Punch the Clock

Are you hoping to become a star by clocking in endless hours at the office? Then, most likely, you or your managers have the wrong idea.

“In the 21st century, we still cling to a rigid model of fixed working time and place better suited to the industrial age,” Alison Maitland, a senior visiting fellow at Cass Business School in London, recently told Personnel Today. “Long hours are often required and rewarded without any measure of the productivity involved.”

Maitland and a colleague have released a new book that examines workplaces in 40 countries, and it argues for rewarding employees according to results rather than hours in the office. It also predicts that offices will increasingly become meeting places rather than all-around workstations.

As we’ve noted, Peter Drucker believed face-to-face interactions to be essential. Also, as he noted in Managing For the Future, “People greatly prefer to work where other people are.”

But Drucker likewise dismissed the cult of long hours. “Most people, believe me, think in terms of work and not in terms of results,” Drucker observed in a 1989 lecture. “Most people say, ‘I’m always the first one in the office and the last one to go.’ Well, that may be all right for the night watchman, but for nobody else. What is the contribution?”

[EXPAND More]Unfortunately, Drucker thought we were still quite far from getting smart about face time vs. performance. “Before [19th-century industrial pioneer] Frederick Taylor, the main measurement of productivity was how tired people were when they got home,” Drucker said. “Well, that’s not the measurement of productivity; that’s the measurement of incompetence. And we are doing that with knowledge work.”

How about you: Do you or your employer closely track the hours you spend in the office—and is that a good thing or not?[/EXPAND]