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A results-only work environment (ROWE) is a work approach in which employees are entirely autonomous and responsible for delivering outcomes. This managerial tactic redirects attention from the hours spent at work to the results generated.[citation needed] Leaders mentor performance and oversee the work itself, instead of micromanaging employees' time.[1]

A results-only work environment provides employees with complete autonomy over the timing, location, and methodology of their work. Instead of being bound to a specific workplace or schedule, personnel are responsible for achieving desired outcomes.[2]

A results-only work environment (ROWE) is a modern work culture that rests on the principle that individuals are recruited to produce clear, measurable results.[3] Managers focus on managing the work being accomplished rather than how other people work.[4]


In 2003, Best Buy headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, initiated an innovation experiment called ROWE.[5] Two employees, Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, questioned the effectiveness of their work approach in generating optimal outcomes for both the company and its employees. They aimed to facilitate the employees, enabling the company to attain its desired results.[3]

Some researchers refer to this as a dual agenda.[6]

Claimed advantages[edit]

Certified ROWE organizations report higher productivity, increased revenue, reduced turnover, and more successful recruitment.[2] After achieving ROWE certification, JL Buchanan reported increases in employee engagement, productivity, profits, and top line sales.[7] Early adopters of the ROWE system at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) showed consistently higher employee engagement scores compared to their co-workers as measured by quarterly pulse surveys;[8] ROWE is purportedly the 'number one reason' new employees choose to work there.[9]


Biomarker data (blood pressure, body mass index, a pre-diabetes marker evident in blood, and more[clarification needed]) was collected to create a cardio-metabolic risk score to predict the likelihood of a cardiovascular event.  Employees who had higher risk scores at baseline reduced their risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event by working in a ROWE when compared to a control group of employees not working in a ROWE.[10]

Researchers collected saliva samples to measure cortisol levels before and after a ROWE implementation, and found a positive physiological effect on employees after the implementation.[11] According to a Harvard Business School case study of a large organization, employees stated they "could not imagine returning to the old way of working".[12]

According to eWorkplace, a study conducted in the Twin Cities metro area found that no longer requiring employees to drive to and from the office during rush hour traffic, reduces carbon emissions as well as wear and tear on roads.[13] A Canadian government agency reported reduced gas emissions of 5.3 million kilometers.[9]

Working in a ROWE also assists employees dealing with family crises.[14]

Diversity, equity, and inclusion[edit]

McKinsey & Company recognized the results-only work environment as an example of diversity-enabling infrastructure.[15] CMHC uses all of the data it collects to inform its D&I strategy and create targeted interventions to address pain points. CMHC’s transition to a results-only work environment is an example of this.[16]

Return on investment[edit]

The estimated return on investing in ROWE is 1.68, meaning for every dollar invested, the company saves $1.68, including reduced absenteeism, reduced presenteeism, lower medical costs, and reduced voluntary turnover.[17]

ROWE-certified companies tend to reduce real estate costs by decreasing dedicated work spaces for all employees.[7]


Watt Publishing closed its offices during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Once public health conditions allowed them to re-open their office building, CEO Greg Watt did not change any policies or create complex re-entry plans. Watt reported that the company did not experience any kind of employee rebellion from unhappy employees.[4]

Daniel Pink called ROWE the future of work.[18] In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink recognizes Jody Thompson as one of the six business leaders who offer wise guidance for designing organizations that promote autonomy, mastery, and purpose.[19]


Less than a year into his job, in which he was tasked with turning around a company considered on the brink of bankruptcy, former CEO Hubert Joly said that Best Buy’s program had given employees too much independence.[20]

CMHC reported that employees spend less time socializing with coworkers at the office and that ROWE focused too much on the individual.[21]


  1. ^ Brown, A (May 2013). "Work Redefined". Solutions Journal. 4 (3): 62–64.
  2. ^ a b Weikle, B (20 December 2021). "Forget 9 to 5. These experts say the time has come for the Results-Only Work Environment". CBC Radio.
  3. ^ a b Ressler, C.; Thompson, J. (2013). Why Management Sucks and How To Fix It: A Results-Only Guide to Taking Control of Work, Not People. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 1–3.
  4. ^ a b Newport, Cal (2021-07-09). "How to Achieve Sustainable Remote Work". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  5. ^ "Work When You Want, Where You Want?". ABC News. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2024.
  6. ^ Kelly, E.; Moen, P. (2020). Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 7.
  7. ^ a b Vasel, Kathryn (2019-10-18). "These employers don't care when or where you work | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  8. ^ Thompson, J (2018) The Results-Only Work Environment Case Study, CMHC, CultureRx, Minneapolis, MN.
  9. ^ a b "Home is where the future is". The Canadian Business Quarterly. 2020-08-16. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  10. ^ Berkman, Lisa F., Erin L. Kelly, Leslie B. Hammer, Frank Mierzwa, Todd Bodner, Tay MacNamara, Soomi Lee, Miguel Marino, Thomas W. McDade, Ginger Hanson, Phyllis Moen, and Orfeu M. Buxton.  2019.  “Effects of a Workplace Intervention on Employee Cardiometabolic Risk:  Evidence from the Work, Family, and Health Network.” Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies Working Paper, Cambridge, MA. AND Marino, Miguel, Yi Li, Michael J. Pencina, Ralph B. D’Agostino, Lisa F. Berkman, and Orfeu M. Buxton.  2014. “Quantifying Cardiometabolic Risk Using Modifiable Non-Self-Reported Risk Factors.”  American Journal of Preventive Medicine 47(2): 131-40.
  11. ^ Almeida, David M.; Lee, Soomi; Walter, Kimberly N.; Lawson, Katie M.; Kelly, Erin L.; Buxton, Orfeu M. (2018-03-01). "The effects of a workplace intervention on employees' cortisol awakening response". Community, Work & Family. 21 (2): 151–167. doi:10.1080/13668803.2018.1428172. ISSN 1366-8803. PMC 6075734. PMID 30078991.
  12. ^ Groysberg, B. and Abbott, S. (2019)  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation:  “One CMHC” Version 3.0, Harvard Business School, No. 9-419-068, Cambridge, MA
  13. ^ Humphrey School of Public Affairs, eWorkplace Final Report (2011), SRF No. 0106705 pp. 2, 34
  14. ^ Kelly, Erin L.; Moen, Phyllis (2020-03-17). Overload. Princeton University Press. pp. 165–166. doi:10.1515/9780691200033. ISBN 978-0-691-20003-3.
  15. ^ Devillard, S., Bonin, G., Madgavkar, A., Krishnau, M., Pan, T., Zhang, H., Ng, M. (2019) Women Matter Report, “The present and future of women at work in Canada,” McKinsey & Company, Montreal, Toronto, Mumbai, Boston, p. 62
  16. ^ Devillard, S., Bonin, G., Madgavkar, A., Krishnau, M., Pan, T., Zhang, H., Ng, M. (2019) Women Matter Report, “The present and future of women at work in Canada,” McKinsey & Company, Montreal, Toronto, Mumbai, Boston, p. 73
  17. ^ Barbosa, Carolina; Bray, Jeremy W.; Dowd, William N.; Mills, Michael J.; Moen, Phyllis; Wipfli, Brad; Olson, Ryan; Kelly, Erin L. (September 2015). "Return on Investment of a Work–Family Intervention". Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 57 (9): 943–951. doi:10.1097/jom.0000000000000520. ISSN 1076-2752. PMC 8919475. PMID 26340282.
  18. ^ "The Results Only Work Environment - Eat Sleep Work Repeat". Eat Sleep Work Repeat - Make Work Better. 2018-09-21. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  19. ^ Pink, Dan (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead Books. pp. 195, 199.
  20. ^ McMahon, T. (7 November 2013). "The War on Work Life Balance". MacLean's.
  21. ^ Groysberg, B.; Abbott, S. (2019). "Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: "One CMHC" Version 3.0."". Harvard Business School - 9-419-068. Cambridge, MA.