Working Hours at Work

There are some people in my office (and in every other office that exists) who believe in “face-time”. That they need to be present for a certain number of hours every day at work irrespective of whether there is work to do or not. I find this wasteful, and distasteful. I don’t see why I need to spend time in office if I don’t have any work to do, and I consider time spent in office when I’m not working to be a positive waste of time.

Yes, there are times when I do get sucked in to this face-time crap, and just sit on in office when I don’t have anything to do (either there’s nothing to do, or I’m in such a bad state of mind that I’m unproductive). Sometimes, it does make sense simply for the option value – when you’re sitting there, there’s a chance something might strike you and take you past the mental jam you’re currently caught in. But most of the time, this option is worthless.

So recently I was trying to do an analysis of how I spend time at work, and if I get rid of the unproductive stuff (like random chats with colleagues, random reading, etc.) I can divide my time at work into two important components – times when I’m actually doing work, and times when I’m simply waiting to talk to someone, for their inputs, or comments, or whatever else. And when I did further analysis, I realize that the latter took up more time than the former.

Teamwork, integrated teams, helping each other, regular feedback, all these are important. But at the cost of spending several hours in office without actually doing any work? When you could’ve spent that time at home, doing what you really like to do. Especially when you have been given a Blackberry and so can read the inputs at any point of time? And when you have a mobile phone, and have the luxury of being able to log in to work from home..

Of course, the other side of this is that if you bring your work home, the fine line between work and home disappears. You are now always on call, have to be constantly checking your Blackberry. You think twice about leaving home, and the blackberry and the mobile phone, and going off somewhere. It doesn’t make you feel all that good..

Wondering how I can balance this all out. And spend as little time as I need to in office, while still doing the amount of work that I’m expected to do. I guess I simply need to get practical about this and stop bothering about what other people think about my hours, and all such. As long as I do the work.

Last Thursday, working in one long burst, I finished the work I’d set myself for the day and dashed off an email by 4pm. And then realized that it would be at least another 2-3 hours before I could get a response. And so packed off home, since I had some work there (true to expectations, the replies came in after 7pm). I felt good about leaving office when I knew I wasn’t going to be productive. But then there was this strange guilt that the system puts on you for doing like you please, without regard to the system.

Anyways, I need to be more practical about all this, and screw signaling. And to turn around an old Hutch ad, which says “Blackberry from Hutch, to keep daddy away from office”. I say “Blackberry from Hutch, to keep daddy at work even when he’s away from office”.

5 thoughts on “Working Hours at Work”

  1. Aka the Mark Waugh problem. Brother Steve looks like he’s struggling and scrapping and thinking about his game all the time, so cool and languid and horse-betting Mark comes off as less dedicated to his job even if he is as “productive”.

    Solving this is the bosses’ prerogative, I believe. Never to mistake activity for achievement must be hammered into their heads. Leaving this to employees creates a prisoners dilemma where everyone keeps defaulting, for obvious signaling reasons.

  2. You will also the note the perversity apparent here. All through one’s academic life, one sees fighters try to project stud-ness. However, in all but the most entrepreneurial/individualized workplaces, studs have to try to project fighter-ness in order to climb the ladder.

    1. Absolutely. And this is one transition i haven’t managed well. Never bothered to advertise my figherness, which probably explains why I’ve had a lousy career

  3. Work is worship, So if we need to worship god (work) – we have two options; either to go temple and worship or create a small ‘Puja Mandir’ at home and worship(work)

    However this doesn’t go true with companies, because they expect you to go to the temple every day and give a holiday to worship on weekends. However this can be changed to the model where you can worship god everyday at home itself by creating small mandirs (work stations/rooms) and then go to temples only for special occasions (formal office gathering, team building events etc)

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