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  • The Realities of ROWE

    Man in Office photo from ShutterstockThere are pros and cons to working in a ROWE. Where ROWE means Results Only Work Environment.

    • One pro is… You know exactly what is expected.
    • One con is… You know exactly what is expected.

    This is meant to be flippant in that it forces both the buyer and the seller of ROWE services to set clear expectations.

    This is not an indictment of the concept or the execution of Results Only Work Environments. They can and do work. In fact, ROWE’s have been in existence for thousands of years. Where specific products and services have been brought to market and offered for sale or barter with others offering their products and services.

    The timing for the rise of ROWE is appealing in today’s business environment. Partially because businesses are expecting more from everyone and everything. Resources are becoming scarce – including people. There is a need to find the right person that has the right skills and, as always, at the right price. The people that fill these roles become contractors that work in a ROWE model. The good news is that these ROWE contractors are going to come from different generations of workers.

    ROWE is cross generational

    Smart business people are looking across generations to find the skills and experiences they need to accomplish specific tasks. This does not necessarily mean the cheapest. There are experts in every generation that know how to do things better, faster and not always cheaper. There is the old adage that has been espoused for many years — whether it’s for a carpenter or computer software. It’s both funny and telling.

    Do you want it… Fast, Cheap or Right? Pick Two!

    As Millennials are entering the workforce and learning to navigate the corporate machine they will be on both sides of these hiring situations. They will need to be able to communicate cross-generationally and to be able to crisply define expectations and timelines. The people that can do this effectively will find great success in a ROWE. Which will help them personally and professionally as they build peer and cross-generational relationships. In a previous post I wrote about Succeeding in a Results Only Work Environment where I mentioned ROWE needs to embrace Gen X, Y and Z. The people that take the time to hone their cross-generational communication skills will be well positioned to grow their business, extend their relationships and stand out in their career.

    Of course, these are some of the same skills that every business has had to manage over the decades. However, it’s becoming more acute in this day and age as the traditional models of climbing the corporate ladder are being dismantled.

    ROWE has grown up (and gone corporate)

    The big difference in today’s ROWE compared to those of a few decades (and millenia) ago is that today there is a much more litigious aspect. In the past if you promised something and didn’t deliver the word got out and you were out of business. The community would drum you out. In today’s ROWE a similar thing happens in the way a community can impact the business, but on a broader scale with the use of Social Media. This is why it’s imperative to understand and use Social Media tools. Both as a hiring manager and as a ROWE contractor knowing how to communicate across Social Media channels will be critical for finding projects, maintaining relationships and keeping everything on a professional level. Also, in the modern ROWE there will often be contracts, NDA’s and other legal agreements. Be ready for them, but the smart businesses won’t let the legal aspects over-burden the ROWE process.

    Be careful what you wish for

    You just might get it. And, only it. The pros and cons and modern realities of ROWE’s means that communications need to be crisp and well defined. That ROWE contractors will come from every generation. And, that when possible try to keep the legal eagles at arms distance. Not because the legal aspects are bad, but because they can slow things down and ultimately may cause the prices to rise. Which might obviate the value of the ROWE process.

    The realities of a ROWE is that they can and do work. In the future, most of us will not have a choice on whether we choose to work in a ROWE. And, that’s Ok. when done right the pros can far outweigh the cons and everyone can win in a well executed ROWE. So, let’s get started and build up our ROWE skills.

    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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