Leadership

Letting Staff Work Remotely Makes Your Company Stronger

Proof that 9-5 isn't always the answer: a Mabel's Labels employee was able to work while backpacking through Europe—and the firm is better for it

Written by Julie Cole

In my last article I explained the bold move my company, Mabel’s Labels, had recently made: adopting a Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE. Transitioning to a ROWE has been an exciting challenge for all of our staff.

A ROWE means team members can’t rely on just being present to excel in a company; they need to deliver. They work with their managers to set goals, and they’re accountable for them. It doesn’t matter where they are accomplishing these goals physically, as long as those goals do, in fact, get accomplished.

It’s now been six months. We’ve learned that some members of our team find being accountable for goals (rather than actual time spent in the office) to be a foreign concept. Others find it quite liberating. Not having to count vacation days is equally foreign and liberating.

We really dove into the unknown when one of our young and adventurous IT team members recently decided to work from Europe for two months. We went into this situation knowing it would be the ultimate ROWE experiment. The employee understood that if his goals were not being met from whatever youth hostel he was hanging out at, he’d have to catch the first flight home (at least, if he wanted to keep his job).

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And how did this experiment turn out? Highly successful, actually. He delivered to his team, met project deadlines and communicated regularly with other departments and managers. And he accomplished all of this by working creatively and effectively.

We talked to him once he returned to find out how it worked from his point of view. Here are some of the things he (and we) learned from his adventure:

  • Early on, he found that it was difficult to find the time to plan his travels and see what he wanted to see while working full time. He solved this problem by hiring a travel consultant to organize his itinerary. This allowed him to focus on getting his work done and also visiting the places he wanted to.
  • He quickly discovered that WiFi connections and the working atmosphere at fast food restaurants and coffee shops were not up to snuff. So he turned to Google and discovered ShareDesk. With it, he was able to find co-working space that was conducive to actually getting things done.
  • Thanks to ShareDesk, he was able to rent office space with access to a reliable internet connection in various cities. This allowed him to get down to business. Once he was done his work, he was free to go off on another adventure.
  • In many of these shared workspaces, he met other IT professionals from a variety of European cities, and was able to share his work and ideas with them. This has greatly inspired him and given him different perspectives, which is greatly valued at Mabel’s Labels.
  • He had the opportunity to attend trade shows in cities throughout Europe that he would otherwise not have been able to attend. ROWE allowed for this “out of the box” professional development.

The most valuable ROWE lesson we learned through this experience is that there are opportunities for team members to follow their passion. There is no reason why a committed employee who has a strong sense of their professional goals can’t achieve results while fulfilling other lifelong dreams. Talk about an engagement-driver!

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Now I just wonder how long it will be before someone is spending the winter in Cuba, working from a beach. Maybe I’ll be the first to test out that ROWE experiment.

Julie Cole is the co-founding vice-president of award-winning children’s label manufacturer Mabel’s Labels. She has helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and win countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular contributor to HLN’s Raising America, an influential and syndicated blogger and a mother of six.

More columns by Julie Cole

Would your staff be able to do their work while travelling around the world? What do you think the pros and cons of this arrangement might be? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com