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May 23, 2008

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Great stuff. The problem I guess is two-fold:

1) a ROWE workplace is a mortal threat to middle managers. They'll fight it tooth and nail since it kicks out the legs supporting their rationale for existing.

2) I think we'll find that there isn't enough for everyone to do. Most real work is done by machines or by 3rd world labor offshore or in the fields here. Going to meetings and walking around looking harried is what most whitecollar workers and managers describe as "work" now. So we'll have to find a face-saving way to say people are "working"...perhaps we can say they're studying a situation (that would be better than sitting in meetings, so would be a real improvement).

I don't know if I'd say that most "real" work is done by machines, etc., although I would agree that ROWE would certainly shake things up in terms of how we're defining productivity. In a few hours, I could conceivably come up with an idea that saves my company millions. Does this mean that I need to work another 38 hours to "earn my keep"? Or is that result alone worth my salary? I'd argue that time isn't the best measure for evaluating knowledge work, but i's so ingrained for most of us it will be a real challenge to change how we think.

I don't know a whole lot about ROWE, and I was glad to read a bit about it! I have a concern opposite to Logic001's comment: what protects employees from assigned outcomes that can't be achieved with only 40 hours per week? Regarding "out of office," where's the line between "always reachable" and "always working?"

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