Recently, I went on a vacation to a beautiful town, Molyvos, on the Lesvos Island in Greece. Travelling is one of my biggest passions not only because it broadens my horizons and opens up mind but also because it allows me to do enjoy many rewarding activities that I tend to put off while at home in Belgium.
On top of the list of my favorite travelling activities comes reading business, self-improvement, entrepreneurial and management books. This time, I brought along 6 books, which I read over a period of 7 days.
Lucky for me, all the books were enjoyable and some were excellent. Interestingly, two books stood out as they seemed to contradict one another. One of them is called “Why work sucks and how to fix it”. It discusses a very revolutionary concept of replacing the 9-to-5 working system with “Results-Only Work Environment”. The other book, “Delivering happiness”, brags about the author’s success in creating a great 9-to-5 business powered by happy employees through focusing on the company culture.
Why work sucks and how to fix it
A quick summary of this book is quite simple: Traditional work sucks.
Because people (including myself) hate the 9-to-5 lifestyle with its unnecessary meetings, schedules, no freedom, you name it!
The book is based on the simple idea that the worldwide dominant 40-hours, Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 working system is outdated! The author believes that people go to work only to waste their time and their companies time in a system based on the wrong assumptions about how work should get done and how a working environment should look like.
This system allows employees to get promoted for putting in more hours but not necessarily because they deserve career advancement, not to mention overstaffed meetings, office politics…etc.
Proposed solution? ROWE
ROWE – Result-Only Work Environment – is a new human resource management strategy which gives employees full control of the working process.
In a ROWE, employees are free to decide when, where, and how long they work, as long as they meet their overall goals. The way employees spend their time is entirely up to them. There are no mandatory meetings or fixed schedules. “Leaving early” or “coming in late” doesn’t exist in this system since you are even allowed not to show up at all for as long as you wish if you manage to get your work done as expected. In other words, work is no longer attached to a “place” you go but to the “results” you achieve.
The beauty of ROWE is that if you managed to efficiently complete a month’s work in 3 weeks, your boss never needs to know that you’ll be spending the remaining week in Thailand! (Compare that to the 9-to-5 system which rewards you for finishing work faster by giving you more work!)
Studies have shown that people tend to have different peak performance times throughout the day which means that some people may be very unproductive during regular working hours for reasons completely out of their hands!
This book discusses the management philosophy of Tony Hsieh, the founder of LinkExchange which he sold to Microsoft at 24 for $265 million, explaining how he got to become the CEO of Zappos through creating a business model based on “Happiness”.
This book contradicts the ROWE book but it still offers a revolutionary concept. The author is an advocate of motivating his employees to achieve optimal results by focusing on a company culture that nourishes and creates the most fun 9-to-5 workplace to be.
I am definitely on the ROWE side and I strongly believe it’s very doable when it comes to global internet businesses.
But how about location-based businesses? You might argue with me that even schools could adopt this system through e-learning but the same doesn’t apply to a barber shop for example. What I’m trying to say that the nature of some jobs require that the employees are present at their work location. Imagine what would happen if ROWE was applied in hospitals!
In addition, I do have some considerations about the ROWE / Zappos systems that I hope my readers can help me answer:
- Wouldn’t it be a lot more work to manage the employees, since every month you have to determine/guess the value of your new tasks that need to get done?
- I still think that even though there is a great company culture at Zappos and many of its employees love their job, Zappos’ employees will still be wasting their and their company’s time by playing the “presenters” game, while the ROWE employees would be saving their own time as they will be motivated to work efficiently and finish their work before the preset time.
- The 9-to-5 jobs, with a great culture like Zappos’, seem to work nicely for individuals who lack self-discipline and are unable to independently determine how to meet their jobs objectives?
So, dear reader, I hope to gain your insights on these two ideas and feel free to address any questions or concerns you might have as well.
Either way, please make sure to comment! (*cough* People who comment are much cooler than those who don’t *cough*)