I’ve referenced Tim Ferris’ awesome blog post about Best Buy’s Results-Only-Work-Environment before, but it bears quoting again:
ROWE stands for Results-Only Work Environment. In a ROWE, each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Currently, there are two authentic ROWEs—Fortune 100 retailer Best Buy Co, Inc. and J. A. Counter & Associates, a small brokerage firm in New Richmond, WI. At both organizations, the old rules that govern a traditional work environment—core hours, “face time,” pointless meetings, etc.—have been replaced by one rule: focus only on results.
In the 4-Hour Workweek, you helped people understand that because of technology, people don’t have to defer living until retirement. They can design their own lifestyle. Now imagine what would happen if the entire culture of a workplace went through the same transformation. That’s what a ROWE is. A ROWE is a work culture that gives people the power to take control of their lives. As long as they get their job done, they’re free.
One of the points I made in my last post about lifestyle was about the difficulty in transitioning from college to a “typical” corporate job:
I think it’s one of the hardest adjustments students have to make when going into the corporate world. All of a sudden you’re not able to decide what you do and when you do it. It’s like you regress back to being in high school.
The more I think about it, college is the ultimate ROWE. I’m sure it was slightly different for everyone, but here’s how it pretty much worked for me: you get a syllabus the first day of class that has all of your assignments, projects, and tests in it and it’s your responsibility to get all of it done. You don’t have to go to class. If you do, you don’t have to participate. You don’t have to turn in homework (unless it counts towards your grade). Your only responsibility is to meet the requirements of the syllabus, which usually entails turning in a few key papers/projects and taking a few important tests. That’s it. No one tells you how to do it or when to do it. You can work an hour each morning a month in advance or do it all the night before. Whatever works for you so long as you get it done.
Now why the hell aren’t more companies like this? I know, I know, academia and business are two different things. But the mentality of the results being what matters, that’s what should translate. Clearly some companies are starting to make the push. It just blows my mind that this isn’t more common. It seems like such common sense. I mean, at my job, everyone told me to come early and stay late because it “looked good”. So I’d get all my work done in like 5 hours and then bone around on ESPN.com until 5:30 so I’d look like a hard worker. Why on earth I couldn’t just take off at 3 was beyond me. All of my work on all of my projects was up to date. There’s just no motivation to work fast or efficiently. You have to be there for 8-9 hours regardless. It’s such garbage.
Conversely, if you build a company around accomplishing meaningful things, you’ll have employees who are willing to work longer, harder, and smarter because they care. If they know that they can take advantage of downtime to run errands, spend time with their family, or relax, they’ll be happier and more satisfied with their job.
Seems like common sense…doesn’t it?