An authentic ROWE is, in its essence, a contemporary work culture built on the foundation that we hire people for clear, measurable results. It’s why they have jobs. Just “putting in time” doesn’t cut it in a ROWE. Filling time doesn’t cut it. Measuring time doesn’t cut it. Showing up to the office doesn’t cut it. Time really has no relevance unless it’s used to manage deadlines, due dates, deliverables and such – the work. If a functional or client meeting starts at 1:00pm, then 1:00pm has relevance. But if I’m coming into the office at 8:15am instead of 8:00am and am producing results and not missing anything that is time sensitive, then 8:15am has no relevance whatsoever. In a ROWE, each person is 100% autonomous and 100% accountable to measurable results.
Flexible work programs have simply reinforced the notion that time has relevance. And a ROWE is not a flexible work program; in fact, comparing it to one is ludicrous because they are as different as night and day. Just by definition, if a person is going to be flexible, they need to be flexible around something, and that something is office hours and the physical office. ‘I’m working from home tomorrow (i.e., teleworking)” says I should be in the office (default), but I’m going to be at home (flexible). ‘I work four-10 hour days with Friday’s off’ says I should be in the office on Fridays like everyone else (default) but I’m putting in my time in four days instead of five (flexible). ‘My hours are Monday through Thursday from 7:30am – 4:30pm and Fridays from 8am – 4pm says normal office hours are 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday (default) but I have my own personal schedule that’s different (flexible).
Of course we understand why people think they want flexibility. And we don’t blame them. They just want some control over their lives -- no matter how little. They feel a tiny bit of flexibility takes them to a happy place where work and life live in harmony. But then they find out that what they thought was a wonderful accommodation was really a whole new level of management control and co-worker judgment.
Let’s face it. Flexible Work Programs give managers more control over people’s time - they do not give people more control over their time.
Flexibility is so last century.