Offering a Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE)
For many people worldwide, work never completely went back to normal after the covid-19 pandemic struck. People were suddenly thrust into a more flexible work environment. Not intentionally, but we’ve been implementing our own form of flex work since 2002.
In fact, our founder, Christine Wetzler (then, Pietryla) remembers it being kind of a joke among friends that she intended to work from home. She explains, “Most of my former colleagues thought it was temporary or I was avoiding having to work. Really, it was the opposite – I worked harder than ever – I just did it at my own pace. Once I got a smartphone, I completely ditched the idea of paying for an office forever. Even though they were expensive, giving a new hire a computer and a phone was way cheaper than paying rent.”
Without physical interaction during the pandemic, the amount of time you spent working didn’t matter; how you got the job done or with whom wasn’t entirely relevant. You worked how and when you wanted to. And as long as you finished the job, it was nobody’s business. You received your accolades for a job well done. This turned out to be an effective form of work for many, and companies worldwide adopted this work system, even after the strictness of pandemic guidelines started to ease up.
Job satisfaction increased, and like Christine, people and employers started questioning the need for traditional office spaces and meetings.
This work style has a name. It didn’t just come about to fix the issue of distance in the workplace because of a pandemic. It is called the Result Oriented Work Environment or Result Only Work Environment (ROWE), and it has existed for over a decade.
As the name implies, the result-oriented work environment judges employees based on their results and the quality of their deliverables. It focuses on each employee’s output rather than the number of hours they can sit in front of a desk or type away at their computers.
It is less concerned with the nitty-gritty of how you produce the result and much more interested in what you submit at the end of the day. It allows employees to choose what work style best fits them at that particular job.
Although ROWE is not a perfect system for every organization out there, and it might be accompanied by some drawbacks when not done right, many top companies worldwide deem the advantages to be far more significant than the disadvantages.
Most of the difficulties that might be experienced using ROWE, such as communication and management, have been contained and managed, primarily with the technology we live with now.
There is a long list of large companies that have adopted a result-oriented work environment to some degree. Those companies include IBM, Mojo Media Labs, and many others. In general, companies report significant growth in their productivity with the inclusion of the ROWE system.
ROWE encourages workers to work smarter and more effectively. They can more clearly define a goal and actively work towards achieving it with all their available resources. In carrying out their work, they tend to be happier and mentally healthier because some burden is relieved from their shoulders by working in their element and because they have a better work-life balance in general.
Not only can you point out the apparent time-saving potential this system gives you, but a cost-saving factor is also involved. Happy workers tend to do a better job. Being in control of your own time and having the ability to do other things with that time does create a more positive attitude to work.
While it isn’t compulsory to work from home, there is an evident, undebatable decline in the use of company resources on site. Many corporations save money on even the real estate part of their business, less space is needed, and offices needn’t be occupied as they would be at the typical nine to five job.
Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, the pioneers of ROWE, initially implemented it at Best Buy. The pair have co-authored some books since then about ROWE and its implementation in workplaces.
In one of their books titled Why Work Sucks & How to Fix It, they theorize, “The funny thing about work is that every day most of us go to a physical space to do virtual work.”
They talk about how work systems have already been so transformed that even in a physical workplace what we do requires a computer and the internet. Then what is the point of checking in early and retiring late each day? In the same book, they talk about the work we do being a byproduct and result of our thought process, not simply a building we go to, saying, “In a ROWE, work isn’t a place you go- it’s something you do. The work in your brain can happen no matter where your brain is. When individuals and organizations embrace this idea, it frees people up to do their best work.”
If you’re interested in implementing ROWE, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson founded CultureRx, a consulting agency focused on adequately implementing the result-only work environment. They believe in companies shifting away from managing their workers to managing their work instead. For those who have tried the ROWE management system, much praise is given to it. It is quite a revolutionary tool, and in an ever-changing and ever-evolving world, it wouldn’t be surprising for ROWE to become the new normal in the workforce.
At Pietryla PR & Marketing, we haven’t worked with Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, but ROWE is something that we identify with on a regular basis. Our team is completely remote, with the company providing the technology and tools needed to succeed, and we do have a professional office to work from when we need to be together in person.
With more and more jobs going remote and concerns raised about mental health and ensuring a healthy work environment, a more result-oriented system might be a way forward.