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What classifies a full-time job?
It commonly comes down to executing 40 hours of “work” a week. This is where the 9-5 comes from:
8 hours per day x 5 days = 40 hours.
Although, be honest, how often are all 8 hours of the day really 100% productive?
So the 9-5 is not to get 40 hours of productive work done, it is more so just clocking in to get paid for 40 hours.
Think what would happen if you applied this logic to your personal life.
You think to yourself:
“Cooking this steak should take an hour” but then you find out you were able to cook it to perfection in a mere 20 minutes..
BUT YOU ARE ON THE CLOCK.. so you sit on the floor (probably crying) for 40 minutes and wait until the work / cooking is done so you can eat.
That sounds and looks absurd right? (and it is)
But is it really that different from the 9-5? Why would we ever measure someone’s productivity or efficiency based on time? Wouldn’t it be better to be based on completing tasks? or maybe even an overall goal?
The thing is, this is a tradition that has been passed on to us. Our culture admires those that work late and questions those that leave early. I myself at time feel bad for leaving early, even if everything I needed to do was completed.
Just sitting there, alone with my thoughts.. until it is 5pm.
Just because you are physically at work, it does NOT mean you are productive.
On the complete flip-side of this, the 9-5 is also the reason for many employees to stop tasks.
Think about any workday, is it the exact same as the one before. Is it full of the same tasks, the same meetings, and the same demand?
If you answered, YES – I am sorry, your job sounds extremely boring!
The truth is work is NOT a constant, it is a variable. Every day has new tasks and new demand, so why should you infer that it can always be done in 9-5. By setting time restrictions to work hours, employees use this as a reason to not meet deadlines, or to not finish a task even if it is near to completion.
To illustrate the effect of a 9-5 work environment, here is an illustration:
This is 40 hours of work, but dispersed like a typical work week – a lot of upfront work.
and typically dwindling down toward the end of the week.
As you can see, Monday and Tuesday have “Past Due / Uncompleted work”. This is because of the tasks/workload exceed 5PM, leaving additional work undone. In some scenarios this is okay if there are no hard deadlines, the tasks can be completed the following day.
But this is not something that should be done repetitively, common rollover of tasks, they pile up and projects typically become behind schedule or abandoned completely, or fall to the responsibility of another team member.
At the end of the week, you notice that there is some unproductive time. This is from the workload depleting and the employee feeling the need to stay at work. This unproductive time has no value added to the company, and the employee is missing out on personal endeavors that they would most likely prefer over sitting at work.
Now, what if an organization was goal or task orientated over time focused?
As you can see, the employee is 100% productive, while clocking in the same amount of time, 40 hours. For the time they have invested extra in the beginning of the week, they made up for by leaving early at the end of the week.
This work style allows for the company to be as efficient as possible, as well as gives employees extreme freedom. If an employee is aware of all the tasks they need to do for the week, they can work more whenever they want to clear up large blocks to leave the office.
Employees that implement this also tend to be more focused on activities that actively help them complete tasks in a smaller amount of time. Due to the fact that non-productive meetings or excursions tend to add more time to their day, they look for ways to automate and streamline their day to be more productive – completing more tasks in less the time.
9-5 practices creates the most unproductive and most expensive workforce
So far we have only discussed this issue on a per employee basis, when really to see the true repercussions of being a time focused company you need to look at it as a whole.
A 9-5 organization creates an excess of work that needs to be done. This leads to one of two outcomes:
- The excess work piles up and pushes full departments behind schedule. As seen above, to make up those hours would take 50% more time.
- The excess work falls on the shoulders of someone that is a task orientated person, causing specific employees, typically managers, to work long hours to stay on target or meet deadlines.
In the first option, you will find that your business will move slower and deadlines should be taken with a grain of salt.
In the second option, it is possible that with a great manager you still hit deadlines, sadly due to the increased workload of management, the company will witness a high employee churn in management due to the horrible work to life balance.
Managing a 9-5 workforce
To be clear, a 9 to 5 workforce may not always be more inefficient as a task-based employee. For specialized corporate roles that have less variability in their work a 9 to 5 may line up perfectly with the time it takes to complete tasks.
If you are looking to transition to a task-based organization, you may find that the transition can be tough to execute across an entire organization. Everyone has their own preferences, and some employees prefer the consistency of clocking in and out at the same time every day.
For these employees it is best to recognize that because every working day is a constant, tasks assigned and their activates need to be constant too.
- Limit meetings – Time in a meeting takes away from their tasks
- Focus on tasks that are more clear-cut over trying new things. More creative or new tasks have more variability in their completion time.
Every employee has an hourly cost and an opportunity (what could someone be doing that may or may not be more productive than what they are already doing) cost. These costs are higher for a 9 – 5 workforce due to the fact that they have a set hourly rate (if there is not fluctuation in their time input) and that time taken from one task, directly takes away from another. These are items to consider when creating new tasks/meeting that disrupt the typical office work schedule.
The transition from time to task orientation
To be 100% transparent, this blog is inspired by 2 books The Lean Startup and Traction.
The lean startup walks through the inefficiency of a workforce that is driven by time, comparing it to the priniciples of lean manufacturing. To do this, businesses should aim to create an environment that instead adapts and adjusts to the workload presented, and finding processes that eliminate bottlenecks for growth. To be the most efficient at doing this, companies need to focus on goals and the tasks that get them to meet their goals, not the time it may or may not take to complete it.
To implement this logic, traction has offered a step by step process into launching this type of workforce. Through the creation of scheduled meetings, finding issues, and driving accountability, businesses are able to more effectively address what is being completed and find the bottlenecks that are getting in the way.
A 9-5 organization is extremely inefficient. When creating a business you need to find ways to make to make your company more focused on completing goals and less focused on “Going to work”.
A company that is task focused tends to be more productive, accurately meet deadlines, and are incredibly creative in streamlining processes (more you automate, less you work). This not only allows employees to have more flexibility and management over their own work schedule, but it also allows companies to be more agile than their 9-5 competitors.
The productive way to read Marketing Carpenter.
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