The Long, Unhappy History of Working From Home

Quora mentioned 60 p.c of its staff expressed a choice for distant work, in step with nationwide surveys. In a Morning Consult survey in late May on behalf of Prudential, 54 p.c mentioned they needed to work remotely. In a warning signal for managers, the identical proportion of distant staff mentioned 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 achieved, not the hours a venture took or the placement the place it was carried out.

Best Buy killed this system in 2013, saying it gave the staff 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, mentioned on the time.

Jody Thompson, a co-founder of this system who left Best Buy in 2007 to develop into a advisor, mentioned 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 mentioned.

The coronavirus shutdown, which suggests 95 p.c of Best Buy’s company campus staff are at the moment 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 mentioned.

Flexible work provides staff extra freedom with their schedules however doesn’t essentially change how they’re managed, which was Ms. Thompson’s objective. “This is a moment when working can change for the better,” she mentioned. “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 it’s also a second, she acknowledged, when working can change for the more severe.

“It’s a crazy time,” Ms. Thompson mentioned. “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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