A hallmark of the industrial revolution was the punch card system. Factory workers clocked on and off by getting their cards stamped by a clerk or later by machine. The manager knew exactly how much time each of their staff had spent on the job by looking at their stamped times.
Some modern workplaces feel like they are operating under a similar framework. The boss sits there watching the clock in the morning and noting down when every employee dawdles in.
While this way may ensure you are getting the most hours out of your employees, it doesn't necessarily mean you are getting the best work out of them. A business doesn't pay staff to keep seats warm, it pays them to get the work done.
The question a business should ask itself is not always “how many hours can I squeeze from my employees?”, but “how productive and enthusiastic can I make them about their work?”
Refocusing staff measurements around workload rather than hours clocked can give them a greater sense of control over and loyalty to their work. This means giving employees greater flexibility in their working hours.
Everyone has external demands on their time during work hours, whether that is medical appointments, home deliveries, visiting tradesmen or family commitments.
These days there are plenty of technologies that help a person work from home with minimal disruption to their productivity compared to when they are physically present in the office. Many programs are available in online versions that can be used anywhere there is access to the internet, and not just in the office.
And it won’t necessarily require paying for more office equipment. Employees often have a computer at home and an internet connection that they can use.
An open minded approach to working hours and locations can save a business in staff costs, too. If a female employee take maternity leave, making arrangements for part time work from home can mean the difference between holding onto that employee's experience and starting over in hiring and training a new employee.