rowing oars in water

Building a Culture of CARE with a ROWE (Results-only Work Environment)

By: Emily Eley, Executive Director, Orbis

The pandemic changed everything. Since its onset, we’ve adapted how we work, learn, shop, seek medical attention, communicate – how we live. These changes effected everyone, and the people who make Orbis, Orbis were no exception. After watching our incredible team move mountains at home, we finally realized what they had sacrificed to keep it all working without skipping a beat: themselves. So, in the last quarter of 2022, we did something crazy: We let our staff decide precisely when and how they wanted to work. To be specific, we ran Orbis as a ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). If you’re new to the concept of ROWE, you can learn more about it 
here, but the long and the short of it is to allow your people to work, on their own time, in ways that work for them (lives, preferences, needs). The metrics for success then become delivering results, not showing up at a specific time or place. Our ROWE pilot allowed for the agility we felt our team needed to work their best for your teams in a changing environment.

Along with any good pilot project or prototype, we needed data. So we surveyed our team at the beginning and end of the pilot to determine if ROWE was working – the results were encouraging! The most significant finding was a dramatic rise in our staff’s perception of their personal happiness and our company morale. Our team also expressed that their workloads felt more balanced and achievable despite no changes to the amount or type of work provided. In true Orbis fashion, in exploring this data, we also encouraged our team to embark on storytelling, sharing what they did with their newfound ‘freedom’ and how it made them feel; they didn’t hold back.

All in all, I guess you could say that ROWE was an extensive prototyping experience, testing a nuanced method in working and living to best meet the needs of our people and clients in a changing environment. We are thrilled to say that our team optimally operates with 100% accountability and 100% autonomy, and we’re excited to continue piloting ROWE this 2022!