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Knowledge-worker sloths choose flexibility
In This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week, Benjamin Hardy raises two important commercial concerns: The Myth of the 8 Hour Workday and Quality Vs Quantity.
Knowledge-workers sitting behind desks for eight hours, Monday to Friday, is an archaic tradition, absurd for progressive 21st century global organisations. Remote working, VOIP and mobile technology improvements render physical offices useless, apart from somewhere to meet and network with colleagues. Since global organisations expect 24/7 availability from their staff, making employees also attend the workplace every day is excessive— except to those enjoying an office’s eight-hour coffee break perhaps.
Putting COVID-19 aside, office-space cost per desk, peak-time travel challenges, today’s hectic lifestyle and a healthy body and mind indicate infrequent workplace visits are preferable for employers and employees. Yet the anachronism persists within hierarchies rejecting modern reality for fear of relinquishing control.
Benjamin suggests e-mail, instant messaging, sales-calls, irrelevant chit-chat, pointless meetings, multitasking (task switching) and extended breaks cripple efficiency, preventing effective performance. Skilled knowledge-workers concur: these wastes limit achievement. Since conscientious employees prefer concentration before enjoying deserved downtime, flexible or remote working mitigates the trivia causing suboptimal mental power.
Today’s leadership style is either flexible-management evolution or antiquated Dickensian regression. Scrooge and Marley’s firm in A Christmas Carol profited from suffering, yet modern-day Adaptive Leadership profits from engaged, motivated people working in versatile teams.
As a team leader, I encourage people to choose their own routines, so long as we reconvene for weekly or bi-weekly team meetings. If everyone is available as needed, responds in a timely manner and respects the flexibility, I adopt a light-handed leadership style that urges agility.
Whoever said sloths are the slowest animal on earth has never seen either a morning-person functioning late in the day or an afternoon-person woken too early. Competing with people’s body-clock affects productivity. I see no reason for compelling early-risers to wait until 9:00 a.m. to start working, nor do I value drowsy late-risers who start too early, wasting hours to wake up.
Personal choice facilitates everyone to work optimally. Some people start working earlier, others later; some prefer the office environment, others value working from home. Everybody has an effective preference for efficiency. Organisations must thus choose what is most important: results or people on seats.
[This article was first posted on LinkedIn, September 2017, and has been updated to reflect COVID-19’s commercial challenges.]