Tuesday, June 03, 2008

ROWE ("Results Oriented Work Environment") catching on in HR circles

This morning (Tuesday June 3), ABC’s “Good Morning America” and reporter Tori Johnson discussed the concept of “Results Oriented Work Environment” (or “Results Only Work Environment”), with the acronym “ROWE”. This is a workplace practice that stresses end results and allows considerable flexibility to associates in work hours. It often encourages 4-day work weeks (or even 3-day) and telecommuting. It may lead to less business travel. A website by Don Lopper calls it a “business revolution in the making,” link here.

The practice is common with sales jobs, where productivity is measured in meeting quotas and in numbers. But it can also be useful for individual contributors in information technology. Results (we used to call this “management by objectives” back in the 70s) include getting software into quality assurance with minimal user problems, or getting software implemented and supported and meeting standards as to preventing user problems. Although there is a lot of talk about it now, there was discussion of it in the 90s, sometimes along with the concept of “total quality management” or “team handbook.”

One major example of a company using it is Best Buy, headquartered in the Twin Cities area. When I took a course in XML in 2002 at Hennepin County Technical College, I heard a lot about how their retail systems work from another student there.

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