Here's an article about how Best Buy implemented its results-only work environment (ROWE), and it makes for interesting reading despite being a bit too early to judge the results enterprise-wide. It appears that some organizations within the company are thriving -- and I'm optimistic that this approach will spread -- but let's see ROWE perform for a few years before we cheer too loudly.

Best Buy did not invent the post-geographic office. Tech companies have been going bedouin for several years. At IBM (IBM ), 40% of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers are untethered. Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW ) calculates that it's saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want. And this trend seems to have legs. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that 85% of executives expect a big rise in the number of unleashed workers over the next five years. In fact, at many companies the most innovative new product may be the structure of the workplace itself.

But arguably no big business has smashed the clock quite so resolutely as Best Buy. 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 (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. 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 seems to me (having never worked retail) that salesmen working on commission would be an ideal environment for ROWE. If salesmen make money by selling, they'll arrange their hours and schedules to maximize their income. That selfishness should result in optimal allocation of salesmen across the work-week, and if the current employees aren't covering the required time then the company could simply hire more. What's more, if a salesman finds a way to sell products without being in the store at all then everyone wins!

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