Results Vs. Hours – what signals efficiency best?


It is an unfortunate reality that efficiency at workplace is always interpreted on face time against the end result, leading to more and more employees spending fruitless time at workplace passing precious time instead of attending to hardcore work or life's priorities.

A remnant of the industrial world's working practices, when everyone worked on an assembly line attending standardised work, punching in more time has no direct value for knowledge workers, for whom effective efficiency would mean finishing a task successfully within the shortest span of time.

In addition many corporate organisations especially the ones in legal and advertising fields still bill their clients on an hourly basis, based on the time a project team spent attending a particular account or a client.

While billing by hour has a certain appeal for an organisation and provides them a safety net and shifts the risk from firm's hands to the client's if the project is to take a longer period of time than expected, the method can alienate employees who perform their tasks effectively within the shortest period of time. However, the firms that bill by hour are not alone in emphasising the number of hours worked; even top corporate managers view employees who are seen at extended hours as dependable and reliable while employees who made it to work on weekends were held as committed and dedicated.

By applying the industrial age perspectives to a 21st century workplace, many organisations are undermining the incentives for workers to be efficient and cause them to curry favours from managers by pretending to work.

The obvious solution to this decade-long problem would be to measure the effective efficiency of an employee without just counting hours. An employee can be considered trustworthy if they cleared a backlog of customer orders. Did one come up with a new idea to solve a tricky problem? Did another write a first draft of an article that is due next week? It is these accomplishments, not the hours that they log, that ultimately drive your organization's success.

While many result-oriented strategies can be job specific, managers and team members can work out a general plan to improve effective efficiency across the teams, which would improve the productivity of your team as well as the time each member gets to spend with their loved ones.

Using a task tracking project management tool to keep track of the time each member has spent performing an assigned task can help a team leader or a project manager understand the individual productivity of the team members.

A team management tool with a secure yet a common repository to store all project data will also enable team members access required project details from anywhere in the world, allowing team members attend to their work no matter where they are.

A common management platform could also provide the team members with a multitude of communication options including chat, email and memo sending which would reduce the time spent on lengthy meetings and discussions.

Even work cultures extremely focused on results against hours do require the physical presence of the team at office to get some parts of the work done. Colleagues need to get together to brainstorm ideas, solve tough problems or build communal bonds yet there is no need for these interactions to govern the most of working and living hours.