General Discussion

ROWE (Results Only Work Environment)
lastcall at 2:37PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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While browsing in the bookstore the other day, I found a very interesting book: “Work Sucks and How to Fix It.” At first I thought it would be a book complaining about how bad work is. But I discovered that the book explains ROWE, or Results Only Work Environment. The idea was developed by a 24-year-old new employee at Best Buy.

The idea is simple: Each employee is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. The book explained that since the Industrial Age, we have been working a 9 to 5 schedule, and due to technological advances and the like, that 8-hour schedule simply doesn't work anymore. ROWE is a completely new way of business thinking. Employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number hours worked. The goal is to keep workers who deliver results while firing those who are not productive. …The Best Buy Corporate Headquarters has been doing ROWE for a couple of years now and their productivity has increased 41%, and the rate of terminations has decreased 90%!

I think this is a really neat idea. If my company did this, I would be able to go home around 2pm every day, the way I work. I really wish more companies would give this a try!

ROWE official website
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:28PM
lba at 2:48PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Kind of sounds like per-product pay like how industrial workers get paid. You put out 80 cogs at a dollar a cog, you get paid $80. Not exactly a revolutionary idea in the industrial manufacturing world.

Personally, I'm not sure I'd like this. I tend to work on things in short bursts which means I do more things during a day, but tend to finish things over multiple days. Going by what you've described, I'd be canned within a week when they don't see anything getting done because I'm doing more projects at a slower pace for each. They all get done in the same amount or less of time that it would take for someone who works on one project at a time, but you wouldn't see me completing anything right off the bat like you would with the other person.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
HippieVan at 3:04PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Wouldn't this result in people who took their time on things and did them well getting fired, while people who just rush through everything and don't care if they've done a crappy job get to keep working?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:49PM
Hakoshen at 3:08PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Hippie Van
Wouldn't this result in people who took their time on things and did them well getting fired, while people who just rush through everything and don't care if they've done a crappy job get to keep working?

Guess there'd have to be modifiers for quality.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:40PM
HippieVan at 3:32PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Hakoshen
Hippie Van
Wouldn't this result in people who took their time on things and did them well getting fired, while people who just rush through everything and don't care if they've done a crappy job get to keep working?

Guess there'd have to be modifiers for quality.

But then they'd likely end up asking for the (almost) impossible…do a good job, and do it very quickly or we'll fire you for someone else. Resulting, I think, in a much more stressful workplace.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:49PM
usedbooks at 3:48PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Sort of depends on the job doesn't it?

A receptionist or security guard don't exactly have a “productivity-centered” job. They have to be there for so many hours a day regardless of how busy they are – and it wouldn't be fair to penalize a security guard because he didn't have any ne'er-do-wells to stop that day or a receptionist for days when the phone doesn't ring as much…

Some jobs are done on commission (like art or programming jobs) rather than by hour. I don't think it's revolutionary in that respect. I think some programmers do get paid by the hour. It's almost a personal preference.

In other jobs, it would work that way (and often does). Jobs on a salary often allow for people to get done what they need to do and go home or even take their work home if they want. They are usually working under an assumed number of hours (to qualify it as full-time) but don't clock in/out or anything.

Iba
Kind of sounds like per-product pay like how industrial workers get paid. You put out 80 cogs at a dollar a cog, you get paid $80. Not exactly a revolutionary idea in the industrial manufacturing world.
True, and as I recall, it was deemed unconstitutional. It caused quite a lot of grief for people. In industrial work, it really is a step backwards.

In short, I don't think it's a *new* idea. It seems like the guy renamed an old idea and applied it to a different field.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:37PM
lastcall at 4:08PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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Hippie Van
But then they'd likely end up asking for the (almost) impossible…do a good job, and do it very quickly or we'll fire you for someone else. Resulting, I think, in a much more stressful workplace.

This is exactly what they do where I work, which is probably why at least one person a week quits (or gets fired).
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:28PM
lba at 4:41PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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usedbooks
Iba
Kind of sounds like per-product pay like how industrial workers get paid. You put out 80 cogs at a dollar a cog, you get paid $80. Not exactly a revolutionary idea in the industrial manufacturing world.
True, and as I recall, it was deemed unconstitutional. It caused quite a lot of grief for people. In industrial work, it really is a step backwards.

In short, I don't think it's a *new* idea. It seems like the guy renamed an old idea and applied it to a different field.

I don't know about the unconstitutional bit. I know it still gets used in a lot of the foundries and mills where they get pain a certain amount for every mold they produce or the number of good quality pours they make. Some industrial jobs it's just a way of ensuring quality since if you don't make quality stuff you end up redoing it and that means extra time. So you force the workforce to make sure they get it right the first time around.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
usedbooks at 5:02PM, Feb. 27, 2009
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lba
I don't know about the unconstitutional bit. I know it still gets used in a lot of the foundries and mills where they get pain a certain amount for every mold they produce or the number of good quality pours they make. Some industrial jobs it's just a way of ensuring quality since if you don't make quality stuff you end up redoing it and that means extra time. So you force the workforce to make sure they get it right the first time around.
I can't remember the case. (I was in a class about the constitution and we looked at a lot of old supreme court cases.)

It was in a specific instance, of course, and a long time ago. – Where the pieces being made took much more time to make than the prices being paid per piece, so it equated to considerably less than minimum wage.

It's hard to evaluate minimum wage when paying by the piece. I think people were using it to get around minimum wage laws back then.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:37PM
DAJB at 2:25AM, March 1, 2009
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Sounds like a new-fangled title for the old “management by objectives” philosophy that became all the rage in the 1970s. By the 1980s that led to objectives being set for all sorts of jobs for which “measurable results” were clearly counter-productive (many administrative/clerical jobs, public services such as teachers and nurses etc). Those professions are still forced to put their measurable targets before the real needs of their patients/pupils/clients.

I'd say for many, many people the “results only” work environment has been a reality for a long, long time and - far from freeing up workers' time and leading to greater efficiency - has resulted in a deterioration in service quality and increased hours for the workers concerned.

We don't need another book with a fancy acronym to feed us the same old fiction that “results oriented” workplaces are a good idea. We need a management theorist with the courage to buck the trend and expose this for the lie it is.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM

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