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Focus on what needs doing, not where

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Michael Reynolds used to dread snow days because he had to get up extra early and crunch through snow and ice to get to the office.

Back in the day, he would have had at best a “flexible” boss who told the staff they could stay home as long as they worked from 9 to 5. More typical was the grumpy manager annoyed at whomever wasn’t dedicated enough to slog or skid to the job site and clock in.

“Wow,” the web developer says now, “so much drama and anxiety over some beautiful snow!”

Sure, Reynolds has a job that can be done almost anywhere, anytime. But how many of us still control our people using rules that no longer apply?

This past winter during a snowstorm in Indianapolis, Reynolds sat by his fireplace and listened to the mayor urging workers to “leave early” or “stay late” and avoid a crazy rush hour. The whole thing struck him as quaint.

That’s because Reynolds’ company, SpinWeb, is a ROWE, meaning Results-Only Work Environment, which focuses exclusively on what needs to get done, not when or where, as long as it’s done right and on time.

Among his 10 employees, only two went to the office to pick up something. For the rest, the snowy day didn’t mean a thing. Conference calls proceeded, and because the phone system is cloud-based, anyone calling SpinWeb reached a live person who directed calls to the appropriate staffer, same as any other day.

Of course, many jobs involve physical labor or direct customer contact that can’t be handled from afar.

But rethink how you use time—your own, your employees’ and your customers’ time—and you might be ready for ROWE.

— Adapted from “In a ROWE, every day is a snow day,” Michael Reynolds,, and Results-Only Work Environment,

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