Book Review: Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it.


Why work sucksI just finished reading Cali Ressler and Jody Thompsons book about ROWE – Results Only Work Environment. This book is about focusing on the results, while the time spent making the results are unimportant. There are some great ideas in this book that challenge the way you traditionally view your job. The main point here is to remove the focus on the amount of time you work, and rather focus on what you do, this meaning if you finish your job in 30 hours, you could spend the rest ten windsurfing or whatever.

The book might be great for jobs not requiring opening hours. As for me, working in a call centre it is not possible to allow people to work whenever they want, as long as they answer 250 calls per week. If they all came at eight did a great job, and left at 2 in the afternoon, there would be six hours with no employees at work. This does work for web designers, authors, architects and for other people on projects. The flaw to this plan as to that you can do whatever as long as your job is done. If you work as a cashier at a grocery store you cannot stand up and leave if you severed you customer nr 100. There is still more customers coming through, and they will not understand your need to leave. So first of all this book is not for everybody, it is not for bus drivers or anybody else where customers depend on their availability. It might demand a certain amount employees also. If you are a small attorney’s office and a client can’t reach you at nine in the morning it might not look good.

I do believe that there is a small niche of who can have the privilege of controlling their hours this way, but the authors fail to comment on who this book is suitable for, and assume that this is the solution for all.

On the other hand the book gives good pointers on time consuming activities that just is a waste of time and does not help focusing on achieving results. I might not care why people are late for work anymore as it takes time away from them actually getting to work, explaining me why.

All in all this is a book that opens your eyes to alternatives, and it might work for you. Nevertheless there are still issues in this book worth reading about negative talk and time wasting meetings and how to move work out of the office.

And by all means I myself have experienced managers expecting me to work a certain amount of hours even if I had a clean desk half way into the day. I know I work fast, and here I got punished with boredom half the day, the ROWE model would fit me perfect then. On the other hand I also believe that if you manage to finish your work two days before deadline, it does not mean you can take two days off. It means that you can start your next project two days earlier.

I also question the pay per hour. Maybe you should rather get paid by amount of work and quality? That could work even at a call centre, but this again could de-motivate new employees that are less effective = less pay? This is an issue that is vaguely discussed in the book as a solution. Today you get paid for 40 hours a week, if you can do twice as much in this time it is great. I feel that the book fails to address the solution of this. If you work twice as effective, should you get twice the pay? Or do your job in half the time and do whatever you please with the other half of the time? I feel this book fails on convincing me about this. The book fails to address the quality of work, and seems to have an understanding that the quality is high. My experience is that high quantity does not equal high quality. If I give greater pay to those high performers it might trigger other to cheat their way to a higher performance on the cost of quality. It is not hard to finish a project on time; it might be harder to make it great in time?

This book gets me thinking, and it does give you alternative solutions to your everyday look at work. It is recommended reading; if this ROWE concept works for you it might give you a change for life.

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