ROWE: Results-Only Work Environment

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 2094 , Published on 20 March 2012

Modern day organizations adopt innovative strategies and methods to enhance the performance of their employees with an aim to build competitive advantage. But most of the organizations do not have a clue how their corporate structures are out of sync with the working style of Generation Y employees. The work style of Gen Y is such that it does not need managers to micro manage them as they are themselves result-oriented.

Results only work environment

The fact that managers is taking a stroll and keeping an eye on the subordinates to see if they are working or not is never appreciated by employees  especially now that employee considers these activities as non value added work by managers. This scenario demands a shift in style of managers as well as the work culture of the companies. But the question is: why organizations should be so concerned about the needs of Gen Y employees? Simply because Gen Y is going to be a major chunk of workforce ten years down the line. In Indian context, where majority of workforce is young the situation calls for accelerated efforts. Take example of Marriot hotels, the workforce already constitutes 60% of Gen Y employees.

To drive this change, one such technique is Results-Only Work Environment known as ROWE. It is a performance management strategy where delivering result on time is all that matters to the organization and employees are left free to manage themselves. The organization just makes sure that resources required to accomplish the job are available to the employee on time. The employee no longer needs to stick to his seat to give the impression to his supervisor that he is working throughout the day. Managers do not need to constantly keep track of their subordinates and appraisal process becomes less prone to judgments and hence completely based on results. This technique saves a lot of non-value adding efforts on the part of employees as well as management. It also makes the life of an HR professional a lot easier.

The organization does not have to worry about the work life balance of the employees in most of the cases. Retention of good talent will be lot easier and productivity will touch new heights with a more satisfied, motivated, energized and engaged workforce. A Results-Only Work Environment is all about productivity. But more importantly, your workforce will respond to the business as if it were their own. With ROWE you can stop monitoring the hallways and focus your energy on the business.

A research conducted by University of Minnesota investigated effect of ROWE on employee health and well being and found that ROWE employees have greater organizational commitment, report higher job satisfaction, view the culture as ‘family friendly’, report increased job security, report less work‐family conflict, report a decrease in negative spillover from work‐to‐family, begin to sleep more than seven hours a night, improve the quality of their sleep, now go to the doctor when sick, begin to exercise more frequently and report gains in energy (Thompson & Ressler). Another major impact can be on the society as less people will drive daily to work as more people will take advantage of technology to do work efficiently.

Now few people might argue that ROWE is big change for most organizations and will be hard to drive. But the fact is that the prospect of adopting this strategy has the capability to excite employees as well as management. This is a change which can be driven across every business simply because it is all about delivering results and every business is driven by that. Another major concern might be that people will take advantage of this freedom. Quite possible, but over time non performers will either start delivering or will be eliminated from the system.

ROWE not only changes the work style but the whole culture where non performance is not tolerated and everybody is concerned about delivering results. The only backlash of this change can be on communication. Communication will be difficult when people are not able to meet each other and hence trust will suffer. But it can be taken care by technology and HR of the company collectively. The technologically-advanced, wired world we live in is conducive to a flexible schedule and/or a remote workplace. Also teams who virtually interact with each other can be made to know each other through team building exercises.

So, the final point I would like to make is that despite certain apprehensions about this new technique, it is worth a try as the benefits for all the stakeholders involved are many. In situations, where so many interests are getting satisfied people will work together to make the system successful. This is the biggest hope for most organizations which can make this system the way forward for many.

This article has been authored by Musheer Ahmad from XLRI.

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