Work When You Want, Where You Want?

It may sound too good to be true, but there are ways to make it work.

ByABC News via logo
June 2, 2008, 7:59 PM

June 3, 2008 — -- Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson created a workplace culture called ROWE, which stands for Results-Only Work Environment. The premise behind ROWE is no schedules, no time clocks, not even a specific place where work must be done, as long as the work gets done.

After two years of pounding the pavement to get ROWE implemented in more workplaces -- it was launched at Best Buy's corporate headquarters in 2003 -- Ressler and Thompson have gotten only one other company to sign on. JA Counter, a Wisconsin investment and benefits management firm, now has its 15 staffers working in ROWE.

So these self-described workplace activists have written a new book, "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It," to make their program accessible to everyone.

Many work-life experts agree that this may very well be the future of work, especially with advances in technology and our individual desires for more control over our time, but when exactly that might happen is the subject of much debate by both employees and their bosses.

After spending several hours last month with Ressler and Thompson, and hearing the hesitations and criticisms among employees and employers alike, these are the ROWE elements that I believe are most applicable to any workplace.

Rethink Your Opinions About Time

Focus on results achieved, not hours worked.

Ban toxic talk known as "sludge."

Even though nearly 80 percent of employers allow at least some workers to change their arrival and departure times on occasion, it's certainly not applicable to everyone. So there's often resentment among those who work more traditional, rigid schedules.

We've all heard that resentment about time play out -- and, admit it, many of us have even participated in it. Comments like, "Oh, coming in at 11 again. Must be nice." or "Oh, leaving at 4 are you? Wish I had your schedule." Those thoughts focus on hours worked, not on results achieved.

Ressler and Thompson call that "sludge." They say it's the toxic talk about the way we work that cripples productivity and morale.