In a bunch of management articles and blogs I’ve read in the last few years, there is more and more discussion about the ever-growing amount of time being wasted in the office (remember when all your office staff worked in the office?). It still happens with personnel there, at home, and also with staff in the field.
The issue I’ve had from the beginning of my first becoming a manager, then an owner, and now an industry-consultant is to find what is the right balance between checking in on staff and what amounts to spying on employees.
I will confess that while at work I’m all about work, and that is pretty much what I expected from my employees, and that’s what I teach my clients to expect from their employees. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for time to… just hang out, chat, and share a laugh. Remember, we come to work as much to socialize as well as just to collect a check.
To my mind, that time of coming together whether in the break room for office staff or at the local 7-Eleven ™ or Circle K™ is vital to team building. It’s worse when people are “stealing” productive time to do solo-time wasting activities.
Yes, COVID has changed things for now, but in the long run, I believe more people will be working safely in an office again or at least some hybrid of home and office. Productivity studies and issues of disconnection from the company are still pointing to the need for face-to-face time and not just FaceTime or Zoom Meetings.
A friend of mine who worked his whole life in big corporate America told me that there was an art to always looking busy whether it was pouring over stacks of reports in the old days when stuff got printed that then turned into staring at the computer when the stuff moved to digital. Productivity didn’t change much… People just found new ways to look busy.