ROWE, ROWE, ROWE your company — Part 1
One of my favorite reads this summer is business book with a salty title: Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. The book is a manifesto and road map for what the authors call a Results-Only Work Environment, in which people show up to the office when they want, meetings are optional, and nobody’s watching the clock.
I was so intrigued by the book that I asked Ressler and Thompson if I could interview them for this blog. Against their better judgment, they agreed.
What follows is the first half of our e-interview:
PINK: I love this book because it’s so radical. Tell us — in your own words — exactly what Result-Only Work Environment is.RESSLER & THOMPSON: In a Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE, each person in an office environment is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Here’s what it’s like:
• Every meeting is optional. In a ROWE, you have the power to ask what the outcome of a meeting is, and what your role is, before attending so you can decide if it’s a good use of time.
• Every day feels like Saturday. You have control of every single day. No more waiting for the weekend to do your errands, your fun, your spontaneous activities.
• There’s no judgment about how you spend your time. No more comments like “10:00 and you’re just getting in? Wish I had your job!”, “Did you see Jill leave at 3:00 again to get her kid from daycare? Wish I had a kid.”
• You never need to ask permission for how, when, or where you want to work. Period. You do what you want, when you want, where you want, and if your work gets done, no one cares.
• There are no work schedules. None.
PINK: One of the things that struck me is that it makes other so-called “flexible” work arrangements seem pretty anemic.
RESSLER & THOMPSON: Right. A ROWE is not flextime, telecommuting, or a 4-day workweek. Many companies say their people can telecommute or work a flexible schedule. But these arrangements often still include core hours, or can be dissolved should business needs change, or are doled out stingily as a perk for the privileged few. In a ROWE, every single person has the same advantage about deciding how to spend their time. It’s a complete reshaping of the culture of work…bringing office employees out of the Industrial Age and into today.
PINK: So how does this get proposed in an organization — and how do managers typically react? My guess that individual workers would groove on this and that bosses would be terrified.RESSLER & THOMPSON: You got it. It’s best to find one leader that will understand how ROWE will increase productivity and improve your ability to attract and retain talent. Use the ROWE Business Case at www.culturerx.com to have your discussion. That one leader can approve a ROWE pilot for one team, and things will spread from there. Managers typically react with several “Yeah, Buts”, including:“Don’t new employees or kids just out of college need to be in the office to learn the ropes?”“People will take advantage and slack off.”“How can you ever reach anybody if they’re not in the office?”“How will we know if work is getting done if we can’t see people” Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview in the next few days.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview in the next few days.