As Jeff Landry was riding the elevator up to ID Plans headquarters on a recent morning, two other passengers were also on board and heading into work.
Although Landry was certainly aware that many people dread going back to work after the weekend, he was a bit taken aback when he heard the woman’s complaints and saw her coworker nodding in agreement.
That’s because Landry, CEO of ID Plans, is a proponent of what’s known in the HR world as ROWE – Results-Only Work Environment. The concept is pretty simple – employees are paid based on results rather than the number of hours they work. Companies like ID Plans that have implemented ROWE report myriad benefits – higher morale, decreased turnover, and increased productivity, to name a few. But perhaps best of all, ROWE promotes happiness among employees, meaning Landry doesn’t have to hear anyone on his team lamenting the arrival of “another Monday.”
We decided to sit down and talk with Landry about why he’s such a firm believer in ROWE, how it works at his company, and what role it will play in the future.
JL – I thought she was living in the past. I could see that she looks at her work life and her personal life as two separate things, and it really shouldn’t be that way. You hear a lot of people talking about “work-life balance,” and I would argue that there should just be “life balance.” Work is a part of life and it should bring you enjoyment and fulfillment, and it should even be fun sometimes.
JL – Initially, we had to implement it out of necessity because we have employees across the country, and we had to trust them to do their jobs without being supervised. We started small. The first set of people to work remotely were our field teams, the people who go out to the sites to gather the information our technology team needs to create our products. The second round was our processing team, which was predominantly moms who were allowed to work from home full-time. They did extremely well and they were more productive than they would be in the office. I mean, think about how much time is wasted in driving into the office, the excessive talking that can go on in the workplace, and all the other unproductive things associated with 9-5 work. It just made sense to move to this model.
JL – Well, because of the early trials we did, we knew the model would work so we kept going. We brought in an HR director who was an expert in ROWE and he helped us implement it even further and change the culture from a 9-5 to a ROWE culture. One of the things I learned is that when you have a remote workforce, it’s so important to keep them connected to the company. Our HR director implemented weekly one-on-ones with our remote employees and their supervisors to make sure they stay fulfilled and engaged.
JL – I always thought everyone should have the same access to this type of work environment so I didn’t want to limit ROWE to only our remote workforce. At headquarters, most of us come in a few days a week and work at home a few days. This way we have time to connect and interface with one another and we also get our productive time working at home. It’s a really great balance for our employees.
JL – Without technology, none of this would be possible. I cofounded ID Plans 20 years ago, and over the years, we’ve implemented so many different technologies that make it easier for our team to work remotely. Email is a big one. Social media. Networks like Yammer that allow our employees to communicate. Also, file storage applications like SharePoint and Dropbox allow teams to collaborate, and cloud services have been very important tools for us.
JL – Productivity and employee satisfaction is high, turnover is low, and we continue to be profitable. Those are great indicators this model is working. Plus, there’s such a positive culture that develops when you empower and trust people. The employees love it. There’s not a lot of tension. People aren’t spending time worrying about what the person next to them is doing because if you’re not producing, the chances are good you’ll get pushed out. Not necessarily that you’d get laid off, but if you’re not producing, you’d be able to tell pretty quickly this isn’t the right environment for you.
JL – I recommend talking to other people who have implemented it and start small. Do one little task like having employees work from home one day a week and see how it goes. There are definitely some people who can thrive in this type of environment and some who can’t, but I really do think the best balance we’ve found is a few days in the office and a few days out. It’s a win-win for everyone.
JL – I think it’s going to become the standard. That’s part of why we’re seeing trends like coworking spaces becoming more popular – the need for traditional office space is shrinking. I really don’t see a reason why ROWE can’t be implemented everywhere. It’s definitely made a world of difference for us.
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