Office Extremes: How Flexible Should Our Work Schedule Be?
The Human Services and Public Health Department of Hennepin County, Minnesota, has taken the idea of a flexible work schedule to its logical extreme:
Hennepin County is practicing what’s called a results-only work environment, or ROWE, which gives everyone in a company the freedom to do their job when and where they want, as long as the work gets done. The state of Minnesota signed a contract for the program last year as part of a campaign to reduce rush hour traffic on 35W in Minneapolis.
This is just clearly a good idea. After all, what could an employer possibly care about beyond results? And in Hennepin County, there is some initial evidence that ROWE has made things much more efficient. They used to have a two-week backlog of public support cases to process. Now that’s down to five days. A ROWE program would also save employers money on everything from printing paper to electricity.
If this seems risky to employers, it’s probably because they feel like they need visual reassurance that people are actually doing work. And if that’s the case, their real problem is not having clearly defined the “results” they care about in the first place.