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Implementing ROWE: A Case Study-Part 1

Last year, I wrote a blog about ROWE, Results Only Work Environment.  Through a networking group, I was introduced to Michael Reynolds, President and CEO of SpinWeb, an Indianapolis based web solutions firm.  Michael has implemented ROWE in his organization and I sat down with him to talk about the process and the impact it has had on his organization.  This blog will be focused more on the implementation and the principles.  Next week you can check back to read about the impact ROWE has had on his company. 

ROWE was implemented at SpinWeb about three years ago.  They were actually the first company in Indiana to implement ROWE.  As he was talking about some of the principles of ROWE, he specifically mentioned two areas I found interesting; meetings and the work itself. 

ALL meetings are optional, regardless of who sets up the meeting or the purpose of the meeting, meeting attendance is optional.  What this does is it cuts down on unnecessary meetings.  Let’s face it, we all spend part of every week in meetings that aren’t relevant to us or could have been accomplished with a couple of e-mails or phone calls.  Unnecessary meetings quickly stopped because employees stopped showing up.  This also forced the meeting organizer to create a clear agenda so others understood the purpose and desired outcomes of the meeting.  This allowed employees to spend more time accomplishing their objectives rather than wasting times in irrelevant meetings. 

Regarding work, Michael said all employees stop doing work they view as a waste of time.  The employee is trusted to make this decision.  If they view a part of their job as useless, they have the authority to stop it.  This requires employees to have a full understanding of the internal processes and ensure processes are incredibly efficient.  This, in turn, allows the employees to become more efficient in their job and work on the areas of greatest value to the company and the client. 

One big key to the success of ROWE is the role of management.  Management must do two things: they must trust their employees and they must set clear outcomes for its employees.  If they do not trust their employees, management will never fully allow them to make the decisions necessary for ROWE to be successful.  This requires management to put aside their egos and need for control, and truly trust their employees.  Secondly, management must be able to set clear outcomes for each employee so they know exactly what they are to accomplish.  This requires management to have a clear understanding of the business and the employees’ role in the business. 

A few other things I found interesting.  There is no set PTO policy.  People take off as they see fit.  If they want to catch a matinee movie or go play a round of golf, no problem.  As long as their outcomes are being met, when they work and how much they work is irrelevant.  SpinWeb actually has two types of vacations, Going Dark and Going Dim.  Going Dark means you are going off grid and you will not be accessible or checking in.  If an employee is Going Dark, they must coordinate with team members to ensure everything is covered.  Going Dim means you will be checking in while you are out and can move things along if needed. 

In my next blog, I will continue this interview and focus on the impact implementing ROWE has had on SpinWeb.  To learn more about ROWE, you can go to:

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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0 thoughts on “Implementing ROWE: A Case Study-Part 1

  1. Great blog! I have been on the SpinWeb team for 5 months now and can’t say enough about how ROWE has impacted my life. Having two young kids at home, ROWE has given me the flexibility to help my kids when needed. It has also motivated me to take responsibility for excelling at my job rather than "clocking in and clocking out".

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