Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another Take on Measuring Results

Good telecommuting programs require managers who are comfortable measuring how much you do, not how much you're there. This post, from the Mavericks @ Work blog, really hits that nail on the head, if you ask me. It's not specifically focused on telecommuting, but it speaks to this idea that when you give people the freedom to accomplish work in whatever time frame and location suits them and the work best, that's a good thing.

They write about the Results Only Work Environment that BestBuy implemented at their corporate HQ. I like this:

"...the program attacks head-on what most “alternative work arrangements” only tip-toe around: the fact that we’re literally laboring under a myth (namely, time put in + physical presence + elbow grease = RESULTS). Our assumptions about how work works, where we work, and when we work are relics of the industrial age....The basic principle: people can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Period. You can come in at 2pm on Tuesday. Leave at 3pm on Friday. Go grocery shopping at 10am on Wednesday. Take a nap or go to the movies anytime. Do your work while following your favorite band around the country."
But wait, there's more:

"The results have been spectacular: an average 35% boost in productivity in divisions working in ROWE and a decrease in voluntary turnover by 52-90% depending on department. (Interestingly, involuntary turnover increased among ROWE workers—while it might seem like slacker paradise, shirkers have no place to hide when the only measure of work is results. What’s more, as the number of meetings fell, collaboration and teamwork improved.)"
Yes, I know it's only one workplace, and we were just giving another study a hard time for only looking at one workplace, but this illustrates the shift that is going on here. For knowledge workers, where they are is not as important as what they're able to do from there.

Beyond workers, for managers of knowledge workers, it means that you need to have a good handle on what the company should actually be doing and know who's actually doing it. It means you have to stay in touch with people and really understand what they're up to.

And you can't do that kind of management by assuming that if you can see people in the office they're working.

No comments: