Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The "Goof-Off Expense Scale"

Comment made to AdAge article:  Link

Phil, as usual, I like your take on things. These days productivity and efficiency have been usurped by socializing and 'positive vibe' in the workplace, and small agencies lead these kind of cultural changes. The changes will only be exacerbated by the arrival of 'Millennials' onto the scene, the oldest of whom are either just 24, or as old as 29 today, depending on how you slice things. If 'Gen X' was the 'Me Generation, these young people are the 'Collaborative Generation' and expect to work as a group and 'give back' in their leisure AND work time.

Having worked for many years in both private and open-office settings, I have to say I believe what Jeremy is saying as it's accepted that it takes fully 15-20 minutes to become fully engrossed in a project, hence only a fully uninterrupted environment is going to lead to top productivity, whether we're talking about an individual trying to concentrate, or a group trying to get through an agenda without distractions. Unfortunately the demand for 'cost savings' from shareholders has steam-rolled over recognition that productivity and efficiency should trump other things -- the open office milieu is the status quo today.

To Bob's POV: "Here's a novel idea: Get the work done, no matter how long or how little time it takes," I'd only add the suggestion that, at some point, management bring up with the team the 'Goof-Off Expense Scale'. My employees said the amount of time spent on 100% personal pursuits online was 'negligible' and 'doesn't effect my productivity', so I did an analysis of how many seconds were spent opening, interacting with and closing windows for IM, social sites, downloads, etc. during any random hour of the day and demonstrated to them that it added up to about 12 minutes of every hour, or 20% of their work week.

In slow times your people might need online distractions to keep from getting bored and it might even provide creative inspiration and new skill-set building, but unless they're committed, universally, to applying Bob's 'novel idea' through the busy times, putting in an additional 20% per week out of their personal time without complaint, their salaries should be adjusted downwards to accommodate for this new intrusion of personal time into their company-paid time. Up to 90% of the interruptions that come through on smartphones are personal (depending on the individual), not business-related, so the same applies there.

Sometimes a good defense of your bottom line means a good offense that includes open and frank discussions about what makes an agency shine -- not just creative inspiration but the hours (i.e. minutes and seconds) spent against cranking out agency work, including white papers and recos.

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