John Klossner

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Working for results can be tough ROWE to hoe


recent FCW story covered the results-only work environment, or ROWE. This is a management concept that concerns itself less with employee workplace parameters -- no clocking in and out, no office presence -- and more with, well, results. It doesn't matter where or when you work as long as the job gets done.

Speaking as a freelance cartoonist, this is a format I am very familiar with and one I have always operated in. Speaking as someone who has worked in a ROWE format for over 20 years, I also know that it requires discipline on the employee's part, otherwise the perceived freedoms -- flexibility of schedule, freedom of working locations -- can be quickly overtaken by the constant presence of work, which is enhanced by the technologies allowing us to carry our office on our smart phones.

There is always another email to answer, more research to be done, another part of the project that can be taken care of while you're having dinner with your family. Part of this discipline requires establishing parameters with managers, lest they think you are available for contact and response 24 hours a day. These are not overwhelming obstacles, merely issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed in any ROWE relationship.

As our work environments become more ROWE-oriented, and we harbor thoughts of telecommuting from a hammock in the backyard, Mother Nature always seems to crash the party. The recent severe storms and resulting multi-day power outage in the DC region threw a water balloon on many teleworking setups. A once-a-decade (okay, once every 2 to 3 years) extreme nature event isn't the only thing standing in the way of teleworkers, however. Specific office telework policies (or lack of them), problems with remote network access and employees not keeping work hardware at hand all play into telework problems.

telework forecast

Posted on Jul 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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