results-only work environment

This panel is packed. Could people really want a new way to work? And they gave us their book just for attending. That convinces me they believe themselves when they say “this is a social movement”.

Transition from attendance-based to results-based compensation

This is a culture change. Give people autonomy to do your job as long as the work gets done, the results happen. Instead of work being a place you go, work should be something you do. In a ROWE, each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done. Pay employees to get an outcome, instead of paying them to “do a lot of stuff” and not get an outcome.

As the job market starts to improve, people are going to changing jobs during a time when people are focusing on happiness; finding work that is important/personal to them. If organizations want to keep their people, you need to think about the way your employees work. ROWE is here to stay!

[ session description ]

Alexandra Levit @alevit
Cali & Jody @caliandjody
Jeff Gunther @jeffgunther
Jessica Lawrence @jessicalawrence
15 March 2010

The employee’s most prized asset is his/her brain. It’s a knowledge economy now. ROWE can be measured all the way to the bottom line. What the company owns is your work, not your face. Traditional work time is wasteful and prevents employees from living their lives now, which in turn reduces the value they can bring to the workplace. The key here is to let organizations get what they need out of their employees. The current work environment is so broken that people don’t give all that they could give. Organizations are missing out!

Sludge – Judgment about how other people spend their time.

How do organizations retain the top talent? Not with cultures where the employer does not trust the employee. All employees. Period. Otherwise, organizations are hiring people they don’t trust. Why would you do that? That culture teaches people to be mindless followers instead of the people who can innovate and bring true, lasting, and continuous value to the workplace. Move from a permission-based system to empowering your employees.


Take three months to work in the new ROWE, and then write “results” so that the results are based on the new work environment, not the traditional way of thinking about work.

  • Shift to using laptops.
  • Tracking hours is closer to actual work done.
  • Gen-Y employees are already habituated to be able to work anywhere.
  • Cross-training actually starts to make sense, because any type of ways to work becomes possible

Metrics – How do you measure your ROWE implementation? Does anyone leave? How happy are employees? Productivity?


Successful employees will be those who can solve problems in the most effective way. Write expected results tied to company goals, with measurable objectives of what work they actually did. Measure the hell out of how well you are meeting expectations. This requires active, planned communication.


Integrating this is a leadership challenge: leaders who understand that giving up control can make a company better. But giving up control isn’t the same as giving up involvement. In fact, it requires a lot more communication between managers and employees regarding clear expectations. Everyone must be aligned to the goals and expectations.

Start with a baseline of “everyone can be trusted”. Give new hires the opportunity (via clear goals and expectations) to be accountable for getting results. Audit your policies to see where they are not based on trust, and re-write policies from the standpoint of “trust first”. Managers need to change the approach to communicating what they need from employees.

Challenging the Status Quo

Once you have objective results by which you are measuring people, there is the reality that some people will not perform and will need to be let go. This is where the rubber meets the road. This creates new HR issues to deal with: work-a-holics can be adversely affected because they work all the time instead of benefiting from traditional work boundaries and get burned out. Must counsel work-a-holics on how to not work that much (great problem to have!).