In the virtual workplace of the future many high-performing millennials will be empowered by employers to decide when, where and how they work.
These employees will be responsible for setting their own hours, as well as deciding if and when to physically commute to a traditional brick-and-mortar office. That is, assuming one still exists in the decades ahead due to new and evolving technology.
Getting to know ROWE
This modern-day management model is called a “Results-Only Work Environment” or ROWE. Employers that have experimented with ROWE include retail giants Best Buy and The GAP, as well as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Some leading government workplace experts believe that ROWE will be an essential component in competing with the private sector to attract young people to public service.
Mika Cross, an award-winning workplace transformation strategist and work/life thought leader, says:
- “ROWE can position the government to attract and retain the next generation of federal workers who represent the diversity of America and who feel empowered to deliver the results needed to accomplish the mission.”
- “Because they are able to balance the personal demands and priorities that are important to them outside of work, they will be able to bring more focus, discipline and energy to their work.”
In short, ROWE has the potential to be a game changer for the public sector workforce.
Cross, who is also a Presidential Management Council Interagency Fellow, adds:
- “When implemented successfully, ROWE moves beyond simply allowing for telework or a flexible work schedule. Rather, it is all about fostering a performance based work culture that is laser focused on results, productivity and efficiency.”
Performance, Not Presence
ROWE is the brainchild of two smart and savvy private sector consultants: Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They describe ROWE as follows:
- “A management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence.”
- “In a ROWE, people focus on results and only results – increasing the organization’s performance while cultivating the right environment for people to manage all the demands in their lives…including work.”
Unfortunately, many of today’s “old-school” government managers may perceive ROWE as a radical departure from traditional work methods. But so were new ways of working at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
Ultimately, government leaders will face a stark choice: either adopt ROWE to some extent or be left behind playing catch up to the private sector (which is already too common government-wide).
- While ROWE appears promising in theory, will it prove successful in practice?
This is the key question which should be further examined via new pilots at public sector agencies. Like telework, not all employees will be eligible for ROWE. But many others will.
- So why aren’t more government agencies rolling out ROWE pilots?
One key factor hindering progress is the fear of change by intransigent status quo managers. This is already evident with telework and flexible work arrangements at some agencies.
However, what’s indisputable is that revolutionary change is coming to the 21st century workplace whether today’s “old school” government managers like it or not.
Therefore, public sector leaders cannot afford to reject positive change and innovation, such as ROWE, at the expense of meaningful progress. To the contrary, government must embrace the high-tech information revolution to attract a new generation of talent and better serve the public.
Anything less is simply unacceptable and counterproductive.
- What are your views on ROWE?
- Do you think ROWE would be effective in your workplace?
- Would you be willing to participate in a ROWE pilot if offered by your agency?
- Do you think “business as usual” is possible in the virtual workplace?
- What jobs do you think are best and worst suited for ROWE?
Also check out:
- Ready for the Remote Work Revolution? (April 2014)
- Gov Should Resolve to Expand Telework in the New Year (January 2014)
* All views and opinions are those of the author only and not official statements or endorsements of any public sector or private sector employer, organization or related entity.
David Grinberg is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.