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The Benefits of a Results-Only Work Environment

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Over at the More Than a Few Words podcast, two Indianapolis small business owners discussed the benefits of a Results-Only Work Environment. That’s more than a buzzword—ROWE is a radically different perspective on running a business.

Lorraine Ball interviewed Michael Reynolds on the notion that results are more important than time. In the audio clip, Reynolds explained the biggest challenge in moving away from the standard modus operandi of a small business:

The most difficult thing…was getting out of the mindset of ‘filling a chair’ from 8 to 5. In this workplace culture, we value filling a chair for a certain number of hours [as if] that equals productivity. But in reality, it doesn’t. Productivity is what gets accomplished, what gets done.

At first glance, this observation doesn’t sound like rocket science. We all know that’s it’s not the hours of work that matter but work we do within those hours. But if we take this thought to it’s logical conclusion, we end up with thoughts like those Reynolds offers next:

ROWE is not just a matter of shifting your schedule around. You can literally work as much or as little as you want. Sometimes our employees will work 20 hours a week and they still get paid full time. That’s because they have accomplished the right amount of work.

Interviewer and fellow small business owner Lorraine Ball doesn’t miss a beat with her response:

You know that’s going to strike fear in the hearts of many small business owners.

Both Reynolds and Ball are absolutely correct. If you can finish all your work in half the time, you still deserve full credit and full compensation. But almost any small business owner will look at time saved as money saved. Employees who work less get paid less. Or do they?

When we covered this topic regarding employee satisfaction and the ROWE concept, we noted that a traditional time-oriented work environment not only punishes employees who are more efficient, but may actually encourage them to put in more hours. After all, you’ll either get overtime pay or at least notoriety by coming in on the weekends. Employees may find themselves without any incentive to work smarter if working longer hours earns them more respect and a bigger paycheck.

consultants meeting

© Flickr user Baltic Development Forum

Later in the podcast conversation, Lorraine Ball asked about setting appropriate objectives and workload which are fair to both employer and employee. Michael Reynolds admitted that he doesn’t have a great answer, but that it comes “with practice” and starts by “working backwards from objectives.”

The reason that Reynolds had a hard time articulating this process is because it is best achieved through an even more revolutionary idea than replacing work-as-time with work-for-results. If you truly seek to put a dollar value to a particular end product, you have to either give the employee information about your revenue model or trust the employee to quote you a fair price. Neither of these are comfortable for many business owners. We often think of employees as people who work for us at our pleasure, not as competent experts who are more effective the more they know about how everything works. But as we’ve covered time and time again on this blog, the more trust you put in your employees and the more you value them, the better results you’ll see.

At AccelaWork, we make every effort to compensate our employees for quality results instead of the passing of time. We prefer to bill clients for each success rather than each hour. If you’re ready to rethink the way you work, contact our business improvement consultants. We can help you improve your work environment from the bottom up.

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