Is a ROWE Right for You? 3 Questions With Michael Reynolds of SpinWeb

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I recently had the opportunity to ask Michael Reynolds, a CultureRx consultant and the president and CEO of SpinWeb, a few questions about ROWE, or a results-only work environment. SpinWeb was the first company in Indianapolis to enact a ROWE, and Reynolds saw employee productivity double since embracing its principles. "This completely throws time out the window and measures people completely on productivity," he said in an interview last year.

Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler of CultureRx originally created the ROWE initiative for Best Buy; the concept has since spread to 40 companies in the U.S. as of August 2011. "We basically looked at each other and said, 'The way that work is happening today is broken. We need to change the game,'" said Ressler.

Three Questions With Michael Reynolds

1. Studies show that a ROWE boosts productivity and improves employee health/happiness. Many "old-school" managers, however, prefer to have their team in-house for the full workday, whether it's due to office culture, a sense of community or a lack of trust. How do you help these leaders adopt ROWE?

Ha! That's a complicated question. The short answer is, we provide training that helps them understand how to start seeing their workplace culture differently. Usually by helping leader[s] "work backwards" through various "what-if" scenarios, we can help alleviate their concerns.

2. What communication practices do you use at SpinWeb (or elsewhere) to keep teams in the loop? How do you coordinate meetings, feedback sessions or other regularly scheduled chats?

We try to honor the right context for the communication. For example, we know that shooting quick question[s] back and forth can usually be done via Skype. A longer answer should be an email. A short brainstorming conversation or more complex question should be a phone call. Creative work is best in person.

3. How do you prefer to onboard new employees in a ROWE? Do you recommend core training hours, or let the employee start off in a ROWE straightaway?

We are 100 percent ROWE, so we throw new employees in :) CultureRx offers online training videos, which we encourage our employees to watch.

More on ROWE

If you'd like to implement a ROWE at your company, CultureRx offers training courses, leadership workshops, pilot programs and full-blown company transformations. Get your feet wet by checking out the following CultureRx resources: