Real Work As Opposed To Paid Hours
You don’t know what you don’t know. Unfortunately, the complications silhouetting today’s working environment can make transparent, productive operations more difficult to achieve. By the same token, these operations can become more visible than ever before; but there’s a balance to be found which must be maintained.
Consider this: if you know where your employees are at and what they’re doing throughout the course of a given workday, you can better maximize their effort. Say Bill Vril works a 10-hour shift four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Is he actually rendering 40 hours of productivity? How much real work gets done during that shift?
You need to have information available which can help you identify areas that require closer attention. But by the same token, you need to apportion the right amount of resources to this task. If you overspend, then that which you acquire through optimization of Bill Vril’s schedule will be overcome by that which you spend helping him optimize. You’ve erred the other direction! Avoiding that requires approaching the issue with some level of strategy.
Following are several tips to help you optimize operations in a way that is properly manageable, and balanced such that you have a greater likelihood of seeing the results you seek. A few considerable strategies include:
- Determining Which Factors Need To Be More Visible
- Facilitating Visibility
- Comprehensive Monitoring
Factors That Must Be Made Visible
If you don’t have visibility, you may never know how much work our hypothetical employee, Bill Vril, really gets done every day. But if you do have some quotient of visibility, you may see that Bill spends 30 minutes treading water here, 10 minutes checking his email there, 30 minutes chatting with somebody in another department there, and another hour basically procrastinating. This is on top of several fifteen-minute breaks he already takes, and the 1-hour lunch break that is mandatory.
So out of Bill’s 10-hour day, 3 hours and 40 minutes are spent doing that which isn’t productive. You need to give Bill the 15-minute breaks and the 1-hour lunch. This actually increases productivity by helping Bill feel that he isn’t overworked. But the other 2 hours and 10 minutes need to be curbed! But it gets worse. Our hypothetical scenario sounds bad, right? In reality, it turns out that white-collar employees tend to be unproductive about 50% of the time.
Now it’s bad enough that hypothetical Bill is costing you 8 hours and 40 minutes a week, or 416 hours a year. Should Bill’s total worth to the company on an hourly basis be $20 (which it likely isn’t, considering training and benefits), that’s $8,320 a year. If you’ve got twenty employees who are similarly slacking off where they can, then you’re losing $166,400.00 of potential productivity every year.
But if, as the statistics indicate, Bill is really unproductive 50% of the time, that means he’s wasting 80 hours a month, or 960 hours a year. If all things are constant among a twenty-person staff each valued at the same $20 an hour, that’s $384,000 a year you’re just…leaving on the table. This is a problem that needs to be resolved!
So how can you make your management more effective? According to the same source which indicated 50% of white collar employee time is unproductive, approximately 35% of this waste comes from poor management. But you can’t fix a problem you can’t see—it must have the aforementioned visibility.
How can you increase visibility? Well, there are a number of ways. One involves decimal hours. You can convert minutes to decimal hours with OnTheclock.com, since they have a time card calculator that allows you to enter an entire week of in and out times. It then calculates the hours, including lunch and overtime.
The site goes on to outline two additional ways to make the decimal time conversion. Decimal hours can help you more clearly determine how many hours are being worked, and what kind of losses you’re sustaining. Decimal hours also make timestamping more convenient. This is not the only way of expanding visibility, but it is a great way to get a more precise view of your operations. From there, you need to get a little bit more comprehensive, and focus on specific operational areas.
A technique that has become increasingly effective in helping you to keep an eye on employees, and even help them out of difficult situations, is employee monitoring via software—specifically, as pertains to screenshots. Today there are quite a few different monitoring solutions out there; many of which feature screenshots. Several software solutions you might consider include Qustodio, Surfie, ContentBarrier, Norton Family, SpyAgent Standard, Witigo, and ContentBarrier X9; all entries in this “top ten” list.
Which works best for you will depend on several factors: are you on an Apple or a Windows computer? Is the computer for residential use, or is it for employee use? Once you have these questions answered, you can find the best monitoring software, and from there optimize operations via greater visibility.
With screenshot monitoring you can see when employees avoid doing a spreadsheet or writing a report to play an online game or watch an online video. The idea is not to spy, but to analyze the performance. Yes, most apps take screenshots which protect the employer from paying employees who don’t really work. However, such screenshots only represent one aspect of monitoring software ability. The manager of such software has access to all the stats for different projects and can track the efforts of the team.
This method of monitoring can also help you curtail an employee’s access privileges remotely should they be conducting themselves in a way that is unprofitable or dangerous to operations.
A Pragmatic Takeaway
While it’s possible for you to turn a 50% loss in productivity on average to 90% or greater, doing so could cost you quality, and it could increase employee turnover. Treat hired work poorly, be the slave-master instead of a leader, and you will see a significant decrease in revenue numbers.
Being less strident and more gradual in your management transition makes more sense. Should you replace an average of 50% productivity with 75% productivity, you’ll be doing well. You don’t always have to have employees on the clock if you don’t have anything for them to do. Part of streamlining your operation is increasing the skill with which you manage your human assets.
Accordingly, facilitate visibility, and be responsible to balance your progressive strategy such that you manage your own workers the same way you would have someone of higher rank manage you.
It’s vital to allow some level of freedom for employees. Never give them busy work. It turns out a giving heart is a healthy one. This principle extends to the workplace. If you sap their will to go forward, if you totally stifle and micromanage them, appending “busy work” tasks to them whenever downtime occurs, you’re going to demoralize them to the point where you still lose productivity.
Use a proper employee monitoring technique in order to have a perspective whether the employees need more work tasks or do they need work breaks more often. Use them wisely, and you can see the changes is overall productivity.