Workplace Trends: Results-only Work Environment (ROWE)

Workplace Trends

For today's workers, flexibility is in fashion.  

From flexible benefits to flexible working environments, companies are starting to offer creative, non-traditional benefits to attract and retain employees. One example is adopting a results-only work environment.  

Here's what you need to know about the ROWE trend.  

What is ROWE? 

ROWE is a work approach in which employees are entirely autonomous and responsible for delivering outcomes.  

A ROWE model shifts the focus from hours worked to results achieved. It provides employees complete autonomy over their work's timing, location, and methodology; instead of being bound to a specific workplace or schedule, employees are responsible for achieving desired outcomes.  

This tactic rests on the principle that companies recruit individuals to produce clear, measurable results. Managers focus on managing the work being accomplished rather than how other people work.  

That said, employees don't need to work certain hours or be in the office if they meet their performance metrics. This model is different from flexible working hours, as there is still an expectation within those environments that employees will work a certain number of hours.  

Pros and cons of ROWE 

A ROWE can deliver tremendous benefits for a company but can also be complicated to execute. ROWE doesn't make the work easier but can make it less stressful.  

Here are a few pros and cons to think about if you are considering ROWE: 


  • Less office space because fewer employees spend time in the office.  
  • Employees use fewer sick days and must take less time off because they can work around appointments, illnesses, and other events. 
  • Employees have more autonomy in their work.  
  • Employees are healthier, happier, and have less work-related stress because they can build work into their lives versus the other way around, creating a better work-life balance. 
  • ROWEs are environmentally friendly, saving employees both energy and commuting expenses.  
  • Companies implementing ROWE see higher productivity, increased revenue, reduced turnover, more successful recruitment, and increased employee engagement.  


  • Lack of collaboration in such a dispersed work environment.  
  • Difficulties in measuring results and accountability  
  • ROWEs can be challenging to manage unless you have an asynchronous collaboration culture. 
  • ROWEs open the possibility for unethical behavior or exploitation of employees to reach their desired results.  
  • ROWEs rely on self-starters with self-discipline and self-motivation, so employees who don't have those traits might fail.  
  • The model doesn't work for all types of roles and companies. For example, it's impossible for consumer-facing fields like customer service or retail.  
  • It can be hard to define success for specific roles, so it can be hard to gauge results.  

Some misconceptions about ROWE are worth addressing. With ROWE, you're still communicating with your team, just not on a fixed schedule. Communication becomes more flexible and intentional. Additionally, just because a ROWE model offers flexibility in working hours doesn't mean you can't stick to a set schedule; if working between 9-5 works for you and your needs, by all means, stick to it. Lastly, in a ROWE, you can still have the same emphasis on connection and social gathering—the only difference is it's not mandatory.  

ROWE in practice 

While ROWEs aren't yet the standard for workplace environments, there are a few companies that have implemented one: 

  • JL Buchanan: The retail consulting firm transformed into a ROWE in 2009 and reports that employee engagement, productivity, and efficiency have increased in addition to profits and top-line sales 
  • WATT Global Media: The content and marketing services company adopted a ROWE in 2012 and found it instrumental in attracting and retaining employees.  
  • Steyer Content. The Washington-based content creation agency started to move toward a "full-ROWE" model in 2022 for its entire back-office team.  

One small step for employees, one giant leap for flexible workplaces 

ROWEs are just one example of flexibility you can implement in a workplace to attract and retain employees. Employers are getting more creative and offering non-traditional benefits, such as convertible PTO, to cater to their employees' unique needs. Learn more about how PTO Exchange can help you add flexible benefits to your benefits program. 

Published on Feb 15, 2024 by Rob Whalen

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