The 9-5 Monday to Friday work week has been the undisputed norm for over a century, but according to many that needs to, and is, changing.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the importance of understanding what motivates your team in order to maximize both workplace results and overall morale. A shift to focusing on the internal motivating factors of employees has replaced the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivation and is changing the way we work.
In today’s post, we’re looking at another concept that has been disrupting the traditional workplace structure: ROWE, or a Results Only Work Environment. This concept was introduced by authors Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson in their book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It and takes things beyond the flexi schedules and compressed work weeks that have offered some flexibility to the work week in the last few decades.
Ressler and Thompson describe ROWE as an office environment in which everyone is “free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.” Employees can skip meetings, get to the office at 10 am, run errands in the middle of the afternoon, and just generally structure their day in any way they like. The strategy gives staff complete freedom over their day.
Of course, to have this system run smoothly, clear goals and outcomes need to be defined so everyone on the team knows exactly what they’re expected to accomplish. As the authors put it, 100% autonomy + 100% accountability = results.
Much like Daniel Pink’s focus on internal motivators vs. external, ROWE seeks to improve the workplace by understanding what truly motivates and inspires people. The idea is that the traditional work week model is disempowering because it treats employees with a certain degree of distrust. Under ROWE, the employees are treated as trusted adults that will get their work done without having to be monitored or stuck in an office for a set period of time.
At Catalyst, we’ve implemented the ROWE method with great success. We’ve adopted a system that includes regular team check-ins and goal setting, so we are all clear on what is being worked on and what everyone’s role is in making it happen (we’re big fans of Asana!), and from there, our entire team is free to work on these projects on their own schedule.
While complete flexibility may not be realistic for all workplace environments, aspects of ROWE can still be implemented. Remember, the key idea is to fuse accountability and autonomy, so finding ways to provide this to your employees can apply to almost all workplace situations.
Interested in learning more about ROWE? Check out the official website here.
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