Posted on | May 10, 2011 | No Comments
5-day, 8-5 work week are staples of our daily existence because it’s historically patterned around our ability to be at a certain place at a certain time.
Specifically, it’s a pattern that presumes we’ll be in our office. It’s that way because of predictability.
Predictability allows for the mechanics of industry to function.
- It’s predictable that it’ll take you two to three hours to get in to the office. One hour to prep. One to two hours in transit.
- It’s predictable that you’ll take a lunch around noon.
- It’s predictable that you’ll leave around five. One to two hours in transit.
That predictability guaranteed that business could be conducted in an era that was dependent on geographic centralization. People who needed to reach a company could contact stakeholders within a range of time, and business could get accomplished. And socially, everyone agreed that times outside of this range were “off” and unavailable.
Well, there’s seven things wrong with this model today:
1. That consumers and other business partners around the world operate on the same schedule. That’s really wrong. We’re in a global economy now.
2. That consumers and other business partners want to wait until the next business day, or, can wait until the next business day to get something done. Increasingly, work can’t wait – it must be done now.
3. That we’re unreachable unless we’re by our office phone. That’s not realistic. That’s a lie. We’re all reachable.
4. That we must be in an office to get anything done; that office is the sole and only place for work, and we must be physically there to access work resources and information. And that’s wrong.
5. That it makes economic sense to waste two to four hours a day – up to 20 hours a week – in transit. What an enormous waste of energy, money, and time. I mean, you can type and talk anywhere, right?
6. That employees need to be in a centralized place so they can be watched; productivity will slide since workers are untrustworthy, undisciplined miscreants that can’t manage their activities. Wrong.
7. That you must be using company assets to do company business. If company business is knowledge-work, it can be done from anywhere. Everybody has a computer. A phone. Soon, a tablet.
Aren’t these predictable conditions in today’s economy? And shouldn’t our work model adapt to it?
The 8-5, 5-day workweek is an entrenched relic of another era. Smart employers are re-thinking why 40-hours are even necessary in that over a third of that time is totally unproductive. In an era of tight budget constraints, they’re offering flextime and reduced schedules as a way to offer indirect incentives. Studies has shown that employees feel more time is better than direct compensation anyway.
Think of it: if your competitors are catching on to this and using telecommuting and flex-time as incentives, and saving their employees 10-20 hours a week in transit along with all of that fuel cost, obtaining relevant tax incentives for telecommuting, then only working the employee when it’s necessary (maybe 30 hours instead of 40 hours a week), more work gets done faster, better, less expensively, and the employee makes more efficient use of their time. It’s like a raise without paying more money. And those employees working for your competitor: they’re going to be faster, better, stronger than your business, with a loyal, smart, and efficient employee base, without increasing their salaries. In fact, hourly employee wages may actually be reduced because of more efficient allocations of time.
Be critical: why are you working your team based on a model that was appropriate for the last century? Innovate. Be competitive and compassionate. Do something bold. Give people their life back, and hold people accountable to objectives instead of a stupid timeclock.