business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB user Jeff Gartner:

Kevin, this is a response to the posting from your reader who says "it’s not appropriate for employees to shop on company time.  It’s a form of stealing … " I really believe this reflects an anachronistic style of management, where employees are evaluated by their seat (or office) time rather than what they're accomplishing. As long as an employee completes their designated tasks and productively accomplishes their goals or objectives, why should it matter where they do their work or how long it takes (of course meeting required deadlines) or if they take a break to take care of some personal business? After all, many of these same employees have their family time in the evening or on weekends interrupted by their job assignments. 

Organizations such as Netflix already recognize this, with employees taking vacation time as needed rather than a prescribed amount of days. While acknowledging that not every person may be sufficiently responsible to succeed in the Netflix type of environment, many are and even more will step up to the challenge if given the opportunity. 

Some educational reform initiatives similarly recognize this, taking their cues from online instructional programs, where content mastery is the objective rather than seat time (some master the content in 4 weeks, some in the usual 16 weeks, and others may take much longer).

By the way, I've worked from my home since 1990, and consider myself to be very productive and get at least as much done as someone who is required to park their rear end in their cubicle for 8 hours every day.

On the same subject, MNB user Becky Nichols wrote:

Of course this comes to you from my office email address, maybe you already have a feel for what I’m about to say. As a company when we brought out servers in house to protect the integrity of our inter office network, we went through a process of figuring out what content to prevent employees from viewing and what to not block.

We found that in this day in age, our managers are using social networking to communicate with their employees, so we allow employees to use Facebook on company time with the expectation that they are using it for company purposes while they’re on the clock or for personal while they are on break time. We find that many of our managers don’t take breaks so taking a few minutes to make purchases online during the busiest time of the year is just fine for us. Of course, working in a retail environment only buyers and managers have computers in front of them while working; the average employee only has access while in the break room.

As a response to the opinion of one viewer, this is my way of thinking about it: having someone else clock out for you so you can leave early is stealing from the company, not sneaking a few minutes to order a couple of gifts  when as a manager you don’t get much time to take an actual break in the 12 hour work day.

I agree. While clearly there can be abuses, the “online shopping at work is stealing” mindset is 20th century thinking...and companies that engage in it will find it harder to compete for 21st century employees.
KC's View: