Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) involves a cultural shift away from managing by the 40-hour workweek and toward giving employees more autonomy and control about where, when, and how long they work. Thus, employees are evaluated on the basis of the results they have achieved rather than how many hours they have logged on the job. The focus is on achieving mutually contracted, clear work goals such that employees take ownership of their work and responsibility for its outcome. (88)

While this type of flexibility may not be practical in all circumstances (retail employees, for example, must be present in the store in order to do their job), those for whom it is possible may find that ROWE is perhaps the ultimate form of workplace flexibility.


One employee described his feelings about ROWE this way: "It takes a lot of responsibility but I like it. And I love the fact that this program allows me to live my life the way I do. So, I just make sure I'm doing the best job that I can do for this company because I never want to lose this." (88)

Benefits to EmployeeBenefits to EmployerChallenges
  • Allows for flexibility along multiple dimensions by permitting workers to choose when, where, and for how long they work, as long as they are sufficiently productive. (26)
  • In an organization that implemented ROWE, there was a "35% increase in productivity over a six-nine-month period for those units implementing ROWE. And, in three divisions studied by CultureRx [the authors of ROWE], voluntary turnover had dropped between 52% and 90%. (88)
For major cultural changes such as ROWE, people's core beliefs and behaviors need to change. They need to think in a different way. Trust must be established. Employees may be fearful or skeptical. Managers may be resistant. Much groundwork, including training for all involved, must be accomplished prior to implementing ROWE. The business case must be made; best practices discovered. It is probably best to experiment with small groups, re-assess, and revise before moving forward. (88)