Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It

By CALI RESSLER AND JODY THOMPSON

While you may not always be able to evaluate a book by its cover, you certainly can judge this one by its dedication. The authors — who helped implement a new way of working at Best Buy, the consumer electronics chain — wrote this for ?people who work, and know there?s a better way to do it.? Ressler and Thompson say they have found that better way. Companies need to create a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), a way of working where employees can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as their job is done. The 40-hour work week is, they say, ?outdated, outmoded, out to lunch.? There is precedent for this, of course: ROWE is how freelancers and many salespeople do their jobs. And the book is filled with short testimonials from Best Buy employees, as they tell how they love this new way of working. However, Ressler and Thompson never quite show how the work gets done within a ROWE. If we saw how a representative sample of employees — say someone from HR, IT, finance, marketing, and purchasing — met their goals, it would be a much more compelling case. As it is, we have to take the authors’ argument on faith. Still, intuitively, the idea of treating employees like grown-ups, people responsible enough to get their jobs done well and on time, is appealing. And if the book does nothing more than start a series of discussions about how work gets done, it will be a worthwhile accomplishment.