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6 Myths about Results-Only Work Environment

People don’t like change, as a general rule.When you start talking about changing the way work gets done, that’s the kind of change that really excites and scares people at the same time. Changing work culture isn’t simple, but it can be done. We’ve helped many businesses and organizations go through the process of  changing long-held beliefs and presumptions about how work should get done.

Over the years since we created the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), a lot of myths and misconceptions have sprouted up. We wanted to take a moment to share some of the most common myths about ROWE and set the record straight.


1. ROWE is telework, flextime, and work from home program.

Absolutely not. There’s a great tendency to focus on time and place when it comes to work. When people hear that ROWE employees can work anywhere, anytime, as long as the work gets done, they leap to the conclusion that ROWE is about working from home. It isn’t. ROWE is about meeting results. One example we like to share is a child-care center that recently went through ROWE certification. The teachers obviously cannot work from home. To meet their results (taking care of children) they must be in a specific location.

2. If people get their work done in less than 40 hours, then they need more work.
The reward for work done well… should not be MORE work (usually somebody else’s, who has fallen behind in their work). Rewarding your high performers by commanding them to do the additional work of your slackers is not a reward at all. That is punishment.

3. Not every business can be a ROWE.
We’ve already established that ROWE is not about telework. Of course, ‘working from home’ doesn’t work for all job tasks. But focusing on results does work for all jobs. To hear people say that ROWE doesn’t work for some jobs is simply saying that not everyone should focus on results. And that’s just silly.

4. Not every employee can be trusted.
It’s amazing what businesses are doing because of the obsession with tracking time; for instance, hiring private detectives to follow employees if they take a sick day. Are people really so untrustworthy? Do employees deserve to be treated like adults? There’s a good reason why people play hooky from work, and it’s because they’re being treated like children.

5. In a ROWE people will take advantage and slack off.
Quite the opposite. In fact, most companies that go ROWE see tremendous increases in productivity and efficiency. Here’s what the CEO of Ripple, had to say about employees slacking: “..no one has tolerance for non-performers anymore, and non-performers don’t have anything to hide behind. They are either getting the results, or they are not.”

6. Managers need to be in the office for their people.
Like this one, most of the myths we’ve heard have something to do with not knowing how to manage people you may not see every day. How do you know they’re working? What will my role as a manager be if I don’t have to keep track of schedules? Jody Thompson is presenting a webinar in January on the topic of “Managing the Virtual Worker.” You should sign up for this one or pass it along if you have questions about this particular myth.

What myths have you heard in defense of the traditional workplace? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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