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Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

A Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) is a human resource management (HRM) strategy that places emphasis on setting and meeting objectives. A ROWE does not require employees to work a certain number of hours per week as long as they get the job done on time and do not cause bottlenecks that hold up other employees' work. How or when work is accomplished is not important.

Former Best Buy managers Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson developed the ROWE paradigm at the company's headquarters in Minneapolis. Ressler and Thompson created the model to address problems they saw with the typical work environment that affected both productivity and employee satisfaction.

Studies have found that putting in long hours at work does not necessarily equate to productivity. For example, according to a study by Microsoft, the average worker puts in 45 hours a week, 16 of which are not considered productive, and research by found that people were productive for what amounted to three days out of five. Although employees who work in a ROWE are free to come and go as they please and work hours that suit them from any location, involuntary turnover (employees being fired) typically increases. This may be because putting the focus on meeting objectives allows managers to easily see which employees aren't pulling their weight.


The ROWE strategy is popular with many startups, particularly those that are technology focused. In 2013, however, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly did away with the company's ROWE strategy. Joly felt the approach put too much emphasis on delegating work to employees and not enough emphasis on other leadership tasks such as coaching, motivating or directing employees.


This was last updated in August 2016

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