Besieging Bastions of Antiquity

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The Curious Case of Productivity

The battle for employee productivity and retention has been waged since far before the Great Reshuffle. Eons ago, back in the early 2000s, retail giant Best Buy had endured this very struggle. It was through the cunning of their HR professionals Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson that the retailer emerged from the conflict victorious, flying the banner of its all-new results only work environment.

This novel stratagem—commonly called ROWE–invested emphasis on the results of work instead of the time spent at work, thus allowing for mutual gain by employees and organization alike. The model earned Best Buy the loyalty—and increased productivity—of its staff. Such was its success that other organizations adopted the practice.

Then, as is the way of such things, time passed, leadership changed, and ROWE was abandoned to the annals of history. Or so it seemed, until the shockwaves of 2020’s global pandemic exhumed the model, shining a new, reinvigorating glow upon the practice through the sudden demand for remote offices.

Indeed, the pandemic and the wake thereof have resulted in a resurgence of cries for flexibility in the world of work, cries of opposition to the traditional and perhaps increasingly archaic 40-hour/5-day model. Now, more organizations across the globe are experimenting with new models of work, revisiting the question Ressler and Thompson visited decades earlier—what defines productivity?

Is productivity the act of occupying a cubicle from 9 to 5? Is it the constant updating of our whereabouts to a hovering micromanager? Or is productivity the quantity and quality of the work we produce?

In this TED Talks, Andrew Barnes of Perpetual Global catapults the 4-day work week model into the world of work. Like the Best Buy of ages past, Barnes and his firm require not time from their employees, but results.

Despite the many victories of these revolutionary ways of work–increased productivity, happier employees, less fuel consumption and emissions, and reduction of overhead costs—there are those who cling to the ramparts of antiquity and leadership styles of yore. Ingenius models may have been buried under the dust of reluctance, but change charges ahead nonetheless, barreling through the portcullis of stagnation.

It is up to all of us to look from sunsets past and instead turn to the rising light on the new horizon. Adherence to traditional models might be easy, but daringness to innovate is what allows us to blast the buisine of victory for ourselves and our teams.

“Work isn’t a place you go—it’s something you do.”
– Cali Ressler

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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