The COVID-Informed Workplace and Results Only Work Environments
The workplace is ever-changing, and the workplace will now forever be informed by the presence of COVID. COVID has accelerated the pace of change and has caused employers and employees to fundamentally rethink the way in which they go about “work”, and there is a focus on organizational philosophies, company culture and work-life balance initiatives. In the mid-2000’s, Gap Outlet, a division of Gap Inc., revolutionized the workplace of their corporate headquarters by implementing a Results-only Work Environment (ROWE)—a management technique in which employees have the freedom to decide what to work on and when to do so.
By giving employees control of their careers, they will ideally be happier and more productive. This philosophy challenges the way many managers reward employees—by how much time they put in at the office—and encourages rewarding only results.
Types of Benefits
Under this business model, employees and employers have the following benefits:
- Employees can fulfill their duties when they want, as long as they get done.
- Employees feel more in control of their professional and personal lives.
- Unlimited paid vacation
- Employees are less likely to be overworked or stressed on the job.
- No schedules, mandatory meetings or judgments from others about how and when employees spend their time working.
- Elimination of wasteful processes often seen as busy work by employees.
- Management trusts employees to get their work done without telling them when, where or how it happens.
- Employees are judged based on how much they get accomplished and how successful they are at meeting goals.
- It’s environmentally friendly, as working from home can save on electricity used at the workplace and eliminates the commute.
- ROWE can be used as a recruitment and retention technique.
For example, a Gap Outlet employee may complete an entire month of work in just two weeks so he can devote those other two weeks to traveling with his family. Another employee may log in hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then pick up where she left off at 8 p.m.
This system is effective only if management and employees are clear about job descriptions and expectations. In addition, employees must learn how to communicate with one another, plan around each other’s schedules and pick up additional responsibilities when co-workers take time off.
This management philosophy is not a realistic option for all professions. For instance, it is ineffective in the service industry where employees must be present to fulfill their duties. ROWE also does not work well for professionals who operate on external schedules like stockbrokers who must work when the market is open. Most importantly, this system will be ineffective for those who do not have a firm grasp on their time-management skills.
To implement ROWE at your organization, remember the following:
- Make meetings optional for employees, when possible, by allowing them the freedom to decide if they should participate. If they can make better use of company time, then they should do so.
- Do not judge how employees segment their work hours.
- Reward employees based on their performance, not how much time they