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Despite all the challenges, employees who have already made the switch say the benefits of "ROWE-ing," as they call it, are profound. Tobias says she has stopped avoiding her children. "I was getting up in the morning, rushing to get out of the door before my kids were awake," she says. If her children, ages 4 and 2, saw her, they would beg her to stay for breakfast. Now, because her quarterly goals are very clearly spelled out, she knows exactly what she has to finish in a given week--negotiate a rental-car contract or audit expense reports, for example. She can decide how and when to do it. If she wants to have a leisurely breakfast, she will. "My kids have stopped saying every morning, 'Mommy, I don't want you to go to work,'" she says. It isn't perfect. "The family doesn't always win," she says. But the family doesn't always lose either. "I don't feel guilty anymore."
Janssen, for her part, had considered leaving when she was pregnant. "Now, it's not even an issue," she says. As for Blesener, the retail supervisor, he went to his first parent-teacher conference, a task that had always fallen to his wife, a stay-at-home mother to their two sons. Joe Pagano, 55, a vice president who works in merchandising, looks back in sadness at all the sacrifices he made. While his wife stayed at home with their son and daughter, "I basically worked every Saturday, and some Sundays," he says. "It's one of the biggest regrets of my life." After his department switched to the new system, he started taking an afternoon here and there to play golf. He went to Special Persons Day at his grandson's school. If things had been different, "I probably would have been a better father and husband, and a better manager," he says. "I'm doing this so other people do not do what I did wrong."
Ultimately, for Best Buy, the new approach to work is about staying competitive, not just helping its employees. Like many other companies facing global competition, Best Buy expects more training, more initiative, more creativity from all its employees. The company doesn't guarantee job security: it laid off or outsourced 895 people last year at its headquarters. But management has realized that it can't expect so much from its employees without giving something in return. "We can embrace that reality and ride it, or we can try to fight it," says Shari Ballard, an executive vice president. Best Buy has decided to take the bumpy ride. •