In my last blog, I shared an interview Michael Reynolds, President and CEO of SpinWeb, an Indianapolis based web solutions firm. Michael implemented ROWE (Results-Only-Work-Environment) in his company three years ago. My last blog shared with you some of the principles of how he has implemented ROWE. This blog will focus on the impact ROWE has had on his business.
Michael said moving to ROWE was the greatest thing they have ever implemented at their company. They have become more profitable and efficient. It forced them to rethink how they price projects. They used to estimate the number of hours each project would take and track hours. Now they have a project price based on certain key specifications of the project. Since hours aren’t being tracked, it encourages employees to be efficient in their job. The less time it takes to finish their piece of the project, the more time they have to themselves.
He said one other benefit that he did not expect was he is able to retain his top talent. His employees love this work environment. Over the years, top talent has also been attracted to his environment so he is able to pick the cream of the crop. Retaining and attracting top talent, in turn, allows him to be more efficient and more profitable and serve his clients even better.
One complaint I often hear is this approach will negatively impact customers because everyone will be off playing when a customer is calling with a need or an emergency. Michael says customer service has actually improved because at almost any given hour, someone is working and anytime, someone can respond to the client quickly. Customers love receiving responses after 5:00 or early in the morning. His work environment does not have regular office hours or certain times where employees must be logged in. Therefore, he may have employees working early in the morning or late at night. This means when a customer sends an e-mail or leaves a message, odds are someone either is working, or will be logging in shortly to work. Everyone in the office carries cell phones so it is not uncommon for an employee to talk on their cell anywhere or anytime.
One big lesson he learned in implementing ROWE is it is not about a rulebook and giving employees a list of rules and can and can’t dos. It is about rewiring your brain to think about work differently. Far too long we assume work can only happen in an office during certain hours. We have traded efficiency and profitability for control and lack of trust. I know many Senior Leaders will be reading this thinking something like this will never work in their company. That is the problem. Maybe you have tried it and a few employees took advantage or some customer calls fell through the cracks, that does not mean ROWE is at fault. More than likely, it was a bad hire or a lack of clear outcomes that lead to the problems. Just because there are bumps in the road, does not mean the road is bad, it could just mean it has not been traveled often. In today’s war on talent, Senior Leaders need to view work differently in order to attract and retain top talent, better meet customer needs, and become more profitable. Just because it is the way you have always done it, does not make it the best way. Maybe if you don’t think it will work, it is really telling you something about yourself rather than your work environment.
I also know many of you are thinking this only works in an IT environment. Wrong, Michael is working with a Day Care (yeah, you read that right) to implement it as well. This can work in any almost any environment. I loved what Michael said at the end of our meeting. He said all of the productivity gains and increases in profits are great but at the end of the day, ROWE is simply the right way to work.
if you would like to find out how to convert your organization to a ROWE, contact CultureRx at www.gorowe.com.