When I was younger and entering the workforce I quickly understood that I do my best work at 5 AM.
I have the best ideas, I am the most focused and I’m able to perform miracles.
While doing some experiments on myself to test my abilities, I found out that working 4 hours, from 5 AM to 9AM , I could achieve more than by working in the office from nine to five.
Unfortunately It’s hard to explain it to a manager who measures how many minutes you’re late in the morning and if you’re still in the office at 4.59PM.
For each of us the best hours for working are a little different. There are a lot of people like me, who like to work in the morning, there are also a lot of people who do their best creative work after midnight when I prefer to be asleep. Yet most offices still demand a 9 to 5 commitment from everyone.
Of course there are a lot of areas where working during business hours is essential. I’m not going to argue the benefits of keeping a bank open at 4AM or barbers and cashiers who should cater to the needs of night owls.
Yet, for a lot of fields these “office hours” are just there due to hundreds of years of traditions.
If the job, in most part, requires an employee to sit on the computer and write, then demanding strict working hours is a waste of precious potential.
As I’m writing this article, it’s 6.45 in the morning. By the time I get to the office, I’ll probably have finished it. I will probably leave the office around 2PM when I’ve been there for 4 hours, while being productive for 9. Everybody wins.
As a manager you might be afraid that if you don’t keep an eye on everyone from 9 to 5, he wont work at all. You can’t walk into his house to check if he’s really doing something at 5 AM or is he watching cat videos at Facebook.
However, Jeff Boss, a leadership coach and a former Navy SEAL, said that “it’s certainly a manager’s role to breed the right working environment that gets results. So, if that means letting his or her people work virtually so they can tend to personal appointments, do it.”
He added that a manager has to “find the right temperature at which to set work processes and adapt from there.”
I’d welcome having a coffee or a meeting with my boss at 6AM, I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping at this time.
So how can we work together?
Keeping The Leaders Happy
If we can know what all our friends are doing, what they’re eating or thinking due to Facebook and other social networks, then surely implementing an application or a program that measures our work is not too hard.
To keep your leader happy you need trust. Luckily or unfortunately, trust is based on experience and that means it takes time to form.
If I’ve been working with someone for years, I know what he’s doing and I don’t worry. Yet you can’t wait years to get your teams to maximum productivity.
You need help.
There are a lot of project management tools that help with that. You could use Basecamp for project management or just have a chat based system. But you need to have an online system that everyone can contribute 24 hours a day.
We’re using our own Weekdone’s weekly progress reporting application that is based on the PPP (Plans, Progresses, Problems) methodology. This gives both the manager and an employee a daily overview about everything going on in a company or a team.
This means that with a quick look at my company’s feed, I always know what’s going on.
A lot of people use Excel based shared documents or e-mail but this is actually not structured enough and gets confusing really quickly.
We, in addition to main tools, use Skype chats where everyone can contribute. When our sales team gets a new big client, they can share it with everyone. People will see it, if they come online to start their workday. Even if it’s 4 o’clock in the morning.
If our designer finished the SlideShare presentation I need at 3AM, I’ll find out the moment I wake up and I can react to it. And our manager knows everyone is doing their job.
The same system works not only for unconventional office hours, but for handling remote or international teams.
At the same time, using progress reporting or project management in you’re downtown office gives reassurances to your internal communication and increases your productivity.
In the end, I think, the most important thing is that keeping tabs on progress and achievements is more important than keeping tabs on time.
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