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Reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning really got me thinking: in this “new normal” are we paying for productivity or wasted time?

Since the Industrial Revolution, people have been generally paid for a job – doing something in a central place for a number of hours a week. Of course, this was necessary to keep the machines (literal and virtual) of business humming productively.

The Information Age, though, facilitated a change to this. People started to work in different locations, connected over a corporate network, although tradition still kept the vast majority of staff in central offices.

The pandemic greatly accelerated this change and companies were surprised to find just how much of the workforce could be as productive (or, sometimes, even more so) when working remotely, typically from home. It now looks like only about 11% of US companies expect all staff members to return to full-time in-office work. Few, though, expect their staff to be remote full-time: a hybrid working model looks to become the norm, with people spending one or two days a week in offices.

But how to measure what people are doing, and on what to base pay? Some companies have gone the software surveillance route, where people are monitored for times logged-in and active on their computers at home. Others are insisting on endless video meetings and group chat software sessions to ensure people are kept busy.

Just how productive is all this? It’s common cause that ‘Zoom-fatigue’ has set in – much has been written on this, such as this article in National Geographic – and staff are not really paying as much attention in Zoom calls as they would be face-to-face. We are, in effect, paying them to waste time, especially in environments with multiple such sessions every day.

For most office workers, should the measure not be task-related nowadays? Provided they accomplish their allotted tasks within an agreed timeframe do we still need to micro-manage how, when and where they are doing this work?

Certainly, there will be defined days/times for meetings where attendance is necessary (whether by video or in-person) and some roles require attendance online for defined periods, but doesn’t it make more sense to pay for tasks wherever feasible and allow the staff members the flexibility to accomplish this in their own way?

In fact, won’t this lead to not only happier staff, but more productive ones, too, willing and able to take on more work? And won’t a happier, more productive workforce mean reduced overheads and a more competitive business?

I believe that we, as business leaders, need to look closely at this and determine which roles can be moved to task-based pay and to do so as soon as feasible. It will be great for the business.

What do you think?


#BusinessFitness #Productivity #Disruption #JobSatisfaction #Management #Motivation #Pandemic #WorkingFromHome #WorkLifeBalance


Some of my other recent short posts related to this which you might find interesting:

And, perhaps, this 3-part posting from early 2013 – looking ahead to where we are now:


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