Saturday, May 7, 2011

Work Sucks!

I’ve been reading Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution by Cali Ressler & Jody Thompson. You can see it on here.

Ressler and Thompson’s book is "based on a simple idea: Our beliefs about work – forty hours, Monday through Friday, eight to five – are outdated, outmoded, out to lunch. Every day people go to work and waste their time, their company's time, and their lives in a system based on assumptions...that don't apply in today's global, 24/7 economy."

Your company provides a paycheck and other benefits. They provide a job, and in some cases, a career. For that you absolutely owe them hard work, focus and dedication. You owe them real, measurable results. But if you're delivering those results and the company is benefiting, then there is no reason why they have the right to make you sit in a cubicle from eight to five. You owe them your work, not your time. You do not owe them your life.

Ressler and Thompson’s book is about bringing a commonsense, effective, and mutually beneficial approach to living and working. Their solution is the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), a movement to reshape the way things get done. ROWE is not a new way of working, but a new way of living, based on the radical idea that while you owe the company your best work, you do not owe them your time or your life. While it's a sweeping change, it requires only a basic adjustment in thinking: work is not a place you go – it's something you do.

In a ROWE, each person does whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.

In a ROWE, people get paid for a chunk of work, not a chunk of time. ROWE is not about having more time off; fewer hours may be worked, or even longer hours, but they're done on the worker's terms. ROWE is an intense focus on business results.

Ressler and Thompson point out that we labor under the myth that Time + Physical Presence = Results.

This myth applies only to work. Every other life activity – errands, chores (laundry, housekeeping, cooking, mowing the lawn) – is measured in results, not in time expended.

In an information & service economy it doesn't make sense to use time as a measurement for a job well done. Knowledge work requires fluidity, concentration and creativity.

Living our lives under a new set of demands in the knowledge economy, but under the old set of assumptions of the industrial economy, results in frustrated, burned out employees where few people are giving their best. "The fact that we get time wrong in corporate America may seem small, but [it] adds up to big problems both for employee and business.

Flextime isn't the answer either. It's limited (only certain days for certain people), conditional (we'll see how it goes and evaluate) and it's not based on trust (you're not working if you're working from home). Moreover, it's still attached to the traditional and obsolete notion of time as a variable of results.

Giving people complete control over accomplishing their work means completely giving up the old model of work. It means coming up with new methods of measuring performance and judging work. In a ROWE people are paid for outcomes, rather than time; they are paid for "a chunk of work" not a "chunk of time." As long as the work gets done is an absolute. The employer's job is to create “crystal clear” goals and expectations for what needs to get done on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. It's up to the employee to meet those goals, with the coaching and guidance of management. If problems or challenges arise along the way, it's the work – not the hours worked – that comes under scrutiny.

ROWE requires adaptive change of people's underlying attitudes and beliefs change along with their behaviors. Adaptive change is defining the future state in real time. People have a hard time with this. Real change involves loss: the loss of habits, attitudes and beliefs. But if adaptive change is to occur, they must endure the examination of their beliefs and be open to reforming them.

ROWE is TiVo for work. TiVo gives TV viewers control. They watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it. They're not held to schedules or to extraneous content. They have the freedom to watch TV on their own terms. There is no right way or wrong way to watch TV. They learn how to optimize their TV viewing experience. Similarly, ROWE optimizes work.

The right question to ask in a ROWE is "Am I dong what I need to do to meet my goals?"

What do you think? Does work suck? Can a ROWE work with your work? Are you in a ROWE? Does it work for you?

Let me know what you think. Post your thoughts in the comments section.

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