As I’ve discussed before, and will likely explore a lot more in future, the 1950’s organisational “asses-on-seats-in-offices = productivity” thinking needs to go. We’ve all got mobile devices blah blah, always reachable blah blah – thats old news by now. Perhaps what we haven’t paid enough attention to is why leadership is so stuck on advocating the “ass-on-seat” policy, what does it mean to them? When people are forced to be present they become the embodiment of the work they do, so managing the people becomes the way we manage the work, control the people and by default you control their work. If people are not present the only thing to manage is the work and then, brace yourselves old schoolers, you have to trust the people to actually do the work.

Lets backtrack, I repeat ‘when people are forced to be present they become the embodiment of the work they do, so managing the people becomes the way we manage the work, control the people and by default you control their work’. People don’t like being controlled, think slave uprisings etc. etc. Control us and we will give you average delivery every time. Give us control and we will over-deliver, more willingly every time. I’m ignoring (for now) the implications of needing to get to the doctor, needing to attend to your kids etc. because the stress felt by lack  of control over our lives and time is something felt by all workers who work under these conditions.

What if we take the possibility of “managing the people” out of the equation? Enter R.O.W.E or Results Only Work Environment which is exactly what the name suggests. R.O.W.E comes down to  “managing work vs. managing people“. With R.O.W.E we divorce hours logged in the office from the measure of output. The onus is on you to meet your targets and achieve your goals whenever, wherever – meeting your objectives is your sole requirement.

Welcome to the 21st century folks – this method of working is just sensible. As I’ve said in previous posts, if a colleague wants information from me they can contact me at anytime (read: during my ‘personal time’) to get it, so why can I not run my personal life in my work time? This is the closest organisations are coming to harmonising life balance (the concept of work/life balance is rubbish, but that is a post for another time). In R.O.W.E organisations: You feel like an adult again at work. It’s the control, but it’s also the clarity on top of it. I now need to know what my results are supposed to be so I can prove that I’m getting there.”

Jody Thompson one of the founders of R.O.W.E says it fantastically: In our connected, online world chair-warming presenteeism isn’t necessary”Another vital element of R.O.W.E is eliminating any commentary that creates guilt over process rather than results. None of the “Oh she’s gone to dentist again” or “Oh look who is late again” remarks are tolerated. It should be unsurprising that R.O.W.E comes with a plethora of benefits which I’m sure you can guess include lower staff turnover, improved morale and improved employee wellbeing.

There are some elements of R.O.W.E that are seemingly extreme such as the voluntary attendance of meetings which initially seems preposterous, especially if the boss himself invited you. However, how much time have we all wasted by attending meetings where our presence was not at all required, and all we left with was the frustration of having had our time wasted? It’s about trusting employees to manage themselves in every aspect, no more showing up, being present and actually not doing anything, now it’s all results based, scary for the slackers but fantastic for the rest.

By taking the people-managing out of business R.O.W.E profoundly succeeds at putting people back at the heart of the business and putting business back into the hearts of the people. Treat your staff like the responsible and capable adults they are. I wonder if you tried this in your organisation what the positive change in sentiment would do?

Want to know more about R.O.W.E:

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