The Long, Unhappy History of Working From Home

Quora stated 60 p.c of its staff expressed a desire for distant work, consistent with nationwide surveys. In a Morning Consult survey in late May on behalf of Prudential, 54 p.c stated they needed to work remotely. In a warning signal for managers, the identical proportion of distant staff stated they felt much less related to their firm.

One very public setback for distant work was at Best Buy, the Minneapolis-based electronics retailer. The unique program, which drew nationwide consideration, started in 2004. It aimed to guage staff by what they completed, not the hours a challenge took or the situation the place it was performed.

Best Buy killed this system in 2013, saying it gave the workers an excessive amount of freedom. “Anyone who has led a team knows that delegation is not always the most effective leadership style,” the chief govt, Hubert Joly, stated on the time.

Jody Thompson, a co-founder of this system who left Best Buy in 2007 to change into a guide, stated the corporate was doing poorly and panicked. “It went back to a philosophy of ‘If I can see people, that means they must be working,’” she stated.

The coronavirus shutdown, which implies 95 p.c of Best Buy’s company campus staff are presently distant, may now be prompting one other shift in firm philosophy. “We expect to continue on a permanent basis some form of flexible work options,” a spokeswoman stated.

Flexible work offers staff extra freedom with their schedules however doesn’t essentially change how they’re managed, which was Ms. Thompson’s purpose. “This is a moment when working can change for the better,” she stated. “We need to create a different kind of work culture, where everyone is 100 percent accountable and 100 percent autonomous. Just manage the work, not the people.”

But additionally it is a second, she acknowledged, when working can change for the more severe.

“It’s a crazy time,” Ms. Thompson stated. “When you’re a manager, there is a temptation to manage someone harder if you can’t see them. There’s an increase in managers looking at spyware.”

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