The concept that time equals productivity
Few things are more irritating to me than wasting time just to say “I worked 8 hours today.” I’m not saying that we should get paid for work not done. To the contrary, I feel that if I can get my work done in 6 hours one day then I should be allowed to go home or pick up my daughter and spend time with her. Why not? I am not asking to do less work, I am just asking for the flexibility to be able to plan my day in a way that works for my family and me.
I realize not all jobs are created equal. Salespeople, customer service people, nurses, etc. are going to be under time constraints at work. A nurse needs to be present on her entire shift because medications need to be dispensed and a patient might have an emergency.
I am project based. With a project, there is “x” amount of work that goes into completing specific tasks associated with a deadline. Some days I have completed all my proactive tasks, my reporting, and other daily tasks and the project is either done or is held up waiting on further consideration from other parties who may not be getting back to me for a few days. Why should I find meaningless tasks to look busy, just to justify my paycheck? I am not hourly, I am salary. There is a reason people are salaried and primarily that reason is because companies do not want to have to pay overtime for their higher paid employees. So in other words, it is okay to work more than 40 hours, just don’t ask to work less! What? How is that fair?
The culture of Corporate America
I actually feel like for most corporate, large Fortune companies, I have a pretty flexible schedule. I can leave for doctors appointments or go pick up my daughter when she gets sick at school. I appreciate that flexibility and I am not trying to say that I deserve more. What I am saying is that I cannot understand why we live in a culture that values the time we spend in a chair more than the actual work output.
Every single person I know at my work has spent dozens of hours aimlessly searching the web, especially if they have been there for any length of time. Why? The clock hasn’t turned 5:30 pm yet, that is why! No human being is perfect, I think I work pretty hard at my job, but my brain neurons are not always firing perfectly for the 8-9 hours I spend at my desk. Sometimes I am working on something that is just so mentally demanding that by 3 pm I am done. My mind is just shut off because it’s burned out! I will spend the next 2.5 hours looking busy to “put in my time.” This isn’t intentional, I am not trying to scam anyone out of money or time, I am simply human.
I don’t hear my boss complaining when I spent 3-4 hours at night answering emails and finishing up urgent action items after a busy day. It seems to me that companies have an unfair advantage.
Technology is going to change corporate policy
With the rise of technology, companies need to start looking at how they evaluate their employees. We live in a connected world, we are available 24/7, so why do I need to sit at my desk from 8:30am-5:30 pm? What am I truly accomplishing once my brain has decided to go on a mental retreat? I wish we could get employers out of the mindset that time equals productivity. I could leave work at 3 pm, pick up my baby, go home and cook dinner, and then log back into work to tie up loose ends. I guarantee you that I would cumulatively get more work done and my family would be happier. It is not like my cell phone wouldn’t be attached to my hip from 3-7pm.
I see emails in real-time, even when not at work and everyone has my cell phone number. I am working even when I am technically not working, I am always reading emails and adding notes to my notepad for things I need to do or meeting notes I need for the next day.
Work never stops. The time I spend in my chair does not define my productivity. The best example of a movement I have seen towards changing this is ROWE: Results-Only Work Environment. Its foundation is based on what employees produce measures productivity, not the time an employee spends in their chair. Meetings are all optional. You plan your time based on the tasks/goals that you were assigned. I am sure I can find flaws in this strategy too. For starters, I don’t know how I feel about optional meetings. Sometimes you cannot accomplish a task without everyone giving their final consent, thus making attendance mandatory. I do, however, agree with the premise and I hope that it gives some merit to large companies to consider trusting their employees more. Companies like Yahoo! have done their best to set us back by taking away telework and flexible work options. I hope those are the exception moving forward and not the rule!