Results-based work environments, also known as results-only work environments (ROWE) aim to increase productivity by giving employees the freedom to work in the manner that suits them best as long as they produce results. The old paradigm of coming in to work at a set time and leaving at a set time hasn’t been the standard for quite some time. Employees regularly have to work long hours, and there is research that shows these long hours may be better spent working from home. The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College notes that this shift represents a dramatic change from the traditional 40-hour work week.

Employee benefits

Employee benefit because they can work in the manner and at the time that suits them best. Not everyone is an early riser, and some of the most creative workers do their best work at night. Employees have more flexibility in how they schedule their day, and this can make them more productive overall. If results-based work is going to become the norm in businesses of the future, employees will need additional training to ensure they are utilizing good time management skills and getting the work done as promised.

Employer benefits

When an organization employs a results-based work program, there is almost always an increase in productivity. Employees are happier and feel a greater sense of loyalty to companies that allow them to take work home with them. Turnover is reduced because employees enjoy their jobs more, and the company tends to get better quality work since employees are focused on results and not simply punching a time card. If results-based work environments are going to work in the future, employers will need to carefully manage their work requests while respecting their employees’ time.

Addressing potential challenges

Companies have varying responses to the launch of a results-based work environment. Silicon Valley startups seem perfectly designed to use a results-based approach to work. Some industries that require daily coordination between teams will never work well in a results-based environment. Managers may also be resistant to the idea of letting employees have free reign of their projects. It’s crucial to establish trust so that both the employees and managers don’t feel like the prospect of a results-based work environment is counter-productive. Business insurance could also be maintained to help cover potential losses as a result of running a results-based work environment.

Both managers and employees could abuse the system. Managers could ask too much of their employees and effectively push them into an overtime status without having to compensate employees for the extra time. Employees who work quickly could finish a project quickly while reporting to management that they are still working on the project. Proper training and program designed to develop trust are essential for this type of work environment to become widely adopted. Resistance is to be expected by upper management, as the case of the Best Buy’s CEO Hubert Joly indicates. He believes that the nature of the results-based work environment prevents the ability to tailor a leadership approach to individual team members.

Effects on work culture

The positive effects of a results-based work environment may provide enough of an incentive for businesses to start employing these programs on a large-scale. There is a belief that the results-based work experience will reduce interaction between employees, and this could negatively affect the effectiveness of the program. Company work culture is an important part of any worker’s identity, and the company suffers when employees no longer have to come into the office on a daily basis. It’s also important to note that some workers who initially loved the freedom of open hours found themselves returning to the workplace to get work done. Proponents of work-based programs note that work culture could be maintained by having regular meetings, mandatory in-office work days and company events.

Sole proprietors who run their own business and provide piecemeal work for employers have found interesting solutions to their problem of not having a work space. Some rent offices by the hour to help them concentrate and focus on the work at hand. Others find gathering at the local coffee shop is a suitable alternative to work. Veronica Wooten, the president and COO of Suntell runs a results-based work program. In the course of three years, productivity has gone up and the company has also seen an increase in customer base. Many other companies are finding the same sort of results. The future appears to have a place for results-based work environments as the practical benefits far outweigh the negatives.

By Lindsey Patterson

About the author

Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who specializes in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management. She also writes about the latest social trends, specifically involving social media. You can follow her on Twitter: @LindseyPatter19