Why Work Sucks: Implementing a ROWE at your company

This past week I had the pleasure of co-presenting a session at Sage’s annual partner conference with Ed Kless of Sage.  This year the conference was held at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN which was great for me since Nashville is only a 2.5 hour drive from home.

Ed asked me to talk about a concept that we implemented at Aries about 18 months ago.  It is a concept that has proven to be invaluable to us from a productivity standpoint.

The concept is called ROWE which stands for Results-Only Work Environment.  The basic premise of a ROWE is that you work in an environment that is focused on accomplishing results during the work day instead of focusing on rigid schedules, required meetings and structured vacation/sick/personal policies.

Yes, that means there are no work schedules, no required meetings and no time-off policies when a company adopts a ROWE.

Now, I didn’t create this idea.  It was pioneered by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson at Minneapolis-based electronics retailer Best Buy.  They documented this incredible transformation in their book “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It.”  I highly recommend both the book and their blog (www.caliandjody.com/blog).

I strongly believe that implementing a ROWE is one of the primary reasons, if not the primary reason, that Best Buy is still in business and Circuit City is not.  The last time I checked, Best Buy stock was valued around $38 per share and Circuit City was around $.022.

All 4,000 Best Buy corporate employees are currently working in a ROWE.  Their productivity has dramatically increased and their employee turnover rates have dramatically decreased.  Talk about adding dollars straight to the bottom line.

For us at Aries, implementing a ROWE has:

  • Increased our job satisfaction because now we all work the way that is most comfortable for each one of us.  This translates directly to increased customer satisfaction since it completely redefines the definition of a “good” day at work.
  • Created an environment that is very attractive to the most talented people.  Doesn’t everyone want to work at a company where they are in charge of their own lives?
  • Believe it or not, a ROWE actually increases the amount of work that we can accomplish.  Personally, I have been able to complete many more projects once I clearly defined my results for a week, a month, a quarter and a year.  That seems like a small and obvious change but it yields huge results.

The most positive experience for any company who decides to implement ROWE is that it forces everyone in the organization from the President to the receptionist to clearly define their results.  Think about it this way, when we were in school we were responsible for setting our own results, for setting our own schedule and for making sure that the results were accomplished.  We grow up and instead of graduating to adult status; we revert to being treated like a child who cannot be expected to accomplish anything without the constant attention of a parent (boss).

When you give someone control over their lives, there is no limit to what your employees and your company can accomplish.

If any of our customers are interested in talking more about ROWE or if they’re ready to take the plunge, I would be more than happy to assist in any way possible.  That’s one more way to put an Aries unlimited support agreement to good use.

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