ROWE is a Success for This Tech Start Up

by Jennifer Miller on September 20, 2012

in Workplace Issues

When Meredith Wood wrote the guest post Giving Employees Freedom to Inspire Creativity she opened up a rich dialog on The People Equation about the benefits of companies who adopt the “ROWE” (Results-Only Work Environment) philosophy.

Meredith works for Funding Gates, an online receivables management platform for small businesses. As a tech start up, Funding Gates founders Jean-Marc Freuler and Ismail Colak were searching for a way to increase employee engagement and productivity. They discovered the philosophy of ROWE, a term made popular by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, authors of the book, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It.

As a follow up to Meredith’s blog post, she and Ismail agreed to be interviewed for The People Equation. They are passionate about this work philosophy and welcomed the chance to help spread the word about its benefits.

What follows are highlights from our conversation:

Jennifer: How does ROWE work at Funding Gates?

Ismail: In essence, ROWE means employees should only be focusing on what is being produced at work. What really matters is the output. We aren’t gauging people’s productivity by their “face time’ – when and how often they show up is irrelevant.

Here’s our philosophy: if there are results and employees are doing their best and coming up with awesome products and results, at that point it doesn’t matter how many hours they spend at work or when they actually came to work.

For example as a ROWE company, it is perfectly okay at Funding Gates to come to work at 2 PM in the afternoon, work for an hour and leave at 3 PM. We trust that employees know what needs to get done and are working for both the best interests of the company and what’s going on in their personal lives.

Jennifer: Did you launch Funding Gates using the ROWE philosophy?

Ismail: No, not initially. The two founders of Funding Gate come from corporate backgrounds. We were disappointed with the way the corporate world operates today. Initially, we didn’t have a formalized way of thinking about how to improve processes. We were searching for a process improvement philosophy, discovered ROWE, and adopted the principles into our business. It has been [in place] about 6 months or so. We started seeing tremendous results.

It is critical for business leaders who want to switch over to ROWE to think critically about what they can do. How much can they commit to switching their corporate policies and principles? It really is a dramatic shift.

Jennifer: Why did you switch to the ROWE philosophy?

Ismail: The reason why we decided to switch was that we were witnessing inefficiencies in our workplace. What we wanted to do was to provide employees with an environment where there is a lot more intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic. This means fostering an environment where there is pride in one’s work. If employees feel that their work is changing the lives of our customers, the businesses or the economy, then as human beings they feel “liberated”. In order to be able to do this, we need to give tremendous flexibility to everyone working with us. Creativity flourishes in this type of environment.

Jennifer: Meredith, as an employee of Funding Gate, what’s your take on ROWE?

I think the idea of freedom has made my work even more productive. It has made me more focused and overall, it has enhanced my personal life as well. I think the biggest challenge of being an employee in a ROWE environment is really believing that it is real – that management is sincere about us working when we want, however we want, as long as the work gets done.

I know [management] doesn’t have to know where I am for every second of the day. I don’t have to tell them I am not coming in or if I am going to be late but there is still that want and need to communicate those things. For many people who have worked in office jobs, we have grown up in an environment where people have always wondered if you are doing your work. It takes time to get rid of that idea that we must always report in.

Jennifer: Where can people learn more about the ROWE philosophy?

Meredith: Try It’s a great resource.

Thanks to Ismail and Meredith for sharing their insights on their ROWE workplace.


Interested in the book? (affiliate link)


Disclosure statement:  It would be a real drag for the Feds to show up and haul me away, so I’m following the rules set forth by the FTC . Some of the links in the above post are affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and purchase the item (looking is free), I will receive a commission. Hey, a girl’s gotta find a way to cover her blogging habit, right?

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