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Have you heard about ROWE? I came across this during my (never ending) research on flexible working. I must say that it is things like this that show us that there’s definite promise for the future of flexible work practices and motivates us to keep going down this chosen path.

ROWE stands for Result Oriented Work Environment. It’s a management (more specifically an HR) strategy that aims to build a work culture which is based on performance and not presence. It’s all about the output – quality vs quantity.

ROWE aims to provide a relaxed, comfortable work environment – while completely eliminating the customs of a conventional office. In an ideal ROWE workplace, there are no set hours and no required meetings. Employees aren’t even required to come into the office – at all. They have total autonomy over where they work, how they work, and when they work. The only measure of value is the results they deliver. So the philosophy is, “Work whenever you want, wherever you want, as long as the work gets done.” The last part – “get the work done” is the core and thus the main focus of this approach.

As you can see ROWE is the ultimatum for flexible work. It is an attempt to test the limits of workplace flexibility and in the process, redefine them.

When implemented successfully ROWE will reap many benefits such as:

  • Happy and motivated employees
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Reduced organizational cost
  • Improved bottom line

The success of ROWE is dependent on:

  • Buy-in from leadership
  • High levels of trust between individuals
  • Experienced and committed employees
  • Use of technology and tools for collaboration
  • Everyone is focused and committed to achieving the results

Often results-only work places do produce results. Implemented successfully, ROWE will have a big impact on the organization and its employees alike.

As with anything, there is a good side and a not so good side for ROWE as well. ROWE isn’t right for every organization. The most important factor in deciding whether ROWE will work for you is knowing your business and your employees. ROWE can cause serious problems in environments where each piece of work is unique and difficult to scope out in fine detail in advance. It can also be unsuitable for new or inexperienced people, as they need immediate, regular support and guidance through face-to-face meetings. It is neither suitable for many customer service departments where employees are required to be available at predictable times to answer customer queries.

ROWE is built on the pillars of trust and accountability. Managers must trust their team members and allow them the complete freedom to get the work done and employees need to keep up their side of the bargain by being accountable to achieve their results. This kind of attitude requires a complete change in the mind-set of the current traditional work environments and that is why the implementation of ROWE can be quite challenging.

If ROWE is to succeed:

  • Recruit Professional, Conscientious People
  • Build Trust
  • Clearly, Define Job Descriptions
  • Consistently Set Clear, Measurable Goals
  • Track Performance

With proper planning, training, execution and with the right attitude ROWE can be implemented successfully and this can be seen as the ideal future of the flexible work environment. ROWE can Make It Work!

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