Why work sucks and how to fix it

Why work sucks and how to fix it

Are you treated like children?

You go to work and give everything you have – and you are treated like children who, if left unattended, will steal candy. You go to work and watch someone who isn’t very good at their job get promoted because they got in earlier and stayed later than anyone else. You go to work and sit through overlong, over-staffed meetings to talk about the next overlong, over-staffed meeting. You see talented, competent, productive people get penalised for having kids, for not being good at office politics, for being a little different.

Ditch the mindset

If any of this resonates with you, then you are by definition an employee – and the organisation you work for holds outdated beliefs about work based on assumptions that do not apply in today’s 24/7 economy. This is the message in Why Work Sucks – and how to fix it, by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, who claim that there has to be a better way. This better way is only possible when we change our focus from hours to outcomes when we ditch our traditional Monday through Friday, 9-5 mindset. The 40-hour work week, say the authors, is outdated and outmoded.

ROWE

The authors developed a radical workplace experiment known as ROWE – Results-Only Work Environment, where you control when, where, and how long you work. As long as you meet your objectives, the way you spend your time is entirely up to you. Work is no longer a place you go to. It is a thing you do. ROWE has no mandatory meetings or fixed schedules, you stop doing any activity that wastes time, no one criticizes you for “leaving early” or “coming in late,” and if you do your best work at midnight or on Sundays, that’s fine.

Guerrilla HR bomb throwers

In case you are tempted to regard ROWE as a utopian fantasy, be aware that it is already a reality at the Minneapolis headquarters of consumer electronics chain Best Buy. According to the authors, ROWE not only makes employees happier but also delivers better results. Businessweek describes the authors as guerrilla HR bomb throwers. Intuitively, the idea of treating employees like grown-ups sounds great. After all, freelancers and salespeople already use ROWE principles in their work. No one can seriously doubt that an incredible amount of time and energy is wasted at work. What the book lacks is a systematic description of how ROWE works in practice. But the book is sure to add to the debate about the way we structure work and the workplace.

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