Does ROWE Work in Finance?

Last week I was sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine and having lunch with friends after a three hour morning meeting. We began to talk about our careers – where we’d been and what we’d done. My friend, an excellent student and trained public accounting guru, shared about why she’d left the Finance team and moved into Development.

“We worked such incredibly long hours, often through the night, to close the books for quarterly earnings. Sometimes I’d sleep under my desk so I could be available to work on my reconciliations and cost center allocations once the numbers were ready.” She explained that the period close process is a chain of events with different teams of people involved at different points in the chain, so sometimes “I’d wait around for hours for my turn, unsure of when I might be able to start my close activities.”

As I listened I was reminded of several articles that I’d recently read about improved productivity and retention that Best Buy experienced by implementing a radical new approach to work – Results Only Work Environments (ROWE).

According to Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, the founders of this new movement and authors of the book, Why Works Sucks and How to Fix It, ROWE is not a modified work schedule, it’s not flex-time, shortened work weeks or any of the myriad of attempts to provide employees more work-life balance. “In a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), people get to do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done. “ Sounds too good to be true I thought, but does it work?

“Right now, there are two authentic ROWEs: Fortune 100 retailer Best Buy Co., Inc. and brokerage firm J.A. Counter & Associates in New Richmond, WI. Both firms have embraced technology in ways that allow them to maximize productivity (up an average of 41% on Best Buy teams) while also giving people control over their lives.”

What a concept! It sounded reasonable for groups like Sales or even Marketing to implement an innovative workplace program like ROWE, but would it work for groups like Finance? Would it be possible for employees completing back-office functions to close their books in 3-5 days and still “have control over their lives”?


check out this article in today's email. A different twist on ROWE concept- but a sign that times are a changin' I like the idea of the PWC social service sabbatical of 3-6 months at 40% pay! :-) Public Accounting firms are an industry that I wouldn't think would be 'flexible'... guess I need to be more open minded

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