Results Oriented Work Environments: The Way of the Future?

In some ways there is nothing new about the Results Oriented Work Environment (or ROWE).  High performing managers and firms have rewarded people for their output and results for a long time now.  That being said, ROWE marks a conscious effort to research and advocate for a different type of workplace arrangement.

What is ROWE? 

 ROWE is a human resource strategy that is based on output rather than hours.  It focuses on results and disregards the counting of minutes, lunch hours, and emails answered.  ROWE has one central objective: get your job done.  Want to take a few days off?  Do it.  Need to work 65 hours this week to get a job done right?  You should do that too. 

In a ROWE system managers set the goals and benchmarks that their team members must meet and then give them the tools and freedom to achieve those goals.  ROWE has been implemented at Best Buy, Gap, and with the Girl Scouts of California.  It is gaining some attention in the HR world and will be the subject of a four part series I will be blogging about.

ROWE is rooted in a concept called schedule control.  Schedule control studies the extent to which an employee is (fill in a variable.  Example include happy, empowered, loyal etc) based on the extent to which they control their work environment.  As a general rule

\research has shown that the more control an employee has over their schedule the happier they are and the better their feelings are towards their organization.  I am currently looking to see if schedule control has been linked to lower turnover or intention to leave rates.

Over the next few blogs, we will look at ROWE.  Specifically,

  • How did employers who adopted ROWE perform?  What were the success and drawbacks?
  • What does other research on ROWE suggest?
  • What do managers think about adopting a ROWE mentality?
  • What are the core concepts that managers can take and adapt to their work environments?

Final Thought.

Empowering employees is generally a good thing.  Life situations are far more complex than they ever have been and ROWE could be a powerful tool to help employees succeed in life and the workplace.  The emphasis on treating employees like capable adults while holding them accountable for their big picture goals is a refreshing one.  At its worst ROWE can be another powerful tool in the team leaders’ arsenal and that alone, has a benefit worth examining in the next few weeks.