The company is targeting May when it will relocate from its current 140,000-square-foot head office space in Burnaby to a new 70,000-square-foot space in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver.
The new office space will be used for intentional connection, collaboration, to inspire cross-functional innovation and serve as a space for those who want/need the option to work in an office.
Carol Graziani, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Best Buy, who also wears a hat for employee experience and the corporate environment, said prior to the pandemic the retailer had about 1,200 people assigned to the corporate headquarters.
“Pre-pandemic we all worked on site all of the time. We all worked five days in the office. That was our structure. Before the pandemic we were moving to a semi-remote structure where we were going to do what we call work away and give people the opportunity to work remotely two days a week,” she said.
“We were going to launch that in April of 2020. Then the world changed and we went to 100 per cent corporate employees working remotely. So the fortunate piece was we already had the infrastructure and the technology in place to facilitate remote work two days a week and we just pivoted because when the lockdown happened we closed our office.
“We tried a couple of times to bring people back on site but the health mandates kept shifting so we really stayed almost fully remote for the entire two-year period.”
Graziani said when the company designed the new office and looked to the future it did so with the intention of no longer requiring employees to be on site for a routine schedule. Only about 30 people have to be on site five days a week in the areas of shipping and receiving, IT services or security.
“But the vast majority of our employees are basically on site when they want to be here or when their leaders deem it’s an advantage to come together,” she said.
“This differs a little from what you hear about hybrid. In the hybrid model, companies say you have to be on site two to three days a week. We’re basically saying we’re not requiring you to come on site any number of days a week. It’s your choice. You can be flexible. And when leaders say you know what we want to have a town hall, we want to do some team building, then people will come. Really flexible.”
A survey of employees found that 96 per cent of respondents felt they were able to do their jobs as effectively if not more effectively working remotely than when they were in the office full time. Over 50 per cent said they only wanted to come to the office when specifically required, as opposed to on a regular basis or required number of days per week of month. An additional 25 per cent saw themselves coming to the office (post COVID) between one and five times a month.
The top three reasons that employees would come to the office were: Events like large team sessions, strategy sessions or town halls; To connect with others (face to face /team building); and To work on a complex project that required face to face collaboration.
“We’re a technology company so we embrace technology quite readily and so learning how to use technology and being able to pivot into that environment, I think that’s kind of in our DNA. It’s what we do because we’re Best Buy,” said Graziani.
“We had been experimenting with different work models over the last five years. So for example an agile work process. Our employees are quite adaptive and I think our workforce also tends to be skewed to a younger demographic who are quite open to exploring new ways of working. I don’t know if that makes it easier for us or not but again because we are a technology-focused company, embracing new ways of doing things is kind of what we do.
“This gives people choice and I think choice and empowerment are really important to employees in today’s workforce.”
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