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ROWE, ROWE, ROWE your boat: Work can be a dream!


Dan Huang

Rowe your boat

Imagine you are a recent graduate eagerly awaiting the next chapter in your promising future. From a very early age you were always told that “the world is your oyster” from your parents, peers, and teachers – a thought so established in your mind, that you are anxious for what lies ahead. Within weeks you are confidently striding through the doors of your first real job in the so-called “real world.” Armed with the knowledge and work ethic instilled by the demanding four years previously spent at university, you feel almost unstoppable. You quickly make eye contact with your manager, and before you can greet him with your million-dollar smile, he informs you in his monotonous lack-of-coffee voice: “You’re late.” Suddenly the feeling of inadequacy takes over and reality sets in – you’re five minutes late. The expectation of the future becomes grim and you’re convinced that work is anything but a dream… or is it?

For many, the scenario above is commonly associated with what a typical 9-to-5 job feels like. You come in at 8:55 (if you are running late, swing by the local donut shop to distract and disarm), pour yourself a cup of coffee, and proceed to chain yourself to your cubicle until lunch rolls around. You repeat a similar process in the afternoon.

Even if your work place is somewhat “progressive”, and it’s not a big deal when someone rolls in late, comes in early, stays late, or simply needs to “leave early” for a doctor’s appointment, there’s a moment of guilt or shame – “do I need to ask permission?” or “should I get credit for staying later than everyone else?”

At Highgroove, we operate just a tiny bit differently. We are hyper-specialists in the web development world, and that means we strive to deliver results. We are a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) which simply means that our talent can work whenever from wherever, as long as the results are met.

When I was first introduced to ROWE, I had a difficult time understanding what I had to do – results are one thing (they’re actually clearly defined), but when do I come in to the office? When is an ideal time to leave? Heck, do I have to come in at all?! After a few days, I realized all I really “had to do” was to deliver the results for the iteration, that’s it. Armed with tools to enable development and communication where ever and when ever (I choose), and a team to help me out, I set to it.

You’re probably wondering why anyone in a ROWE would want to come into the office at all. The office doesn’t have to be a scary place. In fact, we tend to come into the office because it helps us accomplish our results faster than if we were working from somewhere else. Our office has everything from Herman Miller chairs to generous 24” displays, along with a plethora of knowledge willing to be shared by other Highgroovers. For many, transitioning from a typical 9-to-5 job to a ROWE can be really difficult because the typical metric of hours worked doesn’t matter anymore. As a fresh graduate, I was afraid of managing my own time, but then it became apparent to me – I’ve been practicing ROWE for more than four years across the street at Georgia Tech!

Attending university has offered some of the best experiences of my life, and ROWE enables us at Highgroove to continue living our lives while working in complete freedom. Everyday feels like a Saturday and while I haven’t been at Highgroove that long, working here has been unreal! Now excuse me, the weather is sunny and 72F out, so I’m going to take off and go for a drive, since I just finished my result of a blog post, and some work for a client!

Image Credit: revstan on flickr


Dan Huang

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