Alarm Clock: Disrupt

For a little under 100 years, we have been following the example set out by a man named Robert Owen, who actually described it 100 years before that.

In 1817 he suggested the concept of 8 hours work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest.  Famously the Ford company implemented it in 1914 and it increased the company’s productivity and output and their profit margins doubled. And then finally in 1937 the 8-hour work day was standardized in the United States, and like the rest of their culture, was absorbed around the world.

We have been following that process ever since.

40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, five days a week. More specifically, 9am to 5pm.

However, as some people might have noticed if they look around, other things have changed since 1937, so why hasn’t this?

Sure, my job of web development didn’t exist back then, but I wake up, commute and go home on the same schedule as switchboard operator from the 1930’s.

I personally believe the whole system needs a shake up, and I think we would all be better off for it.

I had originally written this blog post with an elaborate thesis on how extending ‘core’ hours not only goes towards solving traffic congestion by spreading “rush hour” over a 3-hour period, increases companies opening times allowing for more business, and providing a better work/life balance for Early Birds/Night Owls… but that’s been tread before, so why not go more extreme.

Let’s do away with numbers entirely. Let’s throw away the labels of a 40-hour week and an 8-hour day. Let’s encourage working smarter not longer. Let’s change the definition of what ‘work’ is.

I am an employee of OPC I.T., and part of my contract states that I will work 40-hours a week, and that those 8-hour days will take place during ‘core hours’ between 8-5.  It’s a standard contract.

What would happen if we throw that out and say “You will conduct your required duties to meet and deliver on projects as required”.

If I can get a project delivered in 4 hours instead of 8, shouldn’t I be rewarded rather than given another 4 hours of work?

Now imagine this across the Public Service?

Imagine our public servants who are incentivised to get their work done efficiently and effectively.

Rather than a policy document being written over the course of a week, it’s written, reviewed and approved in the same time because they didn’t space that task out over the 40 hours they have to fill each week, they got it done, did their job and went home to spend time with their family.

I’ve worked in the public service at the start of my career well before I was at OPC, and I remember being told to slow down to make sure there was enough work for the whole week.

Valuing Outcomes over Hours creates flexible work environments, and promotes the workers who deliver outcomes, not those that can sit in a chair for 8-hours.


* Listing Image: 9 to 5 / 20th Century Fox

Date posted:
30 November 2018
Authored by :
Toby Wild