The Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) is not about new permissions from management about where, when, and for how long employees are allowed to work
ROWE rejects labels like
- Flex worker
- Remote worker
- Work from home
- Distributed team
Flexibility Vs. Results-Only Work Environment
Workplace flexibility dictates, "Here is where you're allowed to work from, and the expectations around when to work and for how long."
ROWE asks, “Are you clear about the measurable results you need to achieve to demonstrate success?”
Flexibility assumes that there is a default location such as a corporate or home office and a default time (M-F, 9am - 5pm) when work should be happening.
Anything different than that is labeled ‘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 cannot.
Traditional work environments cause us to:
- Feel guilty for not showing up or logging on when work is supposed to happen
- Feel the Sunday night dread
- Play the endless games associated with the industrial age institution of work
- Long for a boss or organization to give us permission to be ‘flexible’
- Wish it would all stop so that you and your team could just get your work done
There is a solution
Transitioning to ROWE requires:
Letting go of and moving past deeply held beliefs about how work is supposed to happen
Removing the time clock "mentality," and "outdated" work location beliefs from your DNA
Do any of these persistent workplace beliefs sound familiar?
Employees should spend at least some of their time in the physical office
If an employee finishes their work in less than full-time hours, they need more work
In the Results-Only Work Environment, managers manage the work, not the people - adults can manage themselves.
In a ROWE, each person is 100% accountable and 100% autonomous. Each and every person.
And all of those corporate roles? It doesn’t discriminate. Everyone’s in, and nobody’s out. The future of work is not flexible, remote, or hybrid. The future of work is accountability and autonomy. Period.
Typical Questions About ROWE
The 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 model leads to high frustration levels, voluntary turnover, and lack of engagement in work.
Traditional flexibility programs are managed by managers with work, time, and location as negotiable and relevant. In ROWE, accountability to measurable results is the only thing that is relevant and is non-negotiable.
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 issue – only performance issues.
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.
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.
ROWE is all about results. Period. It is up to the Results Coach and employees in a ROWE to agree upon clear, measurable results. 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.
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.
Communication and collaboration practices become more effective in the Results-Only Work Environment 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.
In the Results-Only Work Environment, 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.
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 process that make ROWE successful.
- Letting someone work from home is not ROWE.
- Having a remote workforce is not ROWE.
- Giving everyone unlimited PTO is not ROWE.
- A hybrid model with policies around who can work from where and when, not ROWE!