Imagine a work model that gives you the freedom to work wherever you want, whenever you want. A model that focuses on the end result, as opposed to the number of hours invested.
Referred to as the Results-Only Work Environment (also known as ROWE), this way of working is beginning to replace the 9-to-5, as more and more employers are realizing that it can increase productivity and happiness, while lowering workforce costs—a win-win for both employers and employees.
Many companies that have implemented the ROWE have already begun to see results. Veronica Wooten, president and COO of a company that has adopted the ROWE, stated that since the ROWE work model was adopted, “Our employee count has decreased 20%, and our customer base increased 20%.” She found that there are also 50% fewer meetings and expenses decreased 12%.
Here is why we think that every company should follow suit.
Time Is Given Value
As The New York Times so eloquently puts it, “Time is the most perishable good in the world, and it is not replenishable…Nonetheless, we usually have a vague feeling that there is plenty of time—somewhere in the future—so we waste it now and carelessly steal time from our families, friends or ourselves when we come up short at the end of a workday and need to stay an extra hour.”
Time is indeed the most precious resource we have—and so why is it often the most undervalued?
The beauty of the ROWE is that it respects employees’ time and independence. Since value is placed on the outcome, as opposed to the journey, people are given the freedom to allocate their time as they choose, resulting in less time wasted and increased productivity during the hours worked.
Accomplishing More (or the Same) in Less Time
The U.S. is known for being a particularly overworked nation, despite the fact that it’s been proven that increased hours do not necessarily increase productivity—and often do just the opposite. It’s like the Law of Diminishing Returns—at a certain point, working more hours is actually going to decrease productivity.
Take a look at Sweden. In this forward-thinking country, many companies have adopted a six-hour workday. As a result, they found that employees are happier, the quality of work is improved and there are fewer sick days compared to the eight-hour workday.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, found that the results of those who put in 80 hours were no different than the results of those who worked 40 hours. Moreover, even if employees were less productive working 80 hour-weeks, they were given more credit by their employers (and were more likely to be promoted) than those who put in much fewer hours while producing similar results.
The ROWE, which many believe to be the future, has a different way of viewing and measuring success in the work environment. In the ROWE, managers don’t care if their employees put in 80 hours, 40 hours or 20 hours a week—they simply care about the results.
Fewer (and Shorter) Meetings
As The New York Times explains, at many traditional companies, meetings tend to drag on, with nothing even getting accomplished in the end. The mentality seems to be: If employees are in the office for at least eight hours a day, and everyone is together, what is the harm in yet another meeting?
In contrast, when employees work remotely, on a variety of different schedules and time zones (which is generally the case with the ROWE), employers are forced to think about whether or not holding a meeting is truly necessary. As a result, teams are likely to accomplish more in meetings, in a shorter amount of time.
Potential Hurdles to Overcome
Everyone’s work style is different. Some people work best in the morning; others hit peak productivity at night. Some workers thrive in an office environment, while others are completely miserable clocking in and out every day. The ROWE gives employees the freedom and flexibility to choose their own hours and the type of work environment that maximizes their productivity, wherever or whenever that may be.
While the ROWE gives employees unparalleled flexibility, this doesn’t mean that all forms of structure should be abolished. Abiding by some sort of schedule is still very important, if not even more so than it is in the traditional workplace. It’s crucial that employees find a way to manage their time effectively, since the ROWE is dependent on employees exercising self-discipline.
Adapting to a ROWE can also be a challenging adjustment on the managerial side, as it requires managers to relinquish control and put more trust in employees, which can be difficult for those who are used to micromanaging. Once this is achieved, however, employees feel liberated and empowered.
The Future of Work
As Jody Thompson, one of the founders of the ROWE, noted, “There are organizations all over the world now that are understanding that the future is not about the workplace, but creating a workforce. It’s not about managing people, but managing work.”
The result? Say goodbye to wasted hours and unproductive, discontent employees. And say hello to greater efficiency, more freedom, and most importantly—happiness.
Note: Since this post is published on the SUCCESS agency Digital Insider blog, we thought we’d share further context as it relates to SUCCESS agency and ROWE. We believe strongly in the principles of a Results-Only Working Environment. Currently our agency does not operate as a true ROWE as we still track time and our staff tends to work a set number of hours per day. Keeping track of hours is inherent in our industry as an agency and, while we may be able to get to a true ROWE someday, we’re not there yet. That said, we embrace the principles of ROWE (such as being able to work from anywhere) and strive to incorporate them into our agency.