Sunday, June 24, 2007

No Set Hours

My friend S works for one of Best Buy's competitors and the best perk of her job is unlimited vacation time. As long as you fulfill your annual goals and objectives mutually agreed upon by you and your supervisor, you can take as much time off as you like. I asked her incredulously "You mean there is no limit ?" and she clarified "There is no limit".

It turns out that the some people are able to take as much as two months of vacation without hurting their growth prospects while others can barely eke out a week. S is somewhere in between and absolutely loves it. She challenges herself to work harder and smarter all the time so she is able to enjoy more time off with her family. A win-win situation for both employee and company.

Sounds like Best Buy is doing something quite similar and hopefully the movement with turn viral and spread through all of corporate America. I have worked remotely and picked my own hours in the past. The advantages are obvious but there are some downsides too. The demarcation between work and home gets blurry. As long as you have access to the internet and phone you are never fully free.

Then the mantra of results-only work though appealing at first glance is not easily achievable. Face time is needed to build relationships that will be needed in a crisis when a cross functional team must be pulled together to resolve issues expeditiously. Individuals have different work styles and productivity patterns. Unless you are an individual contributor with no external dependencies you can only produce results only as fast as the slowest moving part in your organization.

It becomes necessary therefore, to scout for a WiFi connection while vacationing in the mountains just to make sure everything continues to be in motion while you are out so you don't have to work extra to make up for your absence. Even after factoring all the negatives, I love the freedom to work when I want to for as long as I want to. There is a lot to be said for not being corralled in a cubicle farm for forty plus hours every week for years.

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