Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's Up with the Overworking?

The Washington Post yesterday, perhaps in celebration of Labor Day, published a piece that wondered why in the world workers are willingly putting in absurd hours to get ahead. Shouldn't businesses be interested in offering as much flexibility as possible, the story asks, as long as productivity isn't impacted?

It then more-or-less answers its own question: no one has the slightest idea how to define "productivity" in huge swathes of the service economy, so hours are a stand-in. A good lawyer -- according to current logic -- is one that works the longest, pretty much regardless of the quality of those hours. It nicely illustrates the challenge in getting to the point where workers can demand common-sense flexibility. We need to prove that you're making progress, even if you're out of sight (at home, in the coffeeshop) or working odd hours. I have no idea if there's a sweeping answer to this, beyond every prospective employee asking their would-be boss for the metrics used to judge performance and then worrying about those metrics -- and not face time.
Do you guys have any better ideas?

This is a serious concern for more than just balance reasons: it's the workaholics that have the highest blood pressure ...

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