So imagine, if you will, a job where you can decide when and where you work. The only requirement is that you complete all of your assigned duties. If you had it, you would be working in a ROWE or results-oriented work environment.
Employees at the Best Buy Richfield, MN offices didn’t have to imagine this scenario. It was their real life work experience, beginning began back in 2005 thanks to two Best Buy employees Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler. Studying this experiment, sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen found that it worked better than expected.
Maybe more of us should get to ROWE.
Their study, “Changing Workplaces to Reduce Work-Family Conflict: Schedule Control in a White-Collar Organization.” has been published in the April 2011 issue of American Sociological Review.
Kelly and Moen looked at how ROWE worked at the Best Buy offices and if it had an impact on employee work-family conflicts.
ROWE works like this:
- All meetings are optional. Staff can decide whether or not they really need to attend the meetings. If they chose not to, they must deal with consequences and benefits of doing so.
- Results must be defined. Managers and staff work together to determine what is the goal of work. Achievements and explicit tasks are measured instead of hours spent sitting in a cubicle.
- Communication is key. Employees have to determine the most effective way to communicate with colleagues if they are going to be sitting at home working.
- Every day feels like Saturday: a flexible work schedule allows employees to run those weekend errands throughout the day rather than cramming them into the precious few hours of the weekend.
ROWE reduced employee turnover 45%. According to Moen and Kelly, this study points out what many of us have already knew: schedule control can reduce the work-family or for those without kids, work-life conflicts.
Wondering how you can get in?. That depend on your company’s culture. The traditional work place structure of the employee clocking in and out is still the expected norm in the U.S. workplace. Having a ROWE requires that managers take the steps toward authentic transformative leadership that empower employees rather than just manage them.
Abraham Maslow once stated that the enlightened manager expresses great trust in employees and assumes that they prefer to be the primary mover rather than the passive helper.
In his book, Maslow on Management, he offered that as an individual moves towards self-actualization, their motives for why and how they work shift. A high paying job is great for fulfilling basic needs but a position that offers the opportunity to grow emotionally and to find meaning in work is what we need most of all. The payoff for work is a regular pay. The payoff for inspired work is metapay. Maslow outlines 36 principles of what he termed Eupsychian (having a good mind/soul) Management. A few in particular are demonstrated in the ROWE workplace.
- Everyone is to be trusted. Employees are trusted to get their work done, to show up when needed, and to be personally accountable.
- Everyone is more likely to prefer responsibility to dependency. In the ROWE workplace the employees are responsible for their schedules and are not dependent on the approval of their managers to complete their work or to manage their time.
- There is the wisdom and the efficacy of self-choice by everyone. ROWE encourages employees to make choices about how they work, and choice generates creativity and ultimately wisdom.
These are just a few elements. The ROWE workplace may actually do more for the employees than what is shown in the Moen and Kelly study. It may give people the chance, and the time, to pursue a meaningful life.
— Makenna Berry