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Ali Baba and the Forty Hours

You have enrolled yourself as a corporate soldier and out of the 168 hours in a week you sell 40 hours to a company of your choice but, like any person-for-profit or person-for-charity, you tend to either short-change or WYAO.

The rising trend in the digitized workplaces around the world is such that the workforce spends significant amount of time in personal correspondence and recreation: twittering, facebooking, IMing, blogging (like I’m doing right now), MMOGing, web-surfing, mouse-clicking-with-no-purpose-whatsoever and so on. On top of that, of course, the traditional forms of ‘time-pass’ still exist. For example, telephoning, texting, chitchatting, doodling, looking out the window, staring at the ceiling, swatting imaginary flies, and various other ingenious forms of dawdling.

On the other hand, we do come across a certain percentage (the number being high or low, depending on the company’s ‘culture’) of the workforce that seem to be clocking in 50, 60 (face values) or 100 (a real value) hours a week. Some workaholics go to the extent of initiating project discussions over lunch and corporate parties (Well, for some this might also be essential as these are the times for casual connection). Interestingly, some are embarrassed to log the actual hours spent, if that is drastically above 50 hours, due to the fear of being misinterpreted as inefficient, a show-off,  a drone or a dunce.

Surely, a few budding soldiers (and some martyrs) do exist in this world who are really diligent and deliver quality stuff at the same time and it could probably be YOU (Ahem!).

Oftentimes, work, especially of the managerial nature, cannot be quantified and we have to look into the performance rather than merely the presence. A manager can be at home in bed but be planning for the next day at work or freaking his/her brains out over a work issue. Sadly, another manager may be ‘perpetually’ at the office but be hounding all the subordinates. The length of a manager’s presence in the office may make little sense if the width and the depth of the presence are not taken into consideration. (This applies to non-managers as well for similar reasons.)

But, again, performance is difficult to quantify and companies are compelled to remunerate (the wage, the salary) the workforce on the basis of their presence  but reward (the bonus, the promotion, the pat on the back) them on the basis of their performance . The exception might be some manufacturing companies where workers are paid by their performance in terms of product output. Employees in some carpet factories are paid in proportion to the square-inches of carpet they weave.

Collection of numerical data is easy (well, relatively) but their interpretation is dauntingly challenging. Sometimes, we have to rely on faith and gut sense. You, as a person, know very well whether you are short-changing or WingYAO and we can only hope that you are balancing your act.