Results-Only Workplace Or Workplace-Only Results?

ROWE means “Results-Oriented Work Environment” and is for the fluid economy what the 4-Hour Work Week is for individuals. But what are the pros and cons of ultimate work flexibility?Googleplex view.

Googleplex view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new superstar CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer has brought attention and criticism to her decision to centralize all remote workers (customer service reps, among other functions) and bring them physically back into the Yahoo offices rather than having them keep working from their homes. One of those questioning this decision is Sir Richard Branson, who writes in his blog that it “… seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.”

So, what’s the context here? It can be boiled down to an argument of whether ROWE is effective or not (or when it is vs when it isn’t). According to Wikipedia: “ROWE – Results Only Work Environment is a human resource management strategy co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler wherein employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked.”

I first heard of ROWE in this blog post on Tim Ferriss‘ blog, where Cali Ressler clearly lays out the benefits of the strategy even in large organizations.

So, the benefits of allowing employees to do their job anywhere, anytime are obvious if you read the link above. Then what would be the reasons for a leader such as Marissa Mayer to enforce this organizational change?

One can only speculate. I think a huge clue can be found in Marissa’s background at Google. The Googleplex company headquarters “campus” is a shining example of strong company culture that still embraces flexibility and individual “freedom of expression” for lack of a better description.

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I think face-to-face company culture briefings , “teambuilding trainings” etc are a necessary part of what needs to be done at Yahoo to reignite and align their entire team towards their new common goals. It wouldn’t surprise me if after a couple of years, once a good deal of in-house rallying is done and a new company spirit soars between their office walls, the “work@home” people will again have that option back on their table. Remember, there is no such thing as a final strategy decision in today’s fluid world.

That’s it for today folks! Have you experienced big shifts in company culture where you’ve worked – or instigated such shifts as a leader?

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