Most traditional office jobs measured by a clock are out-dated (pun intended)
It sounds great. A 40 hour-a-week job where you spend eight hours of your day in an office. The reality is you probably only work 25-30 hours a week. Most of the rest of the time is waiting for someone to get you something or in meetings that could have easily been an email or 5-minute call.
The truth is your bosses have their own tasks to attend to and can't spend all of their time assigning you work. They're busy just like you. They have goals and objectives that make up those goals just like anyone else. Your job makes up a small part of those goals. You should do it as efficiently and to the best of your ability. However, keeping someone at an office for a set amount of time is pointless.
Everyone should do their tasks and be allowed to live their lives. We should be focused on maximum output and employee happiness over total hours worked.
The only people who should have consistent shift work are people who are frontline with customers.
Fix: Jobs should be task based
The better way to operate is to have a task list for any given day, week, month or quarter with expectations for completion dates. Allow flexibility on where someone works and when they work. Coming from the start-up world I would sometimes have to work 14 hour days to accomplish the goals I needed to and at other times I could work 3-4 hours and be perfectly fine. I could leave in the middle of the day to go eat and work out, then come back. Often I worked until 5-6 PM, but I felt good from moving around mid-day.
What was nice about that is it left me room to handle errands, fitness and other tasks in my everyday life that are important to me. Do you know hard it is to get your car serviced or get a haircut when you work 9-5 every single weekday? Everyone crams into those few available Saturday or evening spots.
How much more relaxed would you be if you finish all of your tasks by Thursday afternoon allowing you to grocery shop, hit the gym and get your car serviced before hitting the road Friday afternoon for a 2 1/2 day weekend?
Constant email bombardment
We all hate it. Ping...ping...ping...ping. When I first took over my job I was still getting forwarded all of my predecessor's emails. Between my mail and hers I was getting about 150-250 emails per day. In reality about 90% of this was junk I could ignore. It was an amazing relief to disconnect her old account to mine. But with every notification to avalanche against me built.
What makes the matter worse is the expectation that you have your work email attached to a device that you take home with you. For a while I got away with this, because I refused to step into the smartphone world. Ultimately I ran out of options at the phone store and got an iPhone. Every time my phone vibrated it brought a little bit of stress with it, like "Oh, there is one more thing."
I started reading some time management books and email was seen as a constant distraction. Essentially if you claim to be multi-tasking you're probably not good at any tasking. Focus in one doing one task really well and then move onto the next. Mute your email until your next time you assigned to check it.
Fix: Only check your email 2-3 times a day. Never check it once you leave for the day.
This was a game changing behavior move. Once I relieved that I didn't need to check my email inbox every time one came in it allowed me to focus on projects. If you invest all of your time to solving the shallow problems that you get in an email inbox then you won't have time for the deeper more time consuming problems. I check my email 30 minutes after getting to the office, before I leave for lunch and then one hour before I leave for the day. I really only answer what I need to.
When I'm at a conference I will only check my email once a day. In my mind, my job is to be absorbing as many ideas and techniques as possible at the conference, not attending to needs at the home office. It is a waste of time if I am not meeting with peers and spending every free moment on my phone or in my room. What is the point of going?
The constant 24-7 connection is a lot of the reason, combined with virtually unlimited entertainment at your fingertips, are some of the main reasons there is less civid engagement from young people. Also an environment where both partners have to work to maintain a household of expenses beyond what they need.
Minimal meetings or committees
There is no phrase that gives me more chills than "Let's form a committee". What this really means is we don't waste any of our time, so let's create more meetings for someone else. I'm a bigger fan of handing out tasks to the people that best can handle them and reporting back to the group ASAP.
Most meetings could be a simple email with an assignment. Back away from that person and let them come up with their own ideas. The problem with meetings is that often the highest paid person in the room gets deferred to. This isn't fair to that person nor the others in the room. An open and honest dialogue has to be had to accomplish anything. A good productive meeting is like 15-20 minutes tops.
I once had a week where I had 17 meetings that ate up 24 hours of my 40 hour work week. I got dreadfully behind on what I was supposed to be doing. The lesson you have to learn is....
Fix: Sometimes you have to say "no"
Whether this is towards sales reps that want to take an hour out of your time to come in, 15 minutes of your time by phone or an organization that wants to eat away at your time everyone wants a piece. Only you know your limitations and can properly budget your time for what is important. If you don't think it is important then don't set time aside for it just to appease someone else.
After hours business networking
I've been to countless numbers of after-hour business functions over the years. They really only accomplish three things:
These events tend to be costly and at hours only really convenient for people that wrap up their day at 5 PM or a little after. In previous jobs I've been done at 4:30-4:45. My gym only offers evening classes at 5:30 and 6:30, but the majority of after hour events start at 5:30 or 6 . What does someone in my position expect to do for an hour?
Fix: Time to volunteer in the community
I've developed waaaaayyy more good business contacts with simply being visible in my community through my own personal life than anything else. That is my gym, going to the library, cooking classes, recreation sports, volunteering at businesses and a host of other opportunities. These are things I love doing in my spare time anyways. If you're social and active you'll do just fine in a way more fun environment.
My local community does a "Day of Caring" which allows you to tackle community problems as a team. I LOVE these kind of events. The best friends and contacts I've ever made have come from working together for a common goal in a fun way.
The goals you should take away from this:
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.