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on June 3, 2008
I can not recommend this book highly enough.

Cali and Jody have a done a wonderful job of sharing with us what the "work environment" should and can be.

I had the good fortune of starting my own consulting/training at 25. My three partners and I grew the company to 180 employees. Like in Cali and Jody's Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), a key was TRUST. My partners and I trusted each other, we trusted our employees, and our employees trusted us and each other. Everyone worked hard, had fun, and, for the most part, thrived professionally and personally. We were a family.

At the beginning of the book I thought a ROWE sounded wonderful, could work in small entrepreneurial organizations, but I was skeptical a ROWE could develop in larger organizations. As I progressed though the book my skepticism diminished.

Cali and Jody clearly state their case;
* the importance of RESULTS over time worked
* the impact of negative comments, aka SLUDGE
* the 13 GUIDEPOSTS that make a ROWE
* stories and insights from Best Buy employees working in a ROWE.

You owe it to yourself, your coworkers, company and family to read this book. I suggest you read it with a "why not" attitude. You may want to read it quickly, think about it for a week or two assimilating the benefits of a ROWE and then read it again when the concept seems less radical.

As Jody and Cali point out, a ROWE can't be mandated from the top down, it comes from the bottom up and grows organically throughout an organization. You could be the Jody and Cali in your organization.
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on June 15, 2008
Solid concept, well-written in an entertaining style, but the content is pretty straight-forward and could have easily been 25 pages versus 180 pages. For those from the traditional workplace, you'll find fear and reassurance alternately as you make your way through the stories of the ROWE environment. Ultimately, the book provides emotional reassurance to people ready to take up the mantle of this new style.
The book is simply 'Work wherever, whenever and however you want as long as you produce the desired results. The hardest part being Sludge, the desire to judge co-workers by how long or how much they are in the office working.
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VINE VOICEon August 3, 2008
I've seen a number of reviews that say, in a nutshell, "The book doesn't tell me HOW to do this". This book was not meant to tell you how -- it was meant to get you thinking, talking, sharing and collaborating with your co-workers and management to take action in your workplace. The authors are giving you ideas; it is up to you to get the dialog flowing with co-workers and management. ROWE is not something that happens overnight, it is something that develops. ROWE is a perfect example of "bottom-up" change; time has shown again and again some of the worst, most ineffective change, comes from the top-down.

Having said all that, after reading the book (and visiting their blog) I ended up ordering 8 additional copies of the book. I'm lending them to co-workers, and even upper management, for them to read. I'm not influencing them whatsoever, but simply state they are free to read the book and form their own opinions.

Guess what? So far, the ideas and discussions are flowing non-stop!

A good deal of us work in jobs where we put in "face time". We all know people who got promoted because of face time and not because of results. We are entering a period where the global economy and the fast pace of change in the world are not going to let companies get by with this. Why? Because the new generation of workers (Gen X and Gen Y) aren't going to put up with it. They will simply leave for greener grounds.

As a company, you can either be scared of what is happening and do nothing and go out of business, or you can adapt to the change and not only survive -- but THRIVE. ROWE is one of those changes. It won't be easy, and some of the "good ol' boys" will no doubt be the first ones out of the door -- but in the end it will make your company better, and your employees dedicated and productive like you wouldn't believe.

As an employee, you can see how good things can be. You can see why you don't need to BEG for an hour off to see your kid's soccer game. You don't have to feel guilty for staying home with your spouse and having a relaxing day off. You don't have to make up excuses for being 1 minute late and getting talked-to by the boss, despite the fact you added more to the bottom line than anyone else.

In short -- ROWE rewards the employee for producing and it rewards the company for giving their employees the freedom to work!

This book will walk you through examples from Best Buy; introduce you to actual people who are enjoying the environment; and tell you about the good and bade side of ROWE -- yes, some people will be terminated, because, quite frankly, they shouldn't be in the company to begin with.

It's a wonderful book that will open your mind to what can happen when you trust your employees. I have high hopes it becomes the new "Employee Manual" of the 21st century.
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on June 9, 2008
Best Buy's journey to a Results-Only Work Environment is a provactive real-life story that shatters our assumptions about how work gets done (assumptions that might have made sense for an industrial-age workplace, BUT not today's knowledge-based economy). Ressler and Thompson make the case with humor by showing us how ingrained and outdated some of our work notions are and they provide powerful stories from Best Buy employees about how their lives, both professionally and personally, improved dramatically under ROWE. But that's not where the story ends. Not only did employees' lives improve, but so did Best Buy's bottom line (through increased productivity and retention).

At the end of the day ROWE is not a corporate program or package, but an effort to challenge our notions through "Eradicating Sludge" (as Ressler and Thompson fondly call it). Many companies have taken small-steps to address the challenges of the 21st century workplace (experiments with telecommuting, flexible work hours, etc.). This is the story of a quantum leap to where the workplace needs to be. A place where all businesses will ultimately be when our old notions of work are shattered. Best Buy shows that companies that lead this transition have lots to gain!
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VINE VOICEon December 21, 2008
For advocates of such a profoundly significant -- and potentially liberating -- change in the way we do business, authors Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson have produced a book that I found, frankly, not nearly as exciting as the idea itself. Certainly given that blurbs from Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (an author, and a book, I much admire) are prominently displayed on front and back dust-jacket covers, I had hoped "Why Work Sucks..." would display some of the energizing, inspiring prose style that makes Ferriss' book so memorable. Sadly, it doesn't.

But then, maybe it shouldn't. After all, "The 4-Hour Workweek" is trying to persuade individuals to break out on their own, transforming their approach to "work" -- and therefore to life. "Why Work Sucks..." on the other hand advocates what Garet Garrett, in a very different context, called "a revolution within the form": continuing to work for someone else, but utterly transforming how that company relates to employees. Given that bosses will be freaked-out enough by the thought of a "Results-Only Work Environment" as it is, these authors' restrained, even somewhat jargony, approach to advocating revolution perhaps makes more sense.

There's at least one other area in which "Why Work Sucks..." brought Tim Ferriss' book to mind for me: the way in which it skips over, or shortchanges discussion of, one of the central points of implementation. In Ferriss' case, it's the question of how exactly you set up and get running the largely self-sustaining business that funds your life among the new rich. In Ressler and Thompson's case, it's the question of how someone who reads this book can begin making the transition to a ROWE in their own workplace. Certainly, I can think of about a dozen senior leaders at my company or various friends' to whom I'd like to send this book as a Christmas present. But were I to hand one of them their copy and say "Here, let's try this!" I don't imagine all the pages spent addressing "Yeah but..." objections would begin to get them to give this idea serious thought. Then what?

Still, a ROWE is an excellent approach to work arrangements and relationships, one I dearly wish I worked in, and certainly the best approach I've seen recently (why have I been reading so much about fixing what's wrong at work? Hmm.) for people who don't want to bail on the traditional workplace but instead stick around and make it function as it should. The book was a little dissatisfying for me, but the fundamental idea certainly strikes me as very sound indeed.
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on June 24, 2008
The idea is intriguing--eliminate the concept of "face time" from your corporate culture. Treat everyone like grownups.

What was really interesting, but somewhat buried in the book, was the little tidbit that voluntary quits tend to go way down after a workplace implements this concept, but involuntary terminations go up quite a bit.

Not everyone can handle independence, it would seem.
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on November 19, 2008
It is telling that the reviews seem to be of two camps. One side enthusiastically embraces the concept, the other is mired in doubts and resistance. This is essentially the reaction predicted in the book by the authors themselves!

To address two complaints:

First, the book has little in the way of practical details. Of course it has little detail. The book is there to give you an idea and for YOU to implement it. My organization functions in almost no way like Best Buy, yet I was able to come up with how this could apply to my company. People have been questioning "Oh, how in the world will we be able to tell that our employees are getting it done?". Clearly you have no idea at this point, so I don't foresee this changing in a ROWE, either. That is a problem for you, the skilled manager, to figure out! This isn't a book about management skills or productivity measurement. If you're already charged with the oversight of employees, you should ALREADY know how to do this. Frankly, it frightens me that there are so many reviewers who don't know how they would measure the results of their employees' work!

Second, the complaints are about the length of the book and the manner in which it is written. So strong is the backlash that someone even registered a domain name in order to complain! Here's the story: the book isn't for upper-management types because ROWE isn't strictly for upper-management types. You've already gone through years of thoughtlessly churning through employees with your mindset. The change has to come from the employees demanding the change. That's why it was written for that level. It's a bit cheerleader-ish, sure, but excitement generated among large groups of employees will get this done, not convincing a couple of ossified managers. And, the length is a bit much. It would be a "better" read at 25 pages. But, in the book's defense, when is the last time someone handed you a pamphlet that you took seriously? Besides, even after 200 pages it is clear that some readers still don't get it.

In closing, I want to note one thing. As a young manager and employee myself (under 30) I think we had all better get used to this idea. This, or something very similar, is coming along the pike very soon to your company. People my age and younger simply will not tolerate the old way of doing things. You will find yourself unable to locate good workers who are willing to sit in a cubicle for their designated period of time anyway. They'll simply cease to exist. Good young workers know their value and won't compromise until they are happy. Even if you do find a group of good little worker bees to sit in their box during their required times, it will be because they are the ones who aren't good enough to demand more out of their work environment and life. If you think managing results in a ROWE is difficult, try doing it instead with low-skilled and unhappy drones because all of your good employees left for firms that treat them like respected adults and colleagues.
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on June 25, 2008
This book introduces and argues for a new way of organizing work called a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), which is how the job gets done in the corporate headquarters of Best Buy. The authors say that structured schedules and mandatory meetings are a custom that does not help the customer. "In a results only work-environment," they explain, "people can do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done." (Pg 3) The 40-hour work week is a vestige of factory work (when you really did need everyone there at the same time). Face time is often wasted time. With today's technology, there is no need for people to be working at the same time and place.

As an employee, I found the concept incredibly tempting. In a ROWE, there are no work schedules, mandatory meetings, or sarcastic comments when a person is "late". A ROWE combines the advantages of being self employed with the steadiness of a paycheck.

Unfortunately, the book needed more convincing information to explain how management and employees make this happen. How is the work defined? How is the work measured? The book describes an e-learning specialist who followed a rock band he liked and said he got the work done. I'm sure he did. But my experiences with voice mail and e-mail as a substitute for face to face contact are not positive. They are filled with mixups and time spent going back and forth. I wanted more information on how they measured productivity and assured all the work is done.

What happens when the edges between jobs are not well defined? In a ROWE, is there a temptation to do a little less and expect your coworkers to do a little more?

What happens if people became so efficient they can do their job faster than 40 hours? Will managers consider redefining the jobs and paying them part time wages? And if the jobs can be done remotely, why not just ship them overseas?

I was inspired and tempted by the possibility of jobs with a regular paycheck and no regular schedule. But the book failed to provide the backup necessary for the idea to become widespread.
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on July 9, 2008
Even though my work doesn't "suck" since we are already functioning in loose ROWE-type environment, I see many things that go on in the corporate world that just don't make sense any more. This book really calls out many of the idiocies that occur in the current work place. The book is written in a very entertaining and engaging way.

This is a must read for anyone in the "office" world. I think that as "worker bees" we think that change has to come down the ladder. This concept has proven that the bottom-up type revolution is even more powerful. This workforce revolution has been proven by the authors to be driven by the "workers" to increase their happiness but that the Upper Management is also gaining the most by a more productive, happy, and effective workforce. Oh, and their bottom line is growing too.

I personally want as many people to read this book and embrace the concept. The more people understand these concepts, the better the chance is that when my girls enter the workforce they will be allowed to grow in their careers, lives, and find happiness...on their own terms. And I hope that when they hear the phrase "9 to 5", all that they think of is that ancient song by Dolly Parton.
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The author could have found a better title for
the book. A results oriented workplace is
highly desirable. I'm not certain whether or not
every job can be structured to fit the ideas
enunciated herein.

The author describes flex-work, as well as the
judicious use of email to reduce unnecessary
meetings. The book encourages us to minimize
sludge or workplace obstacles.

A theme of the book is to encourage employers
to provide more free time for workers.
Work is not a place to go to daily. The nature
of work is doing or productivity.

The book would help any entrepreneur organize
a new business. The contents could assist
current employers in the area of worker motivation.
A word to the wise is sufficient. Change the book title !
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