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The Working Hours Taboo


Is it not absurd that we are heading towards Industry 4.0 while we are still applying Management 1.0 ?!

The concept of working hours dates back to the 19th century, when the Welsh socialist Robert Owen called for limiting the working day to 8 hours. The 8-hour practice started spreading out in the 20th century at the peak of mass production which had a completely different business context from now. Thus, it is time to carefully check its validity in today’s business dynamics. 

We are not claiming here that the working hour system is totally obsolete but that it is counterproductive within certain jobs. It is essential for a job that requires attending scheduled activities such as production, shop selling, attending shifts, lecturing…etc.  However, it is highly irrelevant for a job that is not scheduled or duration based such as analysis, research, design, editing, planning, experimenting…etc. These are the kind of jobs which should not be regulated by working hours but by final deliverables.

Why most firms still believe in this system?

Maintaining discipline: The working hour system does imply some discipline. However, it is useless and unnecessary as it does not benefit the organization in any aspect. The only time discipline that matters is delivering results to clients and co-workers on time.

Availability for teamwork: Most communication nowadays is done via emails, texting, audio and video calls. Meetings are always pre-planned. Hence, an employee does not have to be in office all day long waiting for an interruptive meeting to pop up. Instead, she/he just need to be there on time whenever needed.

Controlling Productivity:  Time is definitely a factor of productivity but there are more significant factors such as focus, convenience, skill and efficiency which crucially define the outcome. As a matter of fact, the proper measure of productivity should be the output produced not the input consumed.

 What damage does this system cause?

Energy Depletion and Distraction: Making people adhere to specific working hours sucks out a signification portion of physical energy in rush hours and mental energy in ensuring specific arrival times. Coming every day to work at 9:00 sharp does not add anything to the organization; unlike meeting deadlines, increasing productivity and thrilling customers.  

Lower Job Satisfaction: Most folks, specially generations Y and Z, cherish independence and autonomy which is granted to top management but not to other staff. Thus, this control scheme is one of the reasons why many quit their well-paid secure jobs and pursue freedom and flexibility in free-lancing or self-owned businesses. This ends up with having demotivated workforce and/or the loss of ambitious talents.

Restrained Creativity: It should not be surprising that applying such a policy downgrades the entrepreneurial drive which companies are pursuing nowadays and promotes mediocrity especially within creativity-demanding roles. Creativity, passion and proactivity require a sense of ownership which is drastically undermined by a rigid working hour system along with other century-old policies.  

Letting go of this system and allowing people to work at the time and place of their choice when their presence is not mandatory might be unorthodox but it pays off lucratively in today’s economy. Simply because the world’s best breakthroughs were not done strictly from 9 to 5. However, an organization is recommended to loosen up its policies depending on its operational nature and not based on a standard recipe. Get in touch with us and will be pleased to share with you a migration plan -free of charge- that will help your organization embrace a more flexible work scheme without putting productivity at stake.




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