New Business Concepts (How to Implement a ROWE)

If you like keeping up with new business concepts, I have one for you: the ROWE.

I’ve talked about the idea of a Results Only Work Environment before, but the latest book by Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson (Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It) is the handbook for organizations and managers looking to put it into place.

why managing sucksLet me start by saying that if I could flip a switch and turn my employer into a ROWE, I would do it. In essence, a ROWE means that staff work when they want, where they want, and as long as they are getting the results, the rest doesn’t really matter.

The issue is that I work for a government contractor, and we are required to track each hour worked for every employee (exempt or non) for billing purposes. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m betting the government isn’t about to change the way they do business to align with greater efficiency and effectiveness based on their track record.

The Appeal of a ROWE

Here’s why I love a ROWE. Managers can’t just come to you and say, “Bob isn’t putting in the hours.” They have to come to you and say, “Bob is not achieving the results we agreed upon.” As an HR pro, in which of those situations would you feel most comfortable backing up the manager? Yeah, definitely the second.

It forces managers, employees, and business leaders to ensure that people actually know what they are supposed to be achieving. That’s what really matters. And that, my friends, is a very refreshing thought.

Check out the video below where I talk more about the book. I highly recommend it!

Click here to check out other book reviews.

7 thoughts on “New Business Concepts (How to Implement a ROWE)

  1. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your post on ROWE. I have been working in high tech for the past 20 years where ROWE was implemented. Now Yahoo has taken the controversial step of rescinding their existing ROWE policy in favor of a “all hands on deck” style in which organizational improvement and better collaboration trumps employee convenience. When you say that managers should gauge whether an individual’s work gets done as opposed to where it is performed, is that measure sufficient enough. Should managers not silo the discussion into an individual’s work but say that, in addition to individual assignments, a certain department is also expected to innovate based on face-to-face team interaction? Do we need to evolve ROWE so that it can also include tea interaction on a regular basis? If so, how can you create happenstance discussions without “all hands on deck” in the office?

  2. Ben,
    Great post, as always. I think that your post is interesting when contrasted against the ways the work-at-home environment at Yahoo is changing. It seems like Marissa Mayer of Yahoo is talking more about hours at work and not as much about the results.

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  4. Hi

    Ben,

    I thank you for all your posts ,
    though i accept and understand the importance of ROWE
    and if we are really talking about results then due to the stress caused by work pressure in modern organizations employees are unable to produce good results so, employees must be free to communicate their stress with management and figure out the solution for their stress and common solution is regular breaks for games or stress releasing exercises which must be implemented by organizations consistently this not only helps employees to work efficiently but also improves results of the organizations .
    I know its importance as i had already worked in an organization under a lot of pressure and wrote this for betterment of both employee as well as organization.

  5. Ben:
    ROWE is a great concept, but it has two problems. First is managers don’t know how to manage it, so you see things like Yahoo and Best Buy occur. Second is, you are correct, the government won’t get away from us requiring time recording, not just in government contractors but for nonexempt employees anywhere. So if you have nonexempt employees you can never have ROWE. If you then institute it for your exempt then you are dividing your company into two teams. That causes problems.

  6. Hey, Mike! Totally agree. If you haven’t seen the sequel to the Why Work Sucks book that launched the ROWE movement, the Why Managing Sucks book offers answers to both of those questions.

    It’s a training tool for managers, and it also gives some good tips for how to handle the nonexempt staff. One good recommendation is for NE staff to track time (as required by DOL) and any hours left between the hours worked and 40 in a week can be charged to a special “ROWE” account for their time. That way their pay is not impacted by working fewer hours. Agree on the government keeping it from being a possibility for many of our companies, though!

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