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We Asked, You Answered: “Would a Results-Only Environment Work at Your Company?”

June 2nd, 2010 Comments off

Workplace Flexibility — It’s Not a Trend

More and more businesses are talking about the importance of workplace flexibility in today’s society – and the White House even dedicated a recent forum solely to the topic. As the forum stressed, we need a 21st century workplace to meet the demands of a 21st century work force. A report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors found that more flexibility in the workplace leads to happier employees, more family time, and higher employee retention and productivity – as well as more competitive and profitable workplaces.

One of the more interesting discussions in The Hiring Site’s contest history recently unfolded around the very idea of workplace flexibility, as we asked all of you the following question for our May contest (and gave away some cool stuff — congrats to our winners!):

“Do you think a results-only work environment would work at your company? Why or why not?”

You were all more than a bit divided on the subject; opinions ranged from “This would NOT be a good environment at ANY company!” to “Yes! Thinking outside the box is what keeps America growing.” I’ve rounded up some of the highlights below (you can read the full list of comments here).

“I think ROWE is a fantastic way of boosting employee morale and engagement, and it can be used as a “perk” for some employees (it works for me!)” –PJ

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“It’s a good concept for companies without strict production deadlines.” –Donna

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“I think that the staff on my team would enjoy this freedom. I even believe some of them may produce the results in order to have the freedom. I do also believe that I need some one here 8-5 to take care of clients who have that expectation of us. It’s a great concept, but I’m not sure how I can make the logistics work in my 5 man team.” –Stacy

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“While I think this would be a great concept in several work environments; the concept would not work in our setting; we are in the business of providing 24/7 care to our patients. The level of staffing that is needed depends on the number of patient we have to take care and the level of the care that each patient requires.” –Lara

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“I think the best part of a ROWE would be the work life balance that it creates. As a working mom I can imagine how helpful and ideal a ROWE would be.” –Bernadette

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“In the field of corrections, this is not possible. You cannot monitor an inmate population from the grocery store. There is also no quantitative way to measure remote job performance… Most people are not able to handle the organizational issues and self-motivating actions this would require.” –KCI

“We treat all our colleagues as adults and they all manage their own time. We have no handbook. We have no time clock. All but one of our people work from a home office or on client sites. We do not track how much time is spent in either place (except for billing purposes.) Our turnover is basically zero in the last several years – not just in HR District Office, but in Higbee Associates as a whole.” –Lynn

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“I love the concept! Unfortunately, I don’t think it would work in our business, which is retail. We might be able to use it for back-office/administrative functions, but I believe there has to be some face time in order to foster teamwork.” –Lise

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“On the surface this appears to be a creative way to bridge the gap between generations and work place expectations.” –Kim

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“It is pretty hard to mentor someone that is not around on a consistent basis. This will undermine the relationship and make it harder to give feedback.” –Denise

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“Working set amounts of hours is really not about results, but about doing something because it is supposed to be done this way. If people could be more tied to the outcome of their work then more people would be happier with their careers. Its a great idea whose time may come down the road.” –Noelle

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“It sounds fantastic and I would love to be able to do it! But, I think that we (Americans) are used to a certain mindset in the workplace and that is the harder (usually more hours) you work the better employee you are. It would be hard to change that mindset in all of your employees and this could in turn create some resentment.” –Jen

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“Unfortunately adopting such a paradigm shift in culture would possibly cripple an organization who still follows workflows and corporate driven goal setting they built decades ago. Many newcomers are all for it and working smarter is. Not looked at as valuable as sitting at your desk looking busy from 9-5. Anyone else’s company still in a time warp?” –Steve

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“The flexibility to manage your time as you need would create less stress in a job and in life. In turn this makes you more productive. More productive means more money, and money is always the bottom line.” –Brad

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“The ROWE concept is a great one but measures would have to be in place to ensure excellent service. Customers want/need (pay) to have access to their vendors so making sure the correct results are delivered would be a challenge. It really requires drilling down to the specific results the organization wants to achieve and being able to understand what your customers want/need/are willing to accept. Companies would also need to have technology and communication (practices) infrastructures that would support the diversity of schedules and patterns brought on by this approach.” –Charles

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“I think more companies need to expand their thinking and rewards structure, sometimes money isn’t really the bottom line and quality of life is much more appealing.” –Gytahnna

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Your Biggest Concerns

From what I gathered in your comments, many of the concerns or challenges you expressed in your comments regarding ROWE boil down to physical presence and time elements — the need for employees to be physically in the office and during certain times, whether for meetings, teamwork building, customers, last-minute projects, ongoing deadlines, the ability to mentor, the desire to keep an eye on employees’ progress, or something else. The founders of ROWE have detailed answers to many of the same questions and concerns you have all expressed — you can determine whether or not their answers satisfy you.

ROWE — Who’s Doing It?

Some of you also asked at which companies ROWE was currently in place. Companies like Best Buy, Gap Outlet, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council, and Fairview Health Services’ (their IT department) have adapted a results-only work environment. You can read about one employee’s ROWE experience here.

And as for the concern that with ROWE, employees won’t show up for meetings, answer calls, or meet deadlines, Eric Severson, VP of HR for Gap Inc., says, “That just doesn’t happen. People need feedback on projects and will come to meetings to get sign-offs. Some people still work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and that’s fine. ROWE is your choice.”

ROWE or not, workplaces are constantly changing — and we enjoy discussing those changes with you. Any additional thoughts about ROWE?

Give Us Your Thoughts for Your Chance to Win Breakfast for Your Team, Three Months of Coffee and More!

May 14th, 2010 Comments off

Team BreakfastBe the hero and surprise your team with three months of breakfast treats from Wolferman’s, or singlehandedly caffeinate your employees for all of Q3 2010 with a 3-month Dunkin’ Donuts coffee subscription. And even if you don’t win either of those, you have a chance to win your own copy of “Why Works Sucks and How to Fix It.”

Entering is Easy:

Simply answer the question, “Do you think a results-only work environment would work at your company? Why or why not?” in the comments below — and you’ll automatically be entered to win!

What’s ROWE all about? Read on to find out — and then enter to win for your chance at free swag!

What’s ROWE?

At a SXSW Interactive panel this past March, I listened to the founders of the ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) movement, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, speak. After hearing more about ROWE and the well-known companies who had successfully adapted a results-only work environment, I was intrigued — and like many others, I had a lot of questions.

The concept of ROWE is, at its face, simple. People should have control of their own time — not the companies for which they work. In a results-only environment, the only thing that matters is results – not how many hours you’re at the office.

  • As an employee, you own your time 24/7.
  • Unlimited PTO as long as the work gets done.
  • Go to the grocery store on a Tuesday at 10 a.m. if you need to.
  • No more mandatory meetings.
  • No more permission-granting from your employer, but instead, performance guiding.
  • Employees are trusted with their time.

As Ressler and Thompson say, “Work isn’t a place you go — it’s a thing you do.” They are quick to stress that ROWE is not the same as flex time, telecommuting, job sharing, or employees to work from home a couple of days per week — those options, they say, are not enough.

From www.gorowe.com:

In a results-only company or department, employees can do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.  You make the decisions about what you do and where you do it, every minute of every day.

Here’s a video explaining ROWE, featuring employers who have adapted it:

The CEO of Girl Scouts of San Gorgonia Council, who pioneered ROWE for the organization when she came on board as CEO, recently wrote an article about her take on ROWE and workplace flexibility.

The Benefits?

According to stats on Ressler and Thompson’s website:

  • ROWE teams report an average increase of 35% in productivity by eliminating waste from systems and processes, which increases employee capacity.
  • ROWE teams also experience up to a 90% decrease in voluntary turnover rates.

Other benefits:

  • Talent retention and attraction — Ressler and Thompson argue that companies in a results-only environment have a competitive advantage, as many candidates willing to be paid less money and have more freedom rather than work in a company with a traditional structure and more money.
  • Optimization of space — Employees are working remotely much of the time.
  • Elimination of wasteful processes — Employees will not be wasting a company’s time, money, and resources.

Challenges?

This may all sound too good to be true — so in our follow-up post, we’ll address some of the challenges companies who choose this route face, as well as some of your proposed challenges.

As employees of companies of all sizes (or as candidates looking for your next job), we at The Hiring Site want to get your thoughts. If nothing else, with work/life lines blurring more and more and more workers demanding (or at least requesting) flexibility and freedom in the workplace, it’s an interesting concept to start discussing.

How to Enter:
Simply answer this question in the comments below: “Do you think a results-only work environment would work at your company? Why or why not?”

Once you submit your answer, you’ll automatically be entered to win.

What Can you Win?

  • One of you will win a 3-month breakfast club subscription for your team
  • Two of you will win a 3-month Dunkin’ Donuts coffee subscription (that’s 2 lbs./month of regular or decaf, whole bean or ground, however you want it!)
  • Four of you will win a copy of “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It” by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.


Contest Details:
Entries will be accepted from 12:00 a.m. CST on Monday, May 17, 2010 until 11:59 p.m. CST on Friday, May 21, 2010.  Each account may only submit one answer for consideration; subsequent entries will not be considered. Spam responses will not be considered. The winner will be picked at random and notified via e-mail the week of May 24, 2010. Please read the full list of official contest rules and regulations.

Just answer this question: “Do you think a results-only work environment would work at your company? Why or why not?”

Want to hear more about ROWE? Listen to Ressler and Thompson on NPR, in a three-part story about result-only work environments.