American workers, on average, spend 45 hours a week at work, but describe 16 of those hours as “unproductive,” according to a study by Microsoft. America Online and Salary.com, in turn, determined that workers actually work a total of three days a week, wasting the other two. And Steve Pavlina, whose Web site (stevepavlina.com) describes him as a “personal development expert” and who keeps incremental logs of how he spends each working day, urging others to do the same, finds that we actually work only about 1.5 hours a day. “The average full-time worker doesn’t even start doing real work until 11:00 a.m.,” he writes, “and begins to wind down around 3:30 p.m.” (NY Times)
Well, if you're like many people at work, you spend at least part of your time in nonwork-related activites, like reading, playing games on the internet, or... blogging.
A few companies are taking the concept of “watch what I produce, not how I produce it” even further. At the headquarters of Best Buy in Minneapolis, for instance, the hot policy of the moment is called ROWE, short for Results Only Work Environment.
There workers can come in at four or leave at noon, or head for the movies in the middle of the day, or not even show up at all. It’s the work that matters, not the method. And, not incidentally, both output and job satisfaction have jumped wherever ROWE is tried.
In other words, what looks like wasting time from where you sit, could be a whirl of creative thought from where I sit. And, with due respect to Mr. Gilbreth, all the energy that’s been poured into trying to force everyone to work at the same pace and in the same way — it seems that’s the real waste of time.
Of course, not everyone can do this. It's nigh impossible to slough off at work in a hospital setting, especially if you're a doctor or nurse. My work is entirely client-driven: if there aren't clients to see, I have no work to do. Of course, many people in the Indianapolis area have been in crisis mode lately, so I haven't had too much downtime.