Work it Wednesday: Results Only Work Environment

7:54 AM, Sep 15, 2010   |    comments
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Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson of

As co-workers in the HR department at Best Buy, Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler would look around at wonder why the workplace couldn't be re-designed.

They saw people putting in lots of time in the office, but not always getting the job done.

"I mean, bottom line is, people aren't hired to put in time," says Thompson, "they're actually hired to produce results, but we forgot about that in the structure of work."

Thompson says work becomes a place to go to and do "stuff."

"But if you take away the place you go part, all you have left is what I do.  So managers need to get cleared with employees,'What were you hired to do, what are we paying you for?'"

Thompson and Ressler decided to turn the notion of work equals time upside down, and created a program called Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE.

"It's really re-wiring people's brains to rip away that safety net of time and physical presence." says Ressler.

Best Buy became what Ressler calls a "petrie dish" where the women worked with two departments to try out their ROWE concept.

Employees were judged solely on their performance, not on how much time they put into the job, or their physical presence at corporate offices.

Managers had to determine exactly what they wanted employees to do, and then leave it to the employees to get the job done.

An interesting thing happened.

"It started to spread in a viral manner," says Ressler.  "they started buzzing and talking about how much more productive they were, how much healthier they were, how much happier they were."

Ressler says productivity on ROWE teams has been known to increase 40-percent or more as people concentrate on getting the job done, not on putting in time.

That exposes managers to an uncomfortable truth.

"Every one today is working under a false sense of security," says Ressler.  "The first question that leaders ask is, 'how will we know what people are doing?' And then they look around the table and they realize, 'We really don't know today.'"

Thompson says, "The biggest challenge for managers is to let go of that physical presence and time piece, and really get clear about goals and expectations with each person and stepping back and letting that happen."

The women says ROWE can be implemented in any work environment. 

If a coffee shop opens at 6am, and a worker isn't there to make that happen and serve the customer, the job didn't get done.  It is a performance issue, not a time issue.

These days Thompson and Ressler work for themselves, and have a consulting company called CultureRX, which helps companies implement ROWE.

The women have also developed a website that highlights what they believe ROWE will ultimately become, a social movement.

Learn more at



(Copyright by KARE 2010. All rights reserved.)

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