Killer Motivating Tactic: Break the Time Clock

Bring your company into the 21st century, where work is about goals accomplished, not hours clocked. Your employees will thank you.

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

The traditional 9-to-5 workweek is just that: traditional, a vestige of a different era when the number of hours an employee clocked on a production line was an easy way to measure productivity. The nature of work has changed, but too many businesses still automatically adopt a rigid schedule without considering its effects on employee productivity and happiness.

Enforcing strict working hours erodes employer-employee trust. Telling them whenthey must complete their work is a fast way to make them feel less autonomous. And nothing kills productivity faster than an atmosphere in which employees feel forced to work. They should want to complete their work–for the good of the company and because they like what they do, not because they feel obligated or forced.

The fact is, giving employees full freedom to come in and leave when they want may increase their output and productivity.

Here are four reasons why you should drop set working hours:

1. It diminishes productivity.

When employees are forced to be at work within specific time parameters, their success is tied to when they come in and leave the office–not what goals have been met. Just because an employee is present doesn’t mean he’s actually being productive. Let’s face it: Simply filling the requirement of sitting in a chair for eight (or more) hours is not exactly motivating.

2. It doesn’t foster trust.

Employees should have full autonomy to meet their goals however they want–put the onus on them to determine the best process. That way, they’re more likely to own their work and be passionate about being the best they can be.

3. It’s distracting.

Do most employees’ projects and tasks consistently fit within a rigid, 9-to-5 schedule? Probably not. So why do you want them thinking about how many hours they clock instead of meeting their goals? Employees can and should determine how long they must be at the office to get something done. After all, during a big project you don’t want someone walking out the door when the clock strikes 5 simply because she’s met her time quota for the day.

4. It’s bad for teamwork.

Working in a team can make a huge difference when it comes to productivity. But when individual team members are bound by set hours, you exacerbate potential issues over who’s pulling their weight. Let your employees focus on meeting team goals and collaborating to make it happen–whether that means they all work together in the office during the same hours or whether they work in chunks of time here and there. They know how to get their work done.

Getting rid of employee hours can require a culture change in your company, but you’ll reap the benefits of increased flexibility and autonomy. Keeping employees happy and productive starts with you showing them trust–and enforcing hours shows exactly the opposite.

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Kbirth
Kbirth

As an anthropologist who studies time, I appreciate this article that reveals that clocks can be an obstacle to getting things done.  We have become so accustomed to measuring things with the clock that we sometimes forget that the clock is only about 600 years old and its use for measuring work is only about 200 years old.  Basically, we need to be open to the possibility that the clock was a tool adapted to a way of life that is slowly passing, and just as the clock revolutionized the transition from an agrarian-based economy to an industrial-based economy, we need to be open to new ways of thinking about time in a post-industrial economy.  Because the clock represents time as uniform, it is not well-suited to any project that involves multiple tasks with multiple rhythms.