Recent news stories about a University of Minnesota paper on the effects of Best Buy Co.’s famous flexible work program all led with the finding that flexible work did not result in working parents spending more time with children. Thus it failed to achieve a key goal.
That isn’t what I got out of the study.
The program, called the Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, had several objectives, from lowering turnover to boosting productivity, all by giving employees far more control over their schedules.
And making more time for busy people to spend with their kids was one of them.
In a new study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, the same U of M team that had written previously on ROWE found that it did not increase the amount of time employees spent with their kids, based on a study of 225 working parents at the company.
Results from the study found that moms spent an average 36.4 hours per week with their children, while fathers spent an average 26.6 hours – about the same as before the ROWE program got started.
But moms felt better. They reported more control over their schedules and did not feel as pressed for time. Moms who participated in ROWE also reported eating an additional meal per week with their families, a huge deal for moms who aren’t able to do family dinners five days a week.
So it may only be perception, but the study points more to a goal achieved for ROWE rather than a failure.