The cover article in this week’s issue of BusinessWeek(“Smashing the Clock
Anne Tergesen

The cover article in this week’s issue of BusinessWeek(“Smashing the Clock") profiles an idea that could be a dream come true for many working parents. Retailer Best Buy is rolling-out a radical new plan that allows employees to come and go as they please. The company is doing away with mandatory meetings and 9 a.m. attendance checks. Employees are free to work any time, any where. (One is on the road with singer Dave Matthews).

The only catch: They must get their work done.

The rap on such a plan, of course, is that it might enable slackers or—worse—lead to “longer hours and destroy forever the demarcation between work and personal time,” to quote the article. But Best Buy reports that its radical initiative seems to be paying off. Turnover is down, employee satisfaction is up, and productivity has jumped an average of 35% in departments that have adopted this revolutionary strategy.

I have to admit, I was more than a little skeptical. But the day after I read the article, I had an experience that changed my mind. The day started out badly: My four-year-old son woke up with a stomach bug. This being a Friday, I wasn’t heading to work. (Thanks to my part-time schedule, I am home with my children on Wednesdays and Fridays.) But rather than have the morning to myself--to run errands, get some exercise, and catch up on work-related reading--I resigned myself to a few hours of floor puzzles and picture books. Before I could crack open “Curious George,” though, my son fell asleep. I tip-toed to my computer. For the next three and a half hours, I churned out something I’d been trying, unsuccessfully, to do all week at the office. By the time my son woke up at 12:30, we were both smiling. He was feeling better. And I had miraculously managed to complete this long-deferred project—and in about half the time I had expected it to take.

If that’s what uninterrupted time at home will do for productivity, I’m all for it. Once my youngest is in school long enough to guarantee me a four hour stretch of time in which to work, I'll hope to work at home more often.