Thursday, 26 January 2012

ROWE for an honest living ?

Cover of "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix I...
Cover via Amazon


The traditional economy of working long hours no longer works in a global economy that does not recognise time zones and deadlines.

MUCH has been written about the number of holidays and company leave days Malaysians have. What is apparent is the effect on productivity. Thus, begs the question: What is true productivity?

A number of columnists have shared their views. Is it true productivity when employees leave late simply because of the following reasons:

> The boss is working late or there is an unwritten code that until the boss leaves, no one else can; and

> The longer you stay at work, even if you are on Facebook, you are a good worker?

Peer pressure is a factor; another are long meetings with no set agenda and goals.

Perhaps Malaysian companies and business owners would do well to look at the US and Europe. Despite their worsening economies, a movement that addresses work-life balance is gaining ground.

Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It, written by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson ( is about creating a results-only work environment (ROWE). Hot on the heels of lifestyle gurus such as Tim Ferris of the 4-Hour Workweek, Ressler and Thompson write about and offer solutions to the never-ending circus of meetings, schedules and clock-ins.

The traditional economy of working long hours from Monday to Friday, and also weekends, no longer works in a global economy that does not “understand” time zones and deadlines.

Home life, chores like doing the laundry, missing the children’s school concert — there has to be a better way to make a living.

You may wonder what is the difference between a flexible work arrangement and a ROWE.

Simply put, with flexi hours the employee needs permission and faces limited options. It is management controlled, requires policies, focusses on time-off, and there is high demand and low control.

ROWE offers the worker the following: No permission is needed and the working boundaries are unlimited. The employee manages his or her KPIs, and this requires accountability and clear goals.

If these are not met, out you go. ROWE focusses on tangible business results and it is high demand with high control.

Employers should view ROWE as beneficial to their businesses. They stop paying people for activities (Facebook anyone?) and start paying for outcomes.

They stop paying people for a chunk of time, and start paying them for their work. The employer must set clear terms of references on what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

“Then it is up to the employee, with the coaching and guidance of the management, to meet those goals. If there are problems along the way, it’s the work that comes under scrutiny,” say the authors.

The big question is whether we Asians can adapt to this.

Asian businessmen and conglomerates have a different view of hard work, discipline and meeting profit margins. Despite the available technology, burning the midnight oil at work and networking while juggling a personal life still seem to be the practice.

It is common to see employees carrying two or three mobile phones and hooked onto almost every social media site, all in the name of keeping abreast with business trends. Is it any wonder why we are stressed?

Many will argue that with the wealth we are seeing now, there is little to complain about. People are more educated, healthier and hold down jobs.

However, economic growth and human development do not always coincide (UNDP Human Develop-ment Report 2010), and this is quite evident when one observes the current lifestyles of Malaysians.

Something must be amiss when many Malaysian professionals take up multi-level marketing jobs and other side businesses (i.e. tuition, catering) just to feed the family.

Young parents, seeking a better future for their children, take up consultancy or off-site projects just to be able to afford the tuition and activities their children need.

Holidays see tired families barely able to enjoy themselves. Stress-related illnesses are on the rise. The breakdown of relationships is on a steep increase, and thanks to limited time and resources, friendships are via social media like Facebook. This is not healthy.

More holidays do not mean that one’s life will change for the better when the fundamentals such as low pay (or not being paid what is worth) and archaic management per se are still practised.

With inflation on the rise on basic household goods, the Malaysian worker will have to grind even harder yet probably save little.

> A WRITER'S LIFE By DINA ZAMAN - The writer is working on religious histories and communities of Malaysia. She can be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment