Why employees shouldn't have contracted hours

Whatever the size of company, the traditional 9-to-5, 5-day working week is… traditional. It worked as a simplified measurement of productivity.in the days when employees stood on a production line. The workplace today has changed, and so have the employees’ lives and expectations, so does the 9-to-5 schedule still deliver?

One of our favourite business books here at Gazella is ‘Drive (The Surprising Truth about what motivates us)’ by Daniel Pink. Pink argues that ‘financial incentives are no longer enough to give a business an edge: in an economy driven by ideas and creativity, it's more effective to give workers a sense of purpose, of mastery, of autonomy over their time and their tasks’.

In other words, winning businesses have the edge because their employees: 

  • enjoy what they do and have a reason to do the work they do,
  • develop the skills to do the tasks you are asking them to complete, and
  • have a level of freedom over how and when the work is done.

Science has proved that motivated, engaged employees are more productive. Set the scene, set the task and people will deliver more. It’s a win-win situation. Here are four reasons why we believe you need to end set working hours:

1. Working hours are productivity killers - Productivity isn’t tied to attendance. Being in the building for 8 hours a day doesn’t mean that an employee is delivering their best work for you or your clients.

2. Working hours don’t build trust - Employees should passionately want to meet their goals, so let them do it in their way.They’re more likely to own their work and be the best they can be if given the freedom to decide how the work is done.

3. Working hours are distracting - It’s unlikely that all jobs and projects fit into a 9-to-5 schedule, so why have your employees thinking about going home, rather than meeting goals? Leave your employees to determine how long they need to get the work done. Set their targets based on output (what they deliver), not input (how many hours / how hard they work).

4. They undermine teamwork - Working in teams increases productivity, so let your employees focus on meeting team goals and collaborating to make things happen, rather than work as individuals moving through a time-bound day.

Dropping standard hours in favour of a focus on meeting goals may require a cultural shift, but get it right and your employees are at work and fresh when they need to be, not just when their contract tells them that they have to be there. If Dan Pink is right (and we have to agree with him), increased autonomy equals increased happiness and productivity at work.  Net result for you - increased trust and improved ROI for your business.