Best Buy Canada Ltd. is making its remote working model permanent for its 1,200 corporate office workers.
Corporate employees began working remotely in the third week of March 2020 after the company reported its first positive case of the coronavirus at its Vancouver-based headquarters. Workers adjusted quickly as videoconferencing became the new normal, says Chris Taylor, chief human resources officer at Best Buy, noting the company has learned most of its corporate employees’ work is task-based and can be done from home.
The shift to remote working hasn’t resulted in a lag in employee productivity, he says, adding productivity has actually increased as some employees have gained up to two hours in their workdays with the lack of commute. As well, he says Best Buy’s profitability and sales results data shows employees have been more productive than ever during the last two years.
A recent pulse survey revealed a majority (96 per cent) of the company’s corporate employees feel they’re able to do their jobs as effectively — if not more effectively — working from home than when they were in the office full time. More than half of these workers also said they only want to come to the office when specifically required, as opposed to on a regular basis or for a required number of days per week. Additionally, a quarter (25 per cent) saw themselves coming to the office between one and five times a month once the public health crisis recedes.
The company is also set to open a new, smaller office in downtown Vancouver, says Taylor, noting it will run as a shared space where employees can use a mobile app to book a cube, an office, a small collaboration space or a meeting room. However, he says there’s some concern about losing social connection in the workplace, so Best Buy also plans to bring employees together on a somewhat regular basis in event-style meetings to strengthen bonds between co-workers.
With the new remote working approach, the organization is shifting focus to ensure company leaders have the mechanisms to reach all employees — in-person or remotely — equally. Taylor says the next evolution will be ensuring remote workers’ experiences are as good and productive as those who are sitting in the room, adding the organization wants to ensure no one is left behind in terms of promotions and how projects and opportunities are assigned between both groups of staff.
The approach is also boosting Best Buy’s attraction and retention efforts, he says, noting many candidates are looking for jobs that allow for remote working and if employers aren’t flexible or open to remote work, they’re going to miss out.