What is one more way to make a professional into a contractor? The ROWE or Results Only Work Environment. Like many things the Professional Individual Contributor has to deal with in their daily routines, the ROWE offers challenges to the PIC with some opportunities for improvement in their world.
First, what is the ROWE. well it’s exactly what the name implies. It’s a workplace situation where the only thing that is measured is the results. Business.com describes it like this:
“ROWE aims to provide that relaxed, comfortable environment – while completely eliminating the customs of a conventional office. In an ideal ROWE workplace, there are no set hours and no required meetings. Employees aren’t even required to come into the office – at all. They have total autonomy over where they work, how they work, and when they work. The only measure of value is the results they deliver.”
Results have to be measured. It’s easy to measure things like how many T-shirts have been sold and at what cost? Or how many man-hours went into the big project. ROWE is pretty much telecommuting on steroids and is a logical extension of the communication enablement of the information age. From a practical standpoint I get where ROWE has come from. I have more Instant Messaging conversations with my co-workers next door in my regular office than I do face to face conversations. So from my own personal experience the idea of an office is a bit archaic. It makes sense that someone would eventually said what’s the point of an office, and if no office, why keep office hours?
The key is the next step. ROWE eliminates tracking hours and tracking vacations, but it also opens the door to no down-time if the ‘results’ you are responsible for require constant engagement.
The most important element of the ROWE is not where it sits today, or even how it relates to the latest workforce legislation. In my opinion the most important aspect of the ROWE is where it sits on the longer term trendline of the relationship between employers and employees. With the introduction of required health care, the rise of the gig economy, and the empowerment of telecommuting, It is really easy to see where ROWE is another step leading to. If your a professional who never has to be in the office, never has to attend meetings you don’t want to, and your metrics are based on outcomes, then what is the point of being an employee at all?
On the positive side, you’ll get more leverage over your employer if you are allowed to have multiple employers at the same time. If one doesn’t treat you right, then you just spend more time with the one you like to deal with. On the negative side, so much for consistency of income, something our entire society is based upon. Not to sure the mortgage companies or car finance companies are going to appreciate an entire economy made up of gigger’s.
To Thrive we are all going to have to learn to save more, live on less, and learn how to sell ourselves and our services. Professional contributors mostly have the skills to succeed in this environment that is looking more and more like an inevitability, but i’m not so sure how the rank and file of our society will do, and if they don’t do well, that will impact everyone.