What Remote Teams Can Learn from Results Only Work Environments

Woman using gray laptop computer in kitchen

(April 2020) – Results Only Work Environments, or ROWE, were first introduced by Jodi Thompson and Cali Ressler, two managers and authors of the book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution. Just as it sounds, a results-based workplace, which are also often remote, is an environment where traditional measures of progress/success are replaced by a focus entirely on the work getting done. In other words, it doesn’t matter where the work happens or when, it just matters that it is done well.

ROWE approaches allow for some of the most prominent trends in the workplace in recent years to take precedence: remote work, the gig economy and work-life balance. Those who have been working with the ROWE model have plenty of advice for those who are making the shift to remote work:

  • Communication: Once you have clearly outlined goals, projects, tasks and assignments, you must clearly communicate them to your team. In addition, make sure the members of your team are aware of how and when to best communicate with each other and understand the value of clearly communicating what they will need from other members of the team to accomplish their own goals.
  • Letting go: It can be difficult for some leaders to let go of the traditional management or work environment norms. It can feel like they are losing control. But by trusting employees to do their work as capable and motivated adults, leaders can make the work more manageable and encourage autonomy and ownership.
  • No judgment (of yourself or others). The traditional workplace defines productivity by hours spent in an office. While initially it may be hard to let go of the guilt or self-judgment that often accompanies leaving early, or taking a personal appointment in the middle of a traditional work day, try to keep in mind that all that matters is that you actually are being productive, not that you “look” productive. Extend that same attitude toward others in your workplace.

When trying to navigate the new world of remote work, results-only work environments remind us that managing work while trusting your team can go a long way. In the words of Thompson, “What people need is to be trusted like the adults they are, with the ability to take complete control over their time. Then, and only then, will they have the opportunity to be intrinsically motivated to not only do work, but own the work — really be accountable for what they were hired to do.”


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About the author

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the publication’s lead writers. A native of Brevard County, she splits her time between Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

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