Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

Clock watching
There are 168 hours in the week. There's a surprising amount one might say about that. I was struck in particular by a referenced analysis at Brigham Young University that suggests employers get more productivity out of their staff if they are allowed to telecommute and to have flextime to manage their work hours effectively. In other words, send your staff home:
It turns out that not all work hours are the same. The BYU researchers calculated a “break point,” that is, the point where 25 percent of workers reported that work was interfering with family life. Among people who have to log all their hours in an office during certain times, this break point happened at 38 hours. Since many full-time workers log 40-45 hours per week, this means a lot of people are feeling conflict.

If you give employees some flexibility about their schedules, though, and give them the option to work some of the time from home, the break point doesn’t hit until 57 hours. That’s 19 more hours per week — 50 percent more than the office-only workers, and the equivalent of 2.5 full days.

Now that is a lot of time. And the crazy thing is, you probably won’t have to pay people more either for these additional 2.5 days that are on the table. That’s because we are so conditioned to think of flex schedules/telecommuting as “perks.” We consider these favors bestowed by management, always carrying with them a tinge of worry that you won’t really be productive.
I suspect that the break point for us entrepreneurs is higher still. Mine's probably closer to 70. As Laura Vanderkam points out, there are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep 8 hours a night that's 56 of them. So even at 70 hours a week you still have 6 hours a day to do other things. Since I sleep a couple of hours less than 8 on average, I have even more time!

When I had small children I also had the deep misfortune to have a boss who placed a huge premium on face time. It made my work-family balance impossible. I thought he was unreasonably wedded to a counter-productive position. At last I have proof.

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