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Corporate America believes in the concept that time equals productivity. Companies need to start looking at how they evaluate their employees.

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.

Corporate America believes in the concept that time equals productivity. Companies need to start looking at how they evaluate their employees.

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Dear Corporate America, time does not equal productivity! #workingmom” quote=”Dear Corporate America, time does not equal productivity.”]

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!

Further reading:

The Problem With Maternity Leave in the United States

Company Benefits Working Moms Need

5 Practical Time Management Tips for Working Moms

Something’s Gotta Give

Corporate America believes in the concept that time equals productivity. Companies need to start looking at how they evaluate their employees.

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  1. Ooooo – this is a good one! The environment you’re describing is precisely why I no longer work for large companies 🙂 I did 3 years with IBM and had enough. Until this month when our small company got bought out, I have not worked for a company with more than 30 employees since 2002! There are some drawbacks – like rate of pay. But, I still consider myself extremely fortunate to have that kind of flexibility where I can login in the evening to get a few more things done and “make up time” so I can focus on my family at the times they need it most. IBM certainly did not have that outlook 🙂 So far with the new company, I am still able to set my hours so I am home when needed – of course I only work 30/week so that helps greatly, but I carry the insurance as well.

    1. Hi Julie! If you don’t mind my asking, where in the country do you live? I find that working for small successful companies around here is quite difficult but I agree they offer better flexibility!

      1. Minnesota – being in the Midwest makes a difference. With the small companies, I’ve been able to negotiate benefits even with only 30 hours. My husband runs his businesses from home, so he is able to cover kids while I’m at work from 9-4, then he starts teaching at 4, takes a supper break and teaches from 6:30-9pm during the week. It’s a schedule we kind of fell in to when he lost his FT job in 2009. We had 3 job losses in 5 years between the 2 of us!

  2. I am right there with you! There are times at my 8 hours a day job that I am just not functioning “productively”. 8 am is NOT a productive time for me – but I have to be at work at that time, mainly because I have to be available to employees. However, if my work hours were from, say 10 am to 6 pm, I would probably get more accomplished as my peak hours fall within those times.

  3. Monica, this post to deserve to become a manifesto of all frustrated 9 to 5 workers! I’m with you!
    Where should I sign? 😉
    I had my own additional gehenna commuting about 4 hours a day. And I could perfectly do 95% of my work from home!