Friday, August 31, 2007

A few companies are not counting the hours you take off

Companies' continuing obsession with measuring their employees' input, rather than their output, is one of my pet peeves. "If you're not at your desk, you're not working," and its corollary, "If you are at your desk or at a meeting, you are working," are among the most persistent myths in white-collar corporate America. These myths ignore two facts:

  1. Some people who aren't at their desks are, in fact working.
  2. Some people who are at their desks are not, in fact, doing anything productive.
A related issue is accounting for vacation time. In today's Times, reporter Ken Belson writes about IBM's policy of leaving it to employees' and their supervisors' discretion as to when they take vacation time. Peer pressure certainly puts bounds on how much time can be taken, and IBM's intense work culture, according to Belson, leads to workers taking less time than they are allowed. Nonetheless, any move to allow workers and direct managers control over how and when time is spent at work is a major step forward in my mind.

Here's my favorite quote from the article:

“When you have a work force of fully formed professionals who have been working for much of their life,” Patty McCord, the chief talent officer of Netflix [which also leaves vacation time to employees' discretion], said, “you have a connection between the work you do and how long it takes to do it, so you don’t need to have the clock-in and clock-out mentality.”
(Photo by smartnetny via stock.xchng)