Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It

<ed.note>As irony would have it I’m currently undergoing the challenge of rightsizing so I would appreciate you’re passing  any leads for techie (webmastery or tech writingish or suchlike) opportunities in the Nashville MSA (or for anywhere in the off-chance you’re a ROWE employer and you don’t care where I live). Please just send them along to blog@conmergence.com. Thanks in advance.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, the creators of the Results-Only Work Environment, have written a book, Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It, to describe the paradigm which they pioneered at Best Buy. Instead of commenting on the book I’m providing an excerpt from the free sample because it does an excellent job of framing the directions the book discusses. It is foreworded by Brad Anderson, CEO, Best Buy.</ed.note>

This book is based on a simple idea: Our beliefs about work—forty hours, Monday through Friday, eight to five—are outdated, outmoded, out to lunch. Every day people go to work and waste their time, their company’s time, and their lives in a system based on assumptions—about how work gets done and what work looks like—that don’t apply in today’s global, 24/7 economy.

We go to work and give everything we have and are treated like we’re children who, if left unattended, will steal candy.

We go to work and watch someone who isn’t very good at their job get promoted because they got in earlier and stayed later than anyone else. We go to work and sit through overlong, overstaffed meetings to talk about the next overlong, overstaffed meeting.

We see talented, competent, productive people get penalized for having kids, for not being good at office politics, for being a little different. We go to work in the Information Age, but the nature of the workplace hasn’t fundamentally changed since the Industrial Age.

But most of all—most tragically of all—we play the game. We play the game even though we know in our heart of hearts the game doesn’t make any sense.

Why do you think Sunday night is tinged with dread? That is you telling yourself that the way we work is unhealthy. That life isn’t meant to be lived this way. The modern workplace makes people physically and mentally sick, undermines families, and wastes precious time and energy. Everybody knows work sucks and yet we do nothing. If the dismal nature of work weren’t the norm; if our assumptions and expectations about work weren’t so ingrained; if, for example, work were some kind of new disease that suddenly appeared and cost businesses billions and ruined people’s lives, you can bet that we would be marshaling our collective resources to find a cure.

So why doesn’t it change?

Maybe because we assume that work has to be drudgery. (If it were fun it would be play, right?)

Maybe because we have been brought up to believe that by definition work is unproductive, political, and unfair.

Maybe because no one has proposed a reasonable, effective alternative.

Everywhere there are solutions that are not solutions.

The solution is not flextime. Flextime is a joke.

The solution is not work- life balance. Under the current system, balance is impossible.

The answer is not getting better organized, or No-Meeting Wednesdays, or setting your alarm fifteen minutes early to beat the morning rush, or spending a Saturday making all your lunches for the month.

There are no tips or tricks or helpful hints that are going to solve this problem.

There are no answers in the employee handbook.

The only solution is to change the game entirely.

We’re starting a movement that will reshape the way many things in this country, and across the world, get done. We’re offering not a new way of working, but a new way of living. This new way of living is based on the radical idea that you are an adult. It’s based on the radical idea that even though you owe your company your best work, you do not owe them your time or your life. This new way of living is practical and simple (though not necessarily easy), and while it’s a sweeping change from how we live life now, it requires only a basic adjustment in your thinking.

We are talking about a Results-Only Work Environment or ROWE™.

In a Results-Only Work Environment, people can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Many companies say their people can telecommute or work a flexible schedule. But these arrangements often still include core hours, or can be dissolved should business needs change, or are doled out stingily as a perk for the privileged few. In a ROWE, you can literally do what ever you want whenever you want as long as your work is getting done. You have complete control over your life as long as your work gets done.

One Comment

  1. Very well put. If you know of any ROWE employers, fill me in. I’m tired of waking up everyday knowing I’m about to waste 8 hours of my life doing 1-3 hours of actual work.

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