Have you heard of ROWE? It stands for Results Only Work Environment. It’s a program that revolutionised the traditional workplace, throwing out the idea that a job can only be done between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.
ROWE crushes the clock. Employees aren’t paid for the number of hours they work. Instead, they’re paid based on the work they produce. ROWE has been transformational for some organisations, in others, not so much. Here’s how a results-only environment works, the pros and cons and if ROWE is right for your organisation.
What is ROWE?
“Work isn’t a place you go, it’s something you do” – Why Work Sucks And How To Fix It – Cali Ressler and Jordy Thompson
ROWE creators Cali Ressler and Jordy Thompson introduced the concept to US online retail giant Best Buy in 2006 where they were HR managers at the time. Their goal was to turn corporate dogma that equates physical presence with productivity on its head.
The idea of ROWE is that employees are given total autonomy on how they work to get the job done. They can work whenever they like and are measured entirely on the results they deliver, not whether or not they clock up 8 hours a day in the office.
It doesn’t matter to a manager if an employee puts in 80 hours, 40 hours or 20 hours a week—they only care about the results.
Employees can choose to work wherever they like too. A coffee shop, home office or a hotel room in Bali. Workplace performance conversations are frequent, not tied in with an annual review process and accountability is expected and rewarded.
Essentially, ROWE is a salary-for-service employment model. If the work gets done, the employee gets paid, if it doesn’t, they’re shown the door.
Does ROWE actually work?
Flexibility is one of the biggest perks offered by the companies Australians most want to work for. You could call ROWE the ultimate in workplace flexibility and a great way for employers to attract and retain top talent without salary bidding wars or expensive benefits packages.
Implementing ROWE, some organisations have seen results including cost savings, financial gains, increased productivity and improved employee morale and health.
Will a Results Oriented Workplace Environment Work For You?
Could a results-only model work for your organisation? It’s a huge shift away from the traditional working environment and one that should be considered very carefully. We’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of some of the pros and cons of ROWE as a starting point to explore the suitability of this model.
Pros of a workforce without a clock:
- Results oriented workplaces require less office space because fewer people are spending time there. Cutting office space costs is a big plus for startups running on a slim budget.
- Organisations that have effectively implemented ROWE show an increase in productivity.
- Employees are happier, healthier and empowered which leads to decreased employee turnover.
- Employers create a working environment that attracts top talent.
- Less sick days and time off because employees have the autonomy to work around their personal appointments, family commitments, and illnesses.
Research has analysed the different types of sectors ROWE could be applied to, including retail, education and financial sectors. While a results-oriented workplace can work in many industries, it will be most successful where jobs have the following characteristics.
- Individual nature of work;
- Activities of thinking and intellectual nature;
- Innovative and research activities;
- Knowledge-oriented activities;
- Self-driven and self-motivated employees
Cons of a workplace without a clock
- Management roles in results-only workplaces can be more challenging as it’s difficult to communicate with off-site employees on varying schedules.
- Less organic synergy and collaboration. Ideas are sparked and built between peers and sometimes this happens in a casual way; a conversation in the break room or elevator.
- ROWE opens up the potential for unethical behaviour, like the infamous employee who outsourced his entire job to a coding team in China.
- A results-only approach won’t be successful for employees who struggle with self-discipline and self-motivation.
- Employees may feel lonely and disconnected from their teams.
- ROWE can’t be implemented in physical retail stores.
Case studies show that results-only work places, when executed properly, can produce impressive results in productivity and employee satisfaction. The bottom line though, ROWE won’t be the ideal fit for all organisations, you need to know your business and team really well to know if it will work for you.
Have you ever worked in a results-only workplace?
Considering the leap to a results-based workplace? Our program Productivity and Results introduces participants to how results-based working changes culture and helps organisations stay nimble. We equip your team with methods on using resources, delegating and outsourcing to ‘get the job done’ and be successful in a results-based workplace.