ROWE: Why Results Matter More Than Time in the Office

In 1926, it was imperative that factory workers were present on the assembly line for eight hours a day. 

Someone couldn’t make it in? They’re as replaceable as the parts on the widgets they were creating.

Fortunately, a lot has changed in the work environment since 1926.

Why, then, are we still so attached to the 9-5 workday that manifested almost a century ago?

Fast forward to today. Husband-wife business duo, Michael Rose and Nikole Rose, have found their solution to the traditional American workday. As founders of Mojo Media Labs, Nikole and Michael address some tough issues in the FMF four-part series, Culture Eats ABM for Breakfast.

In today’s episode, Nikole and Michael bring in Allison Gibbs, Director of Marketing Success at Mojo, to discuss ROWE: Results Only Work Environment.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • What ROWE looks like implemented
  • Why ROWE is considered radical in the workplace
  • Setting work boundaries when you’re only concerned with results

This post is based on a podcast with Michael Rose, Nikole Rose, and Allison Gibbs. You can listen to the full episode here and below.

What is ROWE?

What does ROWE actually look like?

Michael: if you’re an owner out there, you do not ask permission to come to the office, leave the office, go out of town, go on vacation. You generally don’t need permission.

However, your results are tied to the performance of the business.  

By giving everybody that permission to do what they want, when they want, how they want, where they want, so long as the results are there, it’s not about the time. 

I love the fact that we’ve been able to build our life around work and not our work around life.

Trusting your employees

What were some of the reasons SpinWeb (now Mojo Media Labs) decided to implement such a radical concept like ROWE?

Allison: It made sense to be able to treat our team members like adults. 

We trust them. We know that everybody’s going to get their work done. We don’t care how it gets done, we just need everything to be in alignment and we need success and results. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s in an office or not.

It’s about giving control back to each individual person. We’re talking about autonomy here. When you are looking at the generations that are now entering the workforce and what they’re excited about, more people want autonomy and responsibility.

One question that I always get is, “How do you know people are actually working?” 

I say, how do you know they’re working sitting at the desk right now? Chances are they’re probably on Facebook, playing Candy Crush. Who knows what they’re doing. 

Just because they’re sitting at their desks doesn’t mean they’re working.

ROWE requires an immense amount of trust in the team and it goes every single direction. It goes from top-down, bottom-up, side to side. If one person is not pulling their weight, the rest of the team will feel it.

It’s not the 1900s anymore

Why does ROWE work?

Michael: The eight-hour shift really came from the Industrial Revolution.

When you work with your hands, you have to be present. When you’re building a cabinet or a cart, you have to be there. If you’re not there, the work doesn’t get done.

But, we’re in an idea business and ideas don’t happen from 9 to 5. 

Setting boundaries

What are some other challenges of ROWE?

Allison: You really have to work on it together as a team. This can be an incredibly challenging environment for people that don’t know how to turn off work.

You have to set boundaries with yourself.

You have to be a self-starter. It’s almost like you’re owning your own business in your role. You have to be able to communicate and know how to manage yourself because nobody’s going to manage you.

Michael: It’s kind of like being back in college again.

You’re completely responsible for your own time and your own schedule for the most part. You don’t have to go to class, but you want those results. If you don’t put in the effort, you aren’t going to get the results.

Nikole: What we’re finding is that ROWE really encourages the high performers. It’s most desired by those people who value getting things done and they can get them done quickly.

The newest work revolution

It seems like ROWE is pretty idealistic. How can it work in the real world?

Allison: Work should be something that we get to do that’s enriching our lives.

To be clear, this should be something that’s exciting and fun and not something we’re dreading by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, people are like, “Allison you’re such an idealist. That’s not realistic.” But, I actually think that it is realistic if you’re in the right role at the right job.

Nikole: Mojo Media Labs is a certified results-only work environment. 

We became certified through CultureRx and had two days facilitated for our entire company. Then, we had separate manager meetings on how to deal in a ROWE environment. That is really important stuff, and I encourage anybody who’s looking to go ROWE to think about it.

Once you say to everybody, “Okay, we’re ROWE, go ahead. You work wherever you want, when you want you,” you can’t take that back. 

It’s a big commitment and to go through the official training is super helpful.

Michael: Google ROWE. 

It gives you a good history of some really great companies that are still practicing ROWE. I’m proud to be one of those companies and I’m looking forward to taking our culture to a whole new level.

Next time…

Mojo Media Labs’ Director of Culture will be joining Nikole and Michael to fill us in on operationalizing work culture.

2019-09-17T18:58:20+00:00