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5 Ways a ROWE Can Supercharge Office Productivity

5 Ways a ROWE Can Supercharge Office Productivity

    A results-only work environment, often shortened to ROWE, may be the secret to supercharging productivity in your office. This management strategy was originally developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson for Best Buy; the two have since formed the CultureRx consulting group to help U.S. businesses transition to a ROWE.

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    As its name suggests, a ROWE focuses solely on results or output, not time spent at the office. This strategy is a bit different than telecommuting, flex time or working from home in that ROWE employees essentially have free rein to do as they please — so long as they complete their duties capably and in a timely fashion. That means traditional ideas of core hours, vacation time and sick days are all thrown out the window.

    Here are five ways instituting a ROWE can boost your team’s productivity.

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    1. Employees schedule vacations more thoughtfully

    Because a ROWE doesn’t require employees to get vacation blocks approved, they’re incentivized to take time off as their workload allows. “When you consider when you can best take vacation as opposed to when you must, you end up able to take time without affecting performance,” said Consumer Marketing vice president Michael Mahoney in an interview with Fast Company.

    2. Naturally eliminate unnecessary meetings

    In 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that U.S. businesses waste $37 billion annually on unnecessary meetings. Nothing eradicates such meetings faster than in a ROWE, where employees simply won’t show up if a meeting doesn’t help them complete their objectives. Michael Reynolds, president and CEO of SpinWeb, said that making meetings optional forced his team to essentially justify the purpose of and goals for each meeting with a clear agenda, instantly making them more effective.

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    3. Increased employee engagement and retention

    CultureRx reports that its ROWE teams have up to a 90 percent decrease in voluntary turnover rates. Businesses with high turnover rates must constantly expend resources on hiring and training new employees, which hampers efficiency. Engaged employees are not only less likely to leave their jobs, they’re also far more likely to produce good work efficiently and consistently than disengaged workers.

    4. Reduced employee stress

    Nothing sinks productivity faster than excessive stress. A study published in the December 2011 Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that employees who worked in a ROWE got over an hour extra of sleep each work night and reported less stress, fewer conflicts between work and family, and decreased psychological distress and other emotional signs of burnout. When employees are happy and healthy, they can focus on doing their best work.

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    5. Forces clear communication

    Managers and employees alike must clearly communicate priorities, expectations and objectives to sustain day-to-day business in a results-focused office with optional meetings. Managers must also trust employees to spend their time wisely and outline clear consequences for missed goals or project milestones. These communication measures naturally promote efficiency by eliminating wasted work due to misunderstanding.

    A ROWE may not make sense for every industry or business. For many traditional offices, however, this breakthrough model can unlock unparalleled levels of team productivity, employee engagement and organizational efficiency.

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    (Photo credit: Business meeting in an office via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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