Virtual Office: “Why Work Sucks”

I just finished reading “Why Work Sucks (And How To Fix It)“, by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They created the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) which Boomzap loosely follows. I say “loosely”, because while our virtual office environment is inspired by the core values of a ROWE, we don’t do everything in the book by the letter.

The thesis of ROWE is simple: You can do anything you want, anytime you want, as long as the work gets done. The book further describes the principles of ROWE in 13 simple guideposts:

    1. People at all levels stop doing any activity that is a waste of their time, the customer’s time, or the company’s time.
    2. Employees have the freedom to work any way they want.
    3. Every day feels like Saturday.
    4. People have an unlimited amount of “paid time off” as long as the work gets done.
    5. Work isn’t a place you go – it’s something you do.
    6. Arriving at the workplace at 2:00 pm is not considered coming in late. Leaving the workplace at 2:00 pm is not considered leaving early.
    7. Nobody talks about how many hours they work.
    8. Every meeting is optional.
    9. It’s okay to grocery shop on a Wednesday morning, catch a movie on a Tuesday afternoon, or take a nap on a Thursday afternoon.
    10. There are no work schedules.
    11. Nobody feels guilty, overworked, or stressed-out.
    12. There aren’t any last minute fire drills.
    13. There is no judgment about how you spend your time.

ROWE is about freedom – it gives developers the freedom to control their day, as long as they do good work. You don’t even tell them how to do the work – the book likens that to ordering a sandwich from a deli and then watching over their shoulder as they make it. In a ROWE, you give clear expectations about what you want, and trust that people are good and smart enough to do it on their own.

Because there’s so much freedom in a ROWE, each person tends to customize it to fit their needs. For example, guidepost #9 is very me – I disappear during the day to do errands, see friends, watch a movie, etc. I do this because late afternoons and evenings are the busiest time for me – that’s when assets come in and I need to go script them.

For others, it’s the opposite – the artists on my team are busiest during the day, and our programmer likes to work at night. We didn’t really set this work schedule as a rule; it just sort of evolved on its own. This is how we work and everyone on the team adjusted accordingly.

Not all of the guideposts ring true with Boomzap. Since most of us work full-time from Mondays to Fridays, every day does not feel like a Saturday. Sometimes we require people to attend meetings – our meetings are usually playtests, so a larger testing group is crucial. And once in a while I still feel guilty about leaving early on a Friday night when I know I won’t be able to put some assets in, but that’s probably five years of strict corporate training still in my blood. However, I do think that these are small, maybe even insignificant exceptions. As long as the core value of ROWE is respected, encouraged, and followed, then the guideposts are exactly that: guides.

That being said, I’m off to watch Terminator 4!


Luna Cruz – Producer/designer

Written at 10:39 AM on a Friday