Demolishing the presenteeism myth

Dec 07 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Work should be something we do. Yet to an overwhelming extent, it has become somewhere we go, leading to the pervasive belief that productivity is somehow linked to presence.

So to hear a major-league U.S. CEO whose has spent their entire career adhering to the "presenteeism" model admit: "for years I had been focused on the wrong currency. I was always looking to see if people were here. I should have been looking at what they were getting done" comes as something of a bombshell.

As BusinessWeek explores in an illuminating cover story, arguably no big business has smashed the clock quite so resolutely as U.S. retail giant, Best Buy.

Best Buy's initiative, called ROWE (results-only work environment), seeks to demolish the assembly-line dogma that equates physical presence with productivity.

There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

What seems particularly astonishing is that all this was put in place unofficially over the course of more than two years and grew virally without anybody telling the CEO what was going on.

But the results have been so impressive- productivity has risen an average 35 per cent in departments that have switched to ROWE Ė that Best Buy has even set up a subsidiary company, CultureRx, to help other companies go clockless.

The start of a revolution? Lets hope so.

Business Week | Smashing the Clock