We talk a lot (I hope not too much) about how Ripplers love working in a results-only work environment. We really do. But there’s still a number of people I know who just can’t wrap their heads around the concept; let alone understand why I’d choose to write a blog post at 9PM on a Saturday night. Truth is, the ROWE experience is different for every individual. That’s the point. Focussing solely on results and not a timecard allows people the freedom to have a real, satisfying work/life balance.
As a content creator working for a b2b IT service provider, my schedule is a bit more flexible than say one of the guys on the Support Team. It’s their job to solve problems for our clients, most of which maintain a 9-5 schedule. So, Support tends to work those hours, though they’re certainly able to do the things they need to anytime with some simple communication. And, like myself, they can do most of what they do from anywhere including the office, their home or a park bench (provided they have a long enough extension cord). continue reading
Many companies are beginning to see the benefits of enacting a results-only policy, but there are still some that are either confused about the concept, or simply afraid of what ROWE might reveal about their employees and how they manage them.
The most important aspect of a Results-Only Work Environment is the emphasis on personal responsibility. In traditional workplaces, the focus might be on how often someone’s in the office, or how many billable hours they submit to their clients. But being in the office and sending out statements doesn’t have anything to do with the actual work being done. The focus should be on the results of their work.
Managers in traditional workplaces assume that if they don’t physically see their employees planted in their seats for a solid 8 hours, then they’re probably not doing their jobs. In a ROWE company, everyone is trusted to get their work done wherever, however, and whenever they need to. They’re judged solely on the work they do and the results they get, nothing more. continue reading
VPN. Cloud computing. VoIP. Telecommuting. These are all examples of how people can work where they want to, when they want to. Being a Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE, we judge the performance of our employees on just one thing: results. It’s a simple philosophy that’s showing up in more and more industries, including some companies you might not expect. As more people become educated about the benefits of having and being part of a flexible mobile workforce, the traditional way of doing things will not only be considered unfavorable by potential employees, but also outdated and counterproductive.
Key advantages to having a flexible workforce:
• Attract the best: Today’s best and brightest workers are not chaining themselves to a 9 to 5 desk job. They know better, quite frankly. Companies that allow and encourage workers to telecommute will quickly find themselves with a better talent pool to choose from. Giving your employees the freedom to work when and where they want to not only brings in the best, but will change the focus from how often their in the office to the results of their efforts. People who aren’t self-motivated won’t last long in a results-only environment, and you wouldn’t want them working for you anyway.
• Discover new innovations: The human brain needs time to roam, to create and to innovate. The traditional office environment can often limit innovation rather than encourage it whereas a mobile work force can seek out inspiration where it exists. Don’t get us wrong, Ripplers love to be in the office with each other but sometimes the chatter of a coffeehouse or the comforts of home can be a welcome change of pace for the mind.
I will never forget logging on to the Ripple website for the first time when I was learning about them. I clicked on the Jobs tab and up comes this explanation of why they’re a ROWE. Huh? As I read about this foreign concept of Results-Only Work Environment, I thought “This has got to be too good to be true”. I am very happy to admit that I was wrong about that.
Here I am, months later, a very happy Rippler and ROWE employee.
However, I have to say ROWE takes some getting use to. I have been in sales and marketing for over 10 years. And when I look back over previous positions, the most common thread has been… don’t be late! As if somehow showing up at 8:36 instead of 8:30 will magically undo all the hard work and late hours I have put into my job. Not to mention the added stress of related things like driving in rush hour traffic, or going into the office sick because I couldn’t spare one of my 10 vacation/sick days.
Here’s a strange but true story:
Photo by Clayton Bozard
Why do we Ripplers love our Results-only Work Environment so much? Because it allows talented people, like Human Support Specialist Bryan Gibson, to follow their dreams while simultaneously holding down a day job. Bryan is a perfect example of someone who thrives in a ROWE company. He’s a working musician who works fulltime at Ripple. Something that would likely not be possible elsewhere.
Getting work done is all that matters in a ROWE, which allows Bryan to work from home, in a recording studio, or even when he goes out on tour. Speaking of… he’s currently out on tour with American Reggae artist and Jewish rapper Matisyahu. Yes, that’s an official Wikipedia description for those of you who don’t travel in Jewish Reggae/Rap circles. Bryan will be providing cello for a special acoustic tour that will take him as far west as Texas, and as far north as New York.
We often talk about this at our weekly meetings when discussing new business, but don’t often get a chance to explain to prospective clients why finding companies with similar office cultures and ethics is so important to us. And it is, as our current (and former) clients will attest to.
When we first meet a prospective client, it’s usually at their place of business. That’s where we tell them about what makes our service unique (unlimited service, redundant backup systems, a “humans first” approach to support). But the conversation isn’t limited to what Ripple can do for them. It’s also our time to interview them; to find out whether or not the business relationship will be a good fit.
If you haven’t seen, Pardot was awarded the Best Workplace in Atlanta by the AJC last week. It was no fluke – they earned it.
I have known David Cummings (one of the Pardot co-founders) since 2007. I’ve watched as he built – with great discipline, the culture that makes Pardot such a great place to work.
At work, Ripplers are ass-kicking experts helping people with their IT problems. But outside the office, we’re musicians, parents, filmmakers, and more. Being in a ROWE company, we manage our own time, work where we want to, and are treated like adults. It’s a philosophy that requires us to communicate a lot with one another. So, we tend to know more about each other’s families, hobbies, and goals than the average coworker. And that’s without having to dig through any social networks. We know Curt spends a good amount of time at the gym, Alfredo can spin on his head, and Bryan Gibson is a killer cellist.
In June of 2010, I was asked by the ROWE honchos at GoROWE to write on their blog a little bit of how Ripple became a ROWE. Here’s what I said…
Let me put this out there: I am a Work Utopia guy. I want people to come to work and feel like it’s more than a job. I want them to feel a deeper sense of meaning, connectedness, and engagement. I have implemented many, many ideas that would help make Ripple a Work Utopia. So when I read about ROWE in 2006 I was struck by how Work Utopia it was. Complete freedom! A Results-Only Work Environment. How much more Work Utopia could something be, really? Even with a Work Utopia mindset I still struggled with the perceived loss of control. I wondered: “How the hell could that even work?” continue reading
“I need them here so I can keep an eye on them, make sure they’re working and not stealing from me.”
We hear this occasionally from small business owners when we are discussing VPN or other remote access capabilities for their employees. We went through this same discussion internally years ago. At some point we realized that if we have to worry about our employees actually working, or worse, stealing from us, we’ve hired the wrong people, or we haven’t defined our expected results, or probably both.
The ones who are asking for remote access are the ones who want to work, and want to be able to work while they’re waiting for the doctor, or even more likely, when they’re at one of our clients. Our experience taught us to define the expected results, give people the tools they need, and let them succeed. Or let them fail and send them on their way. But we don’t build roadblocks.
Our founder, Mike Landman, wrote a nifty bit about our experience with mobility for Smart Business Magazine. Head here to read it.