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November 7, 2014

It's What, Not How, That Matters

Sarah Pavey


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Imagine rolling into work at 2 p.m. one day, and not coming in at all the next... as long as you meet your agreed deadlines.

It might sound like the type of behavior that would lead to a stern meeting with your boss, but this type of results-only work environment (ROWE) is common in a number of organizations.

In a ROWE, you measure people by their performance and results, not by their presence at their desks or the hours that they work. In short, they have complete freedom over their tasks, and they can choose when and how they will meet their goals.

At Mind Tools, we find that this approach works well when you have projects with set deadlines and clear outcomes, but it isn't effective when teams need to be available to answer calls, or where work is unpredictable or difficult to define in advance.

I don't work in a ROWE, although I do work flexibly and remotely for several days a week. I keep track of my time with a timesheet, work 8-4.30, and communicate with my co-workers through scheduled face-to-face meetings, Skype, email, and IM.

In editorial, our work is quite unpredictable: deadlines change, articles need to be rewritten, and people have different responsibilities. I can't help but think that a ROWE approach wouldn't benefit us – we need to be available to handle last-minute changes, and train newer members of the team in person. Have you ever tried to explain how to use image editing software over email?!

Read our article to learn more about the challenges and benefits of implementing a ROWE with your team, and find out how you can overcome the difficulties if you decide that the approach is right for you.

Question:Do you work in a ROWE? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?

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