnyLoveIsGoodLove (194208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154132)

You finally figured out the Profit formula!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you realized these warranties were HALF of Best Buy's TOTAL profit....you might have a chasing program out of the corporate offices as well.

The BB formula goes something like this....

1) Lure People in with crap
2) Annoy the crap out of them until they buy some low prices electronic item
3) Coerce / dupe buyers in crappy extended warranties
4) Profit !!!!!!!!!!!

Congradulations my friend, you're one of the few on the Internet that have cracked the code.....

We are doing something similar (5, Insightful)

Wiseleo (15092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153242)

I hate rigid schedules. They create traffic jams.

Re:We are doing something similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153910)

I work at a pretty flexible hour too. In fact it doesn't matter WHEN I come in as long as my work is complete and I attend arranged meetings. I love Rigid workhours because they create predictable traffic jams. And with my schedule, I know how to avoid them. Yay to bureaucracy

A.K.A..... (4, Insightful)

no_pets (881013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153244)

ROWE, Results Only Work Environment. A.K.A. "Git-R-Dun". I'd be more efficient if I could leave sooner.

Re:A.K.A..... (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154462)

I'd be more efficient if I could leave sooner.

I'm not sure that's the right angle to take. This implies that you have a fixed set of tasks, and that you would do those tasks faster if it meant you could leave work when they were finished, regardless of how long they took to complete. It also means that your boss has already examined the tasks, examined you, and decided that they would take you a full day to do. (If this wasn't true, they would have given you more tasks.)

In contrast, I think most self-driven employees (i.e. the kind that would comprise an office where "flex-time" is allowed) make their own list of tasks to achieve higher-level company objectives. This may complement a list of fixed tasks from management, but generally freedom is given to budget time for both lists.

In other words, if you finish your work on the task your boss gave you after six hours of work, you spend the next two hours voluntarily brainstorming new products or efficiencies for your company, or doing data mining on sales to better learn customer patterns, or checking up with key accounts to see if they need assistance, or doing web training on the latest version of an app you use, etc. Only when you are willing to take such initiative is flex time appropriate. Then, they may not mind if you arrive at work at 10:30 AM, finish your boss' task around 7:00 PM (taking into account a long lunch and a game of ping-pong in the afternoon), then work at home from 9:00-11:00 PM on your own initiative. Or, you get to work at 6:00 AM, work nonstop, and leave at 2:00 PM. Your choice.

They have yet to address... (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153252)

...that little issue when I go in there with my step-dad to get him a laptop and I know more than the guy selling it to us.

1. They need to ensure more than one register is open when there are 20 people on line.

2. They need to ensure that the people they hire for the different departments actually know something about what they are selling. Not what they memorized from the training. Actual KNOWLEDGE.

Re:They have yet to address... (4, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153396)

Umm if they had actual knowledge I highly doubt they would be working the floor at a best buy for minimum wage.

Re:They have yet to address... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153448)

While I have never worked for best buy personally, I know a few people that have...from what I understand, they pay decently (compared to other similar stores, that is)

Re:They have yet to address... (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153552)

I look at it this way. I work in the gov't for 18.7 an hour to do tech support. We are the 50th worst salaried state in the nation. If a private sector job cant beat my pay then it pays ass. Luckily I do private consulting on the side since I am an exempt employee, and the couple hours of consulting I do a week makes up for the horrible pay.

Great, but... (1)

Lunar_Lamp (976812) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153276)

Whilst I see significant merits in this system, surely this discourages collaboration between workers? Perhaps in some environments this is not essential, but particularly in research environments the ability to collaborate with others is essential. If everyone else in your department is working midnight=>10am as their main time to get work done, and you choose to work during the day, it has to hamper your ability to get real-time feedback on queries you have? It would seem to me to be great in a company where each employer had a high degree of autonomy, but I don't see this being helpful in many of the environments that require high levels of collaboration.

Re:Great, but... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153376)

Well yeah, but if you're not tied down to mandatory meetings or other garbage, collaborating will be easier. Collaboration in more structured environments is difficult too. But since you can work practically "whenever," as counter intuitative as this may seem, it should be easier to get together.

Shocking (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153280)

In this capitalistic society for some reason, long hours equates to higher productivity in manager's minds. I work in the gov't (please hold back the boos, the holidays/vacation days flat out stomp any organization in this part of the country). So as badly as I want to move to private sector I just cant because taking the cut in holidays isnt worth it. And the last job I found at a university with similar benefits paid a laughable $11-$13 an hour for support. However the flex time kinda sucks as it is 8-5 40 hour weeks. 8 sharp, 5 sharp. Sure the 40 is nice but I think I would be happier working 12 hours here, and 6 hours there as the schedule demanded. What is it like in the private sector (I am in the midwest).

Re:Shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153508)

Not sure about your job but my last job, a network consultant, I had 'flex' time based on client needs. Some days I'd fly my RC plane. Other days I spent 12 hours giving CPR to servers.

Of course, it wasn't scheduled.

Re:Shocking (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153964)

Ya, I am slowly moving to independent network consulting. It is amazing how poorly set up many shops are, sure I capitalize off of it when I get the "You know networks, could you come look at some issues for me?" I come over and it looks like a Rat did their wiring job for them, The server is a toaster oven smoking while running SBS 2000 with SQL server, and serving kiddie pron to Hawaii. Not to mention the sheer number of passwords and who does and does not know them because they have had so many consultants come in over the years.

Enter me and I do the same job I do from 8-5 without a thank you, I am there for a time revamping, take a $2K-$5K check and they think I can walk on water. The only drawback is the hours, but as you inferred, they aren't that bad.

'Results only' is bull (4, Insightful)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153290)

I can't count how many times I've heard lip-service paid to 'results-only' performance reviews. It's a bunch of crap. Managers will still reward people they like and punish people they don't, regardless of performance. Schedules and 'face-time' will always have a huge impact on performance reviews and rewards, simply because if you work 8pm - 4am and work miracles, nobody will know that you were the one doing everything. For all they know (regardless of any paperwork saying you were responsible), it was the office gnomes that with their magical faerie dust that did all of the work.

Like a lot of things, 'results-only' is great in theory, but almost impossible to implement in practice due to human nature.

Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid (5, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153320)

Good for them; it sounds like it's working out so far, and if the employees like it, then roll with it.

But, at the risk of sounding like one of the old fogeys the article talks about, it's not for me, and for the reasons those old fogeys mention.

a) I work better when at work. I don't like to work at home; one of the nice things about my 5 mile commute is that, if I have to get any significant work done "after hours," I can drive to the office and do it. My focus is better when I don't have my fiancee, my cats, my 360, my Wii, my stereo, my television, etc. around all tempting me to spend time with them, instead. Moreover, I don't want to be available for routine work 24/7 - I'm already "on call" for crises all the time, but it's with the understanding that I'm only to be bothered if it really is a crisis.

b) There is a value to meetings - at least, some of them. We'd all love to completely ditch the useless all staff meetings that are pretty much just a productivity black hole, but some meetings are valuable. In my office, we have one weekly meeting just of the technology team - it's a tight group and a focused meeting. It's on the schedule from 1:00 - 2:00, but we've only actually been in the meeting until 2:00 once since I've been here. We all have pretty specialized jobs, but they all inter-relate. I'm the DBA, for example, and Dave is the storage architect. It's good to touch base on a regular basis to keep up with what's going on outside our fairly narrow areas.

c) I'm not good on the phone. My hearing isn't what it could be, and I spend too much mental power on making sure I'm hearing what the other person is saying to really be processing well. Face to face, I can use rudimentary lip reading and body language to "fill in the gaps" without the mental effort.

This, of course, is just the way I work - for people who don't have my hangups, this is a great system. But I'd end up working somewhere else, most likely.

Re:Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153726)

a) I work better when at work. I don't like to work at home; one of the nice things about my 5 mile commute is that,

That is nice, I live no more than 10 miles, but if we hit rush hour expect 1+ hour commute. I feel sorry for the people that live 30-60 miles that drive here. I take it you do not live in a metropolitan area... Or at least one without bad commuting traffic.

b) There is a value to meetings - at least, some of them.

If it wasn't for a new "major change" in our policy meeting, I wouldn't be able to remember the last time I had a meeting other than a 1 on 1 with management for reviews. Of course we don't have projects per say... I suppose we are more like contractors.

c) I'm not good on the phone. My hearing isn't what it could be, and I spend too much mental power on making sure I'm hearing what the other person is saying to really be processing well.

You would not have a job at my place. 95% of communication is done on the phone. Heck... It would be impossible otherwise considering many of our clients are thousands of miles away from us.

But then again... We don't have telecommuting and I don't think we could have a free time either because of totally different reasons.

I think mostly because we do a great deal of collaboration all at the same time. I guess we could be in different offices, but if no one was here at a certain time and something goes down or blows up... Then there would be hell to pay.

But your reasons don't work for everyone and I would say that tech companies should try other systems and given the ability to start my own business I would follow the idea mostly because I would not have an office but rather a group of contractors to assist with various projects.

Re:Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154042)

Grandparent: keep working your 9-5 job
Parent: find a job that you get to work from home or have flex hours.

End of thread.

Re:Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154058)

You're right; the city I live in (Madison, WI) has just over half a million people in its metro area. We do get congestion at rush hour (the streets are designed for roughly two thirds of the capacity they actually see), but it's not long-lasting and not, generally, catastrophic (barring, of course, major accidents, blizzards, fog that turns you inside out, etc).

Most of our "meetings" are very informal two-to-five person get togethers in someone's office, and that works well for us. But we do have that one weekly meeting, and, to me at least, there's a real value in finding out what the other team members are doing. In a consulting environment, of course, I can see that not being as useful, since there isn't much direct impact between what one person is doing for company A on what another is doing for company B.

Yep, that's a job I wouldn't have for long. I don't even like ordering pizza over the phone - my fiancee and I have a deal where she calls, and I pay. I accept the phone as part of my job in a necessary evil sort of way, but I do try to minimize it as much as possible. I operate primarily by email, IM, and face to face.

All told, I agree with you completely - my reasons are just that, my reasons, and I don't expect them to be universally applicable. I doubt I'm the only person with a similar reaction to the idea, but for those people and environments this works for, I'm all in favor of it. If your employees are happy and the work is getting done, it's got to be called a win.

Research (5, Insightful)

maverick_starstrider (1005987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153322)

I usually work in research and I find this paradigm to be extremely appealing. The 9-5 think in research is complete bull. You don't get more insightful or innovative while being force to sit at your desk staring at a screen

Re:Research (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17154358)

The 9-5 think in research is complete bull.


Businesses seem to underestimate the effect of unnecessary 9-5 on morale and productivity.

In my experience, 9-5 think is bull most of the time. I have had two jobs where 9-5 was mandated for spurious reasons even when other hours (or flex) had way more benefits. One job I had all the work was done 6am-2pm. There was literally nothing we were allowed to do after 2pm. But 9-5 was still mandated. I was so frustrated at our department being behind because I could not come in earlier, and bored because there was nothing to do after 2pm, that I finally left (to the dismay of several departments, so I'm told).

Another job it was only 9-5 because those who needed to be there 9-5 (e.g. customer service, shipping, etc.) weren't there 9-5. Of course, once the hours were mandated, those workers continued to do whatever they wanted to do, because the problem was a discipline problem, not a time problem. The mandated hours changed my commute from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours. I was not paid for those extra 12.5 hours each week, killing my enthusiasm for the work (and the time-consuming commute was not exactly a joy). I was no longer able to get work done while most people were out of the office, which hurt my productivity immensely. Even arriving and leaving a half an hour earlier would have cut an hour off my commute, but they were absolutely inflexible.

I've got flex in hours and location now. The focus is on getting the work done and I could not be more happy with my job, nor do I believe I have ever been more productive.

Dilbert has done this :) (1)

munrom (853142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153332)

mmmm, am I the only one that was reminded of a Dilbert episode when I raed this? /me waits for stock crash and then buy a controlling share of the company

Bah, I'm already doing it. (4, Funny)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153334)

I work at a local newspaper, and we've already got this implemented!

I work as late as necessary, as long as I work 8 hours (starting at 9 AM or earlier). Heck, the day before thanksgiving, I got to work from 9 AM until 12:20 AM Thanksgiving day! YEAH! I even go to SKIP MY LUNCH BREAK! As long as the paper gets done, they don't care how late I work! Well, if the paper is done, they usually want me to leave, or clock out, since they really don't want to pay overtime..

Sarcasm aside, this is great. Wouldn't work in my industry, seeing as how we are usually pretty crunched for time as is.

A passionate mutiny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153346)

So basically, employees can clock in and out as they please? Sounds good but what about slow times? Say EVERYONE wants to take lunch at the same time. It's now Mexico at 2pm. How's that productive?

I'm sure it feels good though.

I might also comment that this WON'T work in every field. For the mindless drones, say in a call center, this could be a welcome oppurtunity.

Re:A passionate mutiny? (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153636)

I am one of those mindless drones in a call center, and I approve of this message.

I dont think this will work at Best Buy (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153384)

From my experiences Best Buy employees lack the cranial capacity to be able to do anything for themselves, just try asking a question whose answer isn't in the product's sales pitch.

Geek squad is a fraud. (0, Troll)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153406)

They don't deserve the name geek. They like Windows. They say that the hard drive is bad when you get a message, "Windows can't operate this drive." Anyone calling themselfs a geek should know better.

One member of a geek squad was insulted when I said that the person who does a diagnostic should be qualified to do one -- not someone who just came in from the parking lot from collecting carriages. Of course she never disputed the qualified bit.

Re:Geek squad is a fraud. (1)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153808)

You seems to be one of those wonderfull customers that really make the life of underpayed workers easier.

Explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153460)

Well, this explains why you can't get prompt, knowlegable help at Best Buy. Even those folks who are "working" are mainly interested in talking to each other and ignoring customers.

Re:Explains a lot (1)

rengav (456846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153784)

If you read the entire article you would know that they are only doing this at the corporate headquarters not at store level, yet. It will be interesting to see how this works at the store level where the Sales Associate's job is to be available. This could be partially adapted to retail by allowing the employees to write the work schedule, within certain guidelines of course.

Re:Explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17154498)

Looks like you were the only person that even read the summary. This isn't for the blueshirts -- it's for the people that work in the corporate office. I'm sure the retail employees will continue to be treated like garbage.

This can work great if done right (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153600)

This seems ideal for programmers like myself. I've got regular hours now, but in the beginning we had no set hours. That didn't mean less hours--often it meant 12+ hour days, but there was no question about when the time at which the work was done, as long as it was done in a timely manner. I've never experienced extreme flex where hours were not insane for other reasons.

Anyway, it seems like this would work well as long as there are still some deadlines--get that new module coded by the end of the month, and it shouldn't matter that you finished in 3 weeks and took the last week off. Management can consider that last week a reward for effective work. They might decide you can handle more work on the next cycle, which can create an incentive for you to "fill out the month". So, management has to understand that dynamic, and not punish people for efficiency.

On the other side of the equation, workers have to not deploy "filling out" and other obvious means of abuse. It seems like this has a better chance to work well if the employees are incentivised with something other than salary; namely, stock options. Then they are only hurting themselves if they hurt the comnpany, in theory. Of course, we all know that a division of a large corporation can perform well while the company overall performs poorly. That dilutes the stock option incentive, so it seems like incentives for a whole department could help (complete that upgrade in a week, the whole division gets extra pay or options).

In order for it to work well, you need mature, self-directing workers.

You also need workers with output that can be measured. I suspect that there are an awful lot of workers with no real output in our economy, or output that can't be measured (I'm pointing the finger at you, mid-level PHBs). A system like this could weed those guys out! OTOH, you can't apply a system like this to jobs like call-center technicians, floor sales, or even sales managers. A big part of those jobs is simply "being available". The fact that a sales rep hasn't taken a call or helped a customer for a few hours doesn't mean he wasn't doing his job--there was just no input he could act on to creat output.

I can see it now... (4, Funny)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153712)

...this is opposed to the old standby "Work All Days Evenly". A new ROWE vs WADE.

This is how I do my studies.. (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153734)

I tend to attend lectures if I happen to be awake, otherwise not so much. This doesn't obviously work @ exam weeks, but apart from that I pretty much live w/out a schedule :)

Worst. Idea. Ever. (0)

shoolz (752000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153750)

As a programmer turned project manager, I can tell you this is an absolutely insane idea for any type of development environment.

Collaboration with peers and meetings are critical to making a project work. (As much as I hate meetings, they are a necessary evil wherein key decisions are made and critical information exchanged.)

The problem with flex time is that is pares down the number of hours in a day when everybody is actually AVAILABLE. People take early/late lunches, which means 11:30-1:30 is out, so that only leaves 3 hours in the day for cooperation. That's just not enough.

Re:Worst. Idea. Ever. (1)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153966)

shoolz wrote:
As a programmer turned project manager, I can tell you this is an absolutely insane idea for any type of development environment.

I guess its a good thing Best Buy isn't a development environment then, huh?

~Rebecca

Re:Worst. Idea. Ever. (2, Insightful)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154172)

okay, first of all, i am all for telecommuting. if you need an office, fine go to the office, if you don't.. save the company a dollar or two and stay at home. second, meetings? they're mandatory. if you want everyone at a meeting at 8am, give 24 hours notice and specify if they have to be present or merely on the phone (exceptions expected, don't bitch if it happens.. you get to work from home, better than 90% of the world). third, make sure everyone is reachable between certain hours. you will have a happy workforce. you will also have an obedient taskforce, since a job where you can telecommute is rare and high in demand and i'm sure a telecommuter would not want to give up his/her job to return to a 8-5 cubicle hell position.

one of my previous jobs were like this (fortune 100 company) and productivity was high. as my company grows larger i plan on implementing the same policy and save money in the process.

Re:Worst. Idea. Ever. (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154430)

I have to differ with you on this. I work in a evelopment environment were each member of the teamis in a diferent state. Though I have a office building I can go to to "work" I work mostly from home. I collaborate with colleagues using phone, IM, or remote connection to demostrate. We sher files, code, and ideas without the need for the traditional face to face. While I would like to meet those I "work" with in person it does not impact my ability to network and do my job. These days I am less a manager and more a developer, but I see how my manager has adpated to this new environment and has gotten good results from his people. maybe there are folks who cannot work from home because of distractions (I am not one), but performance is measured not by the time I keep in a cube, but how well I meet my deadlines, satisfy my customers, and help improve the bottom line of the company. Considering the crapping work conditions of my company office, I do better by working at home. I will admit I am old school enough that I try to maintain a regular schedule, but flex does not stop the ability to schedule meetings either live or phone. it is about time the IT industry move to the 21st century and changed management styles to take advantage of the technologies that allow people to work from any where and still get the job done.

BestBuy corporate HQ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153798)

I'm not surprised to hear this. The high school kids and slackers who work in the stores are pretty unknowledgable, but as a Minnesotian, I really admire BestBuy. (No I don't work there, nor have I ever worked there!)

I went to school with some people who now work as logistics at best buy. They rave about it; there was a big layoff that took place a about a year ago, but my friends say the exec who was behind a bunch of money losing plans also got the hatchet, which made the employees happy. I have had a tour of the HQ, and its very nice. In addition to flex time, BB workers at the corporate HQ can workever they want in the building; they all have wireless laptops and phones, and there are plenty of places to work all over the building. BB throws private concerts with huge acts like U2 in their in house theater for their employees, has a row of xbox and ps2 (probably xbox360 and ps3 now) machines on the first floor for workers to try out, pool tables, foozeball, a discounted company store, etc.

BestBuy also contributes plenty to local charities and Minnesota Public Radio. Good for them!

Anyway, this must sound really over the top, but I thought it was worth mentioning to people who only see the untrained/unknowledgeable sales staff side of best buy. I wish all workplaces were are good to their employees as it sounds like BestBuy is. Good for them.

My Job, core hours and early Fridays (1)

COredneck (598733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153828)

In my job, technically our company has core hours from 9am to 3pm but on Friday, management basically looks the other way. The place is a ghost town before 12 Noon. Occasionally, we have executives who like doing a 3pm Fri afternoon meeting and management has to go aorund the day before and threaten us if we don't show for the meeting. I still ignore the meeting since I have other plans and they usually announce the meeting the day before. I use "kids" as an excuse to blow off the meeting.

Model effectiveness (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153900)

This model is only as effective as the employees you hire. (Really, every company is only as effective as the employees they hire, but I digress.)

In the end you still have to fire your useless employees, and concentrate on hiring the useful ones. The ones that won't apply just to take advantage of the system.

good job with the deck chairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17154086)

Probably it is not wise to focus the corporation's creative energy on making everybody's headquarters job nicer while the stores (and customer service) crumble.

PS. I haven't been in a "Best Buy" for several years. The last time I was there I spent many minutes stuck in a line while a clerk failed totally to deal with a customer problem. No one of the many staff walking by seemed to notice the long line of customers stuck behind the floundering clerk.

Possibly they were implementing a bottom-up policy of "every customer for himself and the devil take the hindmost".

I left my stuff, walked out and have never been back.

cool (1)

jdcope (932508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154218)

A few years ago I worked for an engineering office that had something similar. Boss didnt care when we came in, just had to work at least 8 hours a day. It was pretty nice to be able to sleep in when I wanted to, and still have a job that paid better than $20/hour.

Government of Canada (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154292)

While I can't vouch for the effectiveness of Best Buy's system, I work for the federal government (Canada) and the work hours are pretty flexible. I can begin work anytime between 7am and 9am, and finish between 3pm and 5pm. This translates to everyone being available during the core hours (9-3) for meetings, etc., but the time you start / finish beyond that is at your discretion. It's very convenient, makes working a steady job less routine, and helps you avoid the 9-5'er traffic rush :)

Maybe there is hope for Best Buy yet (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154500)

If we can get a few people in one department in one store to treat their customers right, it just might spread.

Back Asswards? (1)

emil10001 (985596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154514)

Am I the only one wondering how the CEO can be innovating things that he doesn't know are going on. It seems pretty odd to me. How can he promote "stealth innovation" and expect to keep a handle on what's going on in his business? What if the people innovating sealthfully are idiots? Not that I have anything against this particular idea, but it strikes me as odd. And how can he take credit for this?!?

had this where I work for a long time (1)

dieth (951868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154520)

Core hours are 10am-4pm, if we do more than 8 hours in a day, we can even keep those in a timebank, and use a block of 4, or 8 banked hours for half or full days off.
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