Definition

Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

A Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) is one in which the emphasis is on the actual work done. How or when that work is accomplished is not important. 

Employees are free to come and go as they please and work the hours that suit them from any location. There is no requirement that employees work a certain number of hours, as long as they get the job done and do not cause a bottleneck, holding up other employee's work.

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.

At Best Buy, departments that adopted the ROWE model saw a 35 percent increase in productivity. Voluntary turnover (employees resigning) decreased drastically -- as much as 90 percent lower, according to some reports. Involuntary turnover (employees being fired) typically increases in a ROWE workplace, on the other hand, because managers can easily see which employees aren't pulling their weight. 

A ROWE isn't appropriate for every type of work. It wouldn't be feasible, for example, to let Best Buy sales representatives leave the store whenever they wanted or work from home. The same is true of many other jobs, including most service personnel and the medical profession.

In a traditional work environment, long hours of work do not necessarily equate to productivity. According to a study by Microsoft, the average worker puts in 45 hours a week, 16 of which are not considered productive. Research by America Online and Salary.com found that people were productive for what amounted to three days out of five. Self-described personal development expert Steve Pavlina asserts that people are typically productive for just 1.5 hours out of the work day.

Learn More About IT:
> Seth Brown explains why 'Results should matter, not just working late.'
> Ressler and Thompson blog about the ROWE.
> Lindsay Blakely explains how, why and where a ROWE works.
> Lisa Belkin explores the issues of time and productivity in this article, Time Wasted? Perhaps it's well spent.
 

This was last updated in February 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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