I tend to fall for provocative book titles and headlines, which makes navigating supermarket check-out lines a challenging exercise in willpower.
So, when I recently received a press copy of "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution" by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, there was zero chance I wasn't going to read it.
"Why Work Sucks" is an easy read that outlines the concept of ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) and how implementing ROWE can revolutionize work as we know it.
"Imagine a workplace where employees can do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done," the book's jacket reads. "No more pointless meetings, racing to get in at 9:00, or begging for permission to watch your kid play soccer. You make the decisions about what you do and where you do it."
Um, where have Ressler and Thompson been all my adult life and how can I get them to my company, stat?
To be fair, ROWE is not really new - EBN profiled Ressler and Thompson in a report about how they created ROWE at Best Buy a few years ago (see "Further Reading" box). However, ROWE has only made greater inroads since then.
In addition to ROWE's success at Best Buy, the concept has caught the attention of the president, who last year implemented a ROWE trial in the Office of Personnel Management. ROWE also helped Gap Inc. achieve a turnover rate of just 7%, down from 21% a year earlier, and increase employee engagement from 69% to 82% in the same time period. The transition has had a personal effect on Eric Serson, Gap Inc.'s VP of human resources, who says, "I'm much healthier; I'm getting more sleep and I'm more alert."
Fewer meetings and more sleep? Is ROWE too good to be true?
Perhaps. But in today's increasingly pressurized, digitized and economized culture, the concept may also be concrete and ripe for growth. Especially since, in the comments of a recent post at EBN's blog, the Daily Diversion, it seems several readers are like me in preferring a flexible job to a rigid one.
The post had its roots from a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal's "Juggle" column, dedicated to the struggles and successes of balancing work and family. In the column, a reader was debating whether to take a new job that would offer her more flexibility but wouldn't be very interesting, or stay in her current job, which was stimulating but not flexible.
I asked myself: Would you rather have a job that was flexible but boring, or interesting but rigid? Thankfully, as the Editor of EBN, I get the best of both worlds - this job is both flexible and interesting.
But if I absolutely had to choose, I would pick a flexible boring job every day of the week and twice on Sunday. As the mom of two little ones, being able to drop everything, rearrange everything, reschedule everything to be there for them is a top priority.
For example, as I was working from home one day, I received a call from my daughter Mia's teacher. Mia's eye was red, puffy and drippy - classic call signs for pink eye. Pink eye at school is a no-go, so I picked her up, brought her home, and settled her on the couch doing puzzles.
I was able to rearrange my work schedule and tasks to tend to my sick little one, but still be present and available for both. I had to work later than normal that evening, but it was a small price to pay - a fee I wouldn't have been able to negotiate if I had a fascinating but inflexible job.
Most commenters agreed with me, like Janet T, who said, if presented with the choice, she'd pick "MOST DEFINETELY FLEXIBLE. I'm living proof - I went from a Fortune 500 company to a small company for that reason. Life is too short! And I wanted to enjoy some of it. I even took a small pay cut for the flexibility. Well worth it."
But what Ressler and Thompson are suggesting goes way beyond the bounds of traditional flextime and telework arrangements. Can it really work on a widespread, national scale? And what would it do to our culture if it did?
In a recent sit-down with Ressler and Thompson, I asked them just that and more. (Also, special thanks to Daily Diversion commenter Curt P, who sent in some valuable and thought-provoking questions that I presented to the authors during our Q&A. If you're reading this, Curt P, please e-mail me so I can send you a token of my appreciation.)
Visit ebn.benefitnews.com to read an excerpt of my interview with Ressler and Thompson, and be sure to read the April 15 EBN for the full Q&A.
Meantime, if you've implemented ROWE at your company, how has it gone? What positive and negative consequences did you experience? If you had it to do over again, would you vote ROWE or no-go? E-mail me and let me know.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Employee Benefit News becomes archived within a week of it being published
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access