ROWE is not flextime. It’s not allowing some people to work from home. It rejects labels like ‘flex worker, remote worker, teleworker’. Work location and work time are irrelevant to the conversation about … you guessed it. THE WORK.
For years, a ROWE has been confused with the flexible workplace. Flexibility assumes that there is a default location (the office) and a default time (M-F, 8am - 5pm) work should be happening. Anything different than that is ‘flexible’. In the flexible workplace, some people get flexibility, and some people don’t. Some managers dole it out, others don’t. Some roles are able to be flexible, others can’t. You get the picture.
Do you feel guilty? Do you feel Sunday night dread? Do you play the endless games associated with the industrial age institution of work? Does your boss give you permission to be ‘flexible’?
We’ll say it again. Until we’re blue in the face. ROWE is not the flexible workplace.
Let us explain.
the Results ONly Work Environment
ROWE is adaptive change.
Transitioning to a ROWE requires giving up deeply held beliefs about the way work should happen. It requires removing the punch clock from your DNA. It’s uncomfortable because it attacks everything about work and the workplace we hold to be true. Like knowing everyone’s availability. And the importance of face time. And what trust looks like. Team building. Collaboration. Goal-setting.
ROWE is an entirely differentiated platform
In a ROWE, each person is 100% accountable and 100% autonomous. Each and every person. Sales people. Receptionists. Call center associates. Bus drivers. Zookeepers. Accountants. And all of those corporate roles.
In a ROWE, no results = no job. It’s the workplace for adults. And it doesn’t discriminate. Everyone’s ‘in’ and nobody’s ‘out’.
typical Questions about ROWE
“What is a Results Only Work Environment?”
A Results-Only Work Environment is a work platform (culture) where there is an equal balance between accountability and autonomy for every person. This balance has been proven to be critical to business success and the customer/employee experience. If a culture is heavy on autonomy and light on accountability, this typically leads to a chaotic landscape where non-performance is tolerated. There is often a realization in cultures like this that goals and measures are not clear, which prohibits accountability to measurable results. If the culture is heavy on accountability and light on autonomy, business operations may be strong but at the expense of the employee experience. The heavy accountability/light autonomy leads to high frustration levels, voluntary turnover, and lack of engagement in work.
“How is this different from a "flex-time" program?”
Traditional flexibility programs are managed by managers with work, time, and location as negotiable and relevant. In a ROWE, accountability to measurable results is the only thing that is relevant and is non-negotiable.
“With this much autonomy, what about location-specific jobs? What if employees don’t show up?”
Employees are responsible for achieving their results in a ROWE. They are where they need to be, when they need to be there. Their location on any given day is a function of their agreed-upon results. Not being in the right place to achieve results ends up being a performance issue - because customers are negatively affected. In a ROWE, there are never tardiness or attendance issues… only performance issues.
“Are there recruitment advantages for ROWE organizations?”
Yes. ROWE organizations are able to quickly differentiate themselves in the marketplace by offering the opportunity for job candidates to be treated like adults and have complete autonomy in how they approach their work in exchange for complete accountability. ROWE organizations do not dictate schedules or require people to ask permission for how, when, and where they work. They require top-notch results to be achieved and that is the focus.
“What are the biggest challenges during ROWE implementation?”
The biggest challenge lies in the shift in mindset and practice from manager to Results Coach. For decades, managers have been physical and virtual hall monitors, spending their precious time and energy on conversations with employees that have little or nothing to do with results. The authoritarian structure of the workplace has conditioned managers to manage people, not work. During ROWE training, managers learn the steps they must take to move out of that conditioned arena and the behaviors they must adopt in order to focus on what’s relevant in managing performance.
“Is everyone in a ROWE? what about the people who need more supervision?”
It is up to the Results Coach and employees in a ROWE to agree upon clear, measurable results. ROWE is all about results. Period. Coaching, mentoring, and training are part of what people require to be successful in their work. If someone needs micromanaging, then they need to work somewhere else.
“Are Managers necessary in a ROWE?”
Yes! Managers become Results Coaches in a Results-Only Work Environment. They no longer manage people, or how, when, or where work happens. Results Coaches manage the work and ensure deadlines are met, budgets are on track, and customers are satisfied.
“Relationships and face-to-face communication are important in our culture and to our results. How does ROWE affect communication?”
Communication and collaboration practices become more effective in a ROWE because the work drives how communication occurs, not a tired-old orthodoxy about face time and relationships. Employees’ interactions with each other, and with customers, are focused and genuine. And people do come face-to-face in a ROWE. On their own terms.
“How will we know if the work is getting done?”
"In a ROWE, you know work is getting done because everyone is crystal clear about measurable goals and expectations. It’s up to the employee to alert their Results Coach if a deadline is at risk, or if other team challenges are compromising the attainment of results. If people don’t deliver what was agreed upon, then you’ve got a performance issue on your hands.
“Is it easy to implement a ROWE on my own?”
Seriously? No. ROWE is disruptive culture change and requires an adaptive change process in order to be successful. If you try on your own, you’ll miss critical elements of the change and change process that make a ROWE successful. Letting someone work from home is not a ROWE. Having a remote workforce is not a ROWE. Giving everyone unlimited PTO is not a ROWE. Leaving early or coming in late? Right? Not ROWE! Contact us to get it right.