Most of us view corporate America the same way.
It’s the place you go, to sit at a desk, to do your work.
Likely, you get there once you graduate college. Even if you don’t first meander through higher ed, you still start working full-time in business as an adult. And, what’s so nice about being an adult is that you get to do what you want, when you want, and how you want. Mom and Dad no longer control those aspects of your life. But, ironically, most businesses – Hollywood Agency included – don’t treat employees as adults. Bosses dictate how, when and where work gets done.

This past year I’ve had some personal challenges that have taken me away from my desk, often in the middle of the day, sometimes more than a few times a week. Still, the business didn’t fold, much thanks to my incredible team, but also because I continued to get the work done. Maybe not during the typical 9- 5 shift, but it still got done.

I was recently reflecting on my situation when I decided to read Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler. I purchased a copy a year earlier, after attending a conference where a PR agency from Rockville, Illinois, had presented its contents. It had sat in pile of “to be read” all this time because I didn’t really think of work as “sucking” and wasn’t sure anything really needed to be “fixed.” But the philosophy outlined in the book prompted me at this time to take a look, and what I discovered within its pages was a realization that the way we were working had to change.

Welcome ROWE, the Results-Only Work Environment, which we’re quasi piloting at Hollywood Agency. I say “quasi” because I don’t believe a true ROWE can be achieved in a client-centric, billable business such as ours. The agency world dictates we be at the mercy of our clients, who for the most part work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But we’re taking it as far as possible. In a ROWE, employees are judged by the quality of the work and the results, not when or where the work gets done, or how well an employee plays the game. The work is about measurable results, not how long you sit at your desk. Gone are the Friday afternoons when you’re shopping Amazon or scrolling Instagram awaiting the “bell” to ring.

In a ROWE, there is no judgement as to why someone comes in late, leaves early or steps out during the day – we are, after all, adults. Trust and communication are key, as we need to remain accountable to clients wherever we might be. Fortunately, our connected world and the cohesiveness of our team makes this easy to manage. ROWE isn’t about becoming a virtual firm, as generating results often means being present and working collectively.

As the owner of the business I’ve had the privilege of making my own schedule and not having to justify it to anyone – and I don’t apologize for that, I made many sacrifices to get to this point. Yet, when talking to one of my employees about ROWE it was obvious that the benefit of controlling one’s time not be mine alone. While I’ve always thought of myself as flexible, she likened asking to go to a doctor’s appointment as asking the school principal to be excused for an absence. While I may share the title of principal, I don’t have a cadre of children to school.

 

I’m Darlene and it’s my name on the door. For 25 years, I’ve worked with consumer, B2B, tech and not-for-profit brands to make them famous. As the principal, I help set the strategic direction for how clients’ stories are told and measured.

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