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Best Buy ends trailblazing work-at-home program

The electronics retailer nixes its flex-work policy, a week after Yahoo ended its program, as it struggles to turn business around.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Best Buy, seen as a trailblazer for its progressive telecommuting policy, is now putting limits on the ability of its non-store staff to work from home.

Just a week after Yahoo told its workers that they could no longer work from home, Best Buy ended its Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) program, which allowed employees to set their own hours and work from anywhere as long as they got the job done. Telecommuting is not completely ruled out as an option for the company's 4,000 non-store employees, but workers will need to seek managerial approval first.

The change comes as Best Buy has been trying to cut costs while dealing with sluggish sales. Company executives decided the telecommuting policy was out of step with the challenges it faces.

"When you're in a turnaround situation, it truly is all hands on deck," said Best Buy spokesman Matt Furman. "It is critical to have employees in the office to collaborate and communicate."

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis first reported on the policy change.

Like Best Buy, Yahoo has been struggling financially. Its telecommuting shift sparked much discussion about the merits of working from home.

Furman said that Best Buy's decision was not at all related to Yahoo's move. He said Best Buy first broached the subject with employees a month ago.