In one of the training videos that Actionable sends to new hires, Chris Taylor makes the following (paraphrased) point: “Actionable cares that you are engaged in your work and achieving results. We don’t care at all when you pick up your dry-cleaning.”
Along with working from home, the prospect of working in a ROWE (results only work environment) influenced my pursuit and acceptance of my job at Actionable. To be frank, I’ve always found the standard 9 – 5 workday to be a bit infantilizing. Sitting in a particular chair in front of a computer in a beige office building for a prescribed number of hours in the week strikes me as a ridiculous way to measure job performance. I prefer to be evaluated by my results than by my ability to adhere to a dress code or navigate rush hour traffic.
At Actionable, we have the power and responsibility to manage our own schedules. It’s amazing how liberating that can be.
It also applies a healthy amount of pressure to perform at a high level—results only also means that if you can’t deliver results, you won’t have a job. The highly collaborative and engaged teams own their projects and get a lot done. Despite being completely virtual, we have regular meetings and set high expectations for ourselves and each other.
A ROWE is not for everyone. I admire and respect many people who require the structure of an office and the energy of face-to-face interactions. Many industries and roles require employees to be physically present, and that work should not be discounted by any means. Engaged and happy employees are created using many different strategies, and a ROWE is just one potential option. It requires organization, motivation, and results-based definition of success (a comfy home office and reliable internet connection also helps).
In a previous life I was a server, and I always liked the clear-cut nature of working in a restaurant: hustle is rewarded, and people who don’t play well with others are quickly weeded out. You are responsible for a section (manage your own tasks), bring your guests everything they ask for (deliver results), tailor your approach to their individual needs to offer them an exceptional experience (collaborate with clients), work hard with other members of the team to make everyone’s work a little lighter (collaborate with a fast-paced team), and are generally rewarded with good tips (hustle, humility, and humor all pay off).
The essence of ROWE (no results, no job) also applies to the service industry. If you can’t manage a busy section you are assigned a slower one (and your tips suffer). If you can’t contribute to the team, you end up on slow lunch shifts alone or with just one manager (and your tips suffer). If you consistently fail to deliver, well, anyone who’s ever worked at a bar or restaurant knows that a thick stack of resumes is collected every week.
My years of working in the service industry gave me confidence in my ability to perform in a ROWE (and I’d argue that managers looking to hire for this kind of environment should count a good track record in the service industry as a strength). Actionable uses technology to stay connected, and actively cultivates a collaborative culture to counteract any downsides to a virtual environment. Of course, there are certain kinds of interactions that don’t work virtually, so local team members get together for working sessions, and all staff get together a few times a year for staff retreats to make sure that we get some face-time offline.
I’ve only been a member of the team for a few weeks now, but I’ve already felt like an important and contributing employee, which is a highly motivating feeling. I’m so excited to see what results we can achieve together.