Five years ago, as the market collapsed around us, we began changing GuildQuality’s boilerplate work policies to reflect the trust and commitment we shared with our employees.

Open Book

First, we opened up our books. At our monthly team meetings, we started sharing (and discussing) our key performance indicators, a summary cash flow statement and balance sheet, and a detailed income statement.

Sharing KPIs and financials gave our employees a view into our future. Given the apocalyptic market conditions of the time, everyone carried some anxiety about whether or not there would be a future for our young business. Seeing the numbers strengthened trust, eased concerns, and helped everyone to think like a business owner.

Unlimited Vacation

Not long after we opened our books, I let our people know that we would no longer be recording vacation or sick days. Not only was it a tedious exercise, but it struck me as a mildly insulting thing to impose on people I trust and depend on.

So I asked our team to take as much time off as they wanted or needed. I also encouraged them to be smart about it: that is, finish your work, let everyone know if you’ll be out, and make sure you have someone covering your back if you’re going to be unavailable.

Work From Wherever

That same year, it looked like we were going to outgrow our small office. Instead of moving, we invited people to work from home. Enough people took us up on the offer that we were able to nearly double our head count before relocating our business. Though it started as a way to be more efficient with our office space, our “work from wherever you’re most productive” policy quickly became a beloved perk.

Results-Only Work Environments

These policies (or anti-policies) are some of the ways that we are building what’s now called a “results-only work environment.” In a ROWE, we focus on trust, communication, accountability, and results rather than where, when, and how someone does his or her job.

It’s not easy to focus on the things that really matter, and it can be especially difficult for us to help new hires adjust to the freedom and responsibility. Even so, we love working alongside empowered people who are unconstrained by policy and are trusted to solve problems with their intellect and creativity.

—Geoff Graham is president of GuildQuality, a member-based company focused on customer-satisfaction surveying, reporting, and benchmarking for the remodeling and building industries.

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