I have always been a fan of the management style of treating employees as adults and not needing to micromanage their lives in order for them to produce on a high level. In fact I would argue that by micromanaging your employees you create less productive, unhappy employees.

I find that there are a lot of companies in the tech space that still like to pressure their employees to work set hours and further find that they are happy to tell an employee when to start work but then have no problem leaving the end of work time a mystery.

In some cases this is down right shooting yourself in the foot.  Why would you tell an artist/graphic designer to start being creative at 9?  Is this some magical time where artists can turn on their creative juices?

Why would you make a developer start work at 9 if his optimal time to code is from 12pm to 2am?

By giving an employee the freedom to make the choice of when they come to and leave work, I have found a drastic increase in these key factors:

  • Loyalty – It shows that the company has hired the employee to do their work to the best of their ability, not to be just another ass filling a chair.
  • Efficiency – Working when they are at their most efficient means quicker turn around and better output.
  • Passion – You don’t mind working until 2am on something you are enjoying working on because you don’t have to come in at that magical 9am time if you are tired.
  • Hours Worked – As Loyal, Efficient and Passionate employees they enjoy the time more that they spend on their projects as it isn’t a 9-5 work time but a project they are dictating.

Now, It would be irresponsible of me to say you will get all of these things to happen over night if you decide to tell everyone that they can set their own work schedule, as it isn’t as easy as that.  In fact if you don’t follow these key rules, it could back fire and you could create employees that are lazy, dispassionate and inefficient.

However, if you follow these simple steps of treating your employees as adults hired in set roles, you will keep your employees the former instead of the latter.

  • Set clear goals and targets of the expectations of your employees, for example, What they are working on, who they are working with and when the projects need to be complete.
  • Communicate with the team early on any important dates, meetings or milestones so that the team can plan for these around a mutual schedule.
  • As the employer, hire to fulfill a role, not to put an ass in a seat from 9-5, I can’t stress this enough.

Companies will argue that if ‘Employee A’ sees ‘Employee B’ coming in at 11am everyday they will want to do that as well.  My defence for this is: why can’t ‘Employee B’ come in at 11, is there a pressing matter that makes it so they need to be in the office at 9?  If so, then treated as an adult with a set role, clear targets and future knowledge of important milestones they will understand the importance of being there at this time and work this into their personal work schedule.

If you have set work hours at your company, I highly suggest rethinking why you have set those hours and realize the productivity it could be losing you.

  • Altaf

    Greg, I agree with you on treating employees like adults and letting them set their own office hours, working when they feel comfortable and more productive. What concerns me is disruption in team building, knowledge sharing and project collaboration with this concept. I think that the availability of the team is essential at any given time during set hours.

    For example, you might need the opinion of a developer while discussing an important project. This would mean I will have to wait till 3 pm till he shows up. It won’t be too nice to call him at home when he is spending time with his family. Maybe the other team members won’t be sticking around in the office till 3 pm. Bob might be working on a task that he needs help with and will have to wait till Mike comes to work in the afternoon.

    I see a disconnect between the employees here. I hope you get my point.

  • Greg Harrison Post author

    Hey Altaf,

    I agree team building is important and great communication is key to ensuring that this model works.

    I would argue that the opinion you need of the developer doesn’t actually have to be made on the spot at the exact time you need it. You essentially are asking to replace 8 hours of productive work time for the developer to make this one decision.

    Email the developer your questions giving clear needs from him. This actually will help the developer and you as you get exactly what you need in written form and allows the developer to digest the exact problem instead of making a rushed decision.

    If, for some reason, it actually is a life and death situation, then call the developer and let them know you have a big problem and need his immediate advice and to have him look over the email as soon as he can or read the email aloud to him over the phone.

    My guess is that this won’t be a problem for anyone dedicated to the project to discuss this during their time off and with desktop sharing apps available there isn’t really an excuse as to why they need to be in your physical location.

    My question for you is when are these decisions important enough to replace great productivity with mediocre productivity?

    The Point I make in this post, is that if you have hired correctly and treat employees as adults than everyone will work together to set a fair schedule and they will also be more willing to put in the extra time to meet, discuss, and plan the project correctly because of the freedoms they are given.

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