Turning Sunshine and Ice Cream into Productivity
By K. Tamhane

Isn’t it a bit odd that in today’s age of digitalization, most people are still expected to be in the office between 9am and 5pm? Yes, there are certain jobs like doctors and nurses where it’s essential to be physically there and have specific shifts. But most employees just feel imprisoned behind the invisible bars of a "workday".

The tools allow us (and sometimes even force us) to work anytime anywhere. Then, why can we not choose when and where to work? What makes Friday such a special day that it is placed at the top of the "home office" podium? And why just one day after all?

It is quite plausible that home office could be based upon factors other than traditional policy. Some spend more time in traffic and, afterwards, looking for a parking spot. Others are reliable on an unreliable public transport system. Even school holidays affect some more than others. In fact, while parents might struggle to find creative ways of having their children looked after during the summer break, others might find more peace and quiet in the office as a reason to travel into work.

Still, the timesheet mentality is alive and kicking, although we might be thinking about work outside the timesheet hours. This brings us to another question. What constitutes working and what does not? If we use the office hours and presence at the desk as the measure of working, aren’t we ignoring productivity altogether?

Imagine that you went up to your manager at 3pm and said, "I was so productive today that I feel like ending on a great note and going home early". You might be expected to back it up with some clarification around "productive" but might get away with it as an exception. But what if you said, "it’s the first sunny day in two months and I really would love to go out and get some ice cream". Yes, even adults like these simple pleasures. Most of us would consider this an insane act of self-sabotage. But why is it so and, most importantly, should it be so?

Thankfully, the world is changing. New styles of leadership and management are encouraging senior staff to look beyond the nine-to-five box. Flexibility, humanity and a touch of common sense are gaining ground. Although it might just be a matter of time, don’t just hang in there waiting for it to happen. You can be a part of this change starting today.

If you are in a managerial or a team lead position and you see your team working hard, just send them home early when it is quiet in the office. If you see a colleague needing some time for their personal needs, offer them and your manager that you would take over and cover for them. Make life easier for your team members. They will give it back to the company and, most certainly, to you. And maybe, just maybe, all it takes to boost the productivity is some triple scoop ice cream on a bright sunny day!
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