Face Time vs. Productivity

An article by Tony Schwartz in the “Harvard Business Review” Daily Alert last week titled “Reward Value, Not Face Time” struck a cord with me about the “how” of working these days.

When the recession forced cost cuts, lots of companies allowed staffers to work from home offices.  Part of this was to allow individual flexibility, but much of it was to save office costs for the company.  Now that hiring is starting to pick up, I’m hearing many people say that companies want them physically back in the fold.


Undeniably, there are certainly times to come together as work teams. Much of the time people are far more productive and far happier working in their own space with a more flexible schedule.

Technology has allowed allows us to access all business information in a cloud, re-route phone calls (with no long distance charges anymore) to anywhere in the country or have video conferences from our computers at no charge.  Not commuting saves work time and fuel–which has sky-rocketed in cost lately, in case anyone hasn’t noticed!

I have two clients whose CEOs live in international locations.  I’ve never personally met anyone from one company and only meet occasionally with the CEO from the second company.  I’ve been able to produce great work and exceeded my clients expectations–despite no physical presence.

On the other hand, I just heard about a friend’s husband who interviewed at a regional office for a company who had security cameras in the offices to keep track of workers’ attendance and monitor their daily activities.   How do employees at this firm overcome this extreme lack of trust and stay motivated to produce good work?

Rewarding workers for being in the office is old thinking.  Old thinking filters out the innovative thinkers.   The company is then left with workers who feel entitled to get paid for their physical presence rather than what they produce for a business.

If a company isn’t treating team members as adults with clearly-defined responsibilities and deliverables, then they’ve hired the wrong people–as top managers, a.k.a. spymasters.

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