Present and Incorrect

It’s thirty seven and a half hours per week.  Monday to Friday, nine until five with half an hour for lunch.  It’s important that you are here on time every morning.  At 9.00am precisely.  And I don’t mean walking in the door at nine or making a cup of coffee, but coat off and logged on and ready to go.  I’m less concerned if you stay behind after 5pm of course, that’s up to  you.  Your lunch break is 12-12.30.  Please make sure that you stick to that timeslot so that I know where you are if I need anything and I can manage other people’s expectations.  The business needs to know when people will be available.  I do like to see you at your desk.  Visibility is important.  You should be aware that I can see your screen from my office, so I will be able to see if you are on one of those social media sites.  That isn’t work, so keep it for after hours please. When it comes to the dentist or the doctors, make sure that you book the appointment at the end of the day, and please make the time up within the same week.  Personal calls and emails should be limited to official breaks.  Working from home?  I know people just want to watch Homes Under the Hammer.   It doesn’t work for this sort of job you know.  And if you are not here in the office, then I can’t assess what you are doing and the contribution you make. If it’s the Nativity play or parent’s evening, then it is best if you take half a day’s annual leave.  I can’t set a precedent because then everyone else will want it and I won’t be able to say no to anyone else.  What is really important is how long you are at your desk.  Then when it comes around to your annual performance appraisal I will know you have been working hard or not.

Won’t I?

6 thoughts on “Present and Incorrect

  1. I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve heard this (or a variation of this). It makes me sad every time. Nothing kills motivation like saying…”we don’t trust you” in the politest way possible.

  2. Appalling really, people will feel like acting out if they don’t receive encouragement and motivation. This is the perfect way to annoy employees and mean they don’t work as hard as they aren’t happy within their job role.

    Awful behaviour.

  3. And there’s me thinking HRM was the humane alternative to its predecessor Scientific Management. All those glossy 14th and 15th edition textbooks of some American ‘Guru’ on how to engage and commit employees to the organisational cause of ever greater profit are nought but picturesque utopian dreams. Collective exploitation has been replaced, it appears, by individual exploitation.

  4. I wrote this blog in about three minutes flat, after one of my team, while joking about working from home, said she was ‘present and incorrect’. As some posts do, it just came in a moment and I didn’t reflect on it all that much. People have commented in tweets about this post about trust, and how sad it is. For me there are two things going on when these scenario arises.
    One is certainly trust. For some people that is their world view – people need to be kept an eye on, because they don’t or can’t trust. I found this very true when I worked in logistics – the whole management ethos was geared around managing every moment to ensure there was no slacking off possible.
    The other time that arises is somewhat different. It arises because, sound the klaxon perhaps, this is the way we have always done things. For many of us this is the way that we have always worked. We know that we are more likely to do something when it is a habit. It becomes ingrained without real active thought about what it is the right thing, or more importantly, still the right thing. My favourite quote from the fascinating ‘A Year Without Pants’ is this: ‘every tradition that we hold dear was once a new idea that someone proposed, tried and found valuable, often inspired by a previous tradition that had been outgrown’.
    This is the 9-5. A tradition that has been outgrown by better possibilities. This is where HR has a role – to challenge and to role model. I am proud to say that most of my team do some sort of flexible something or other. We can introduce the idea, slowly if we have to, that there is more to work than sitting at a desk. At which you can of course, not be contributing very much at all.

  5. I’ve just had a mainsheet through from HR magazine, citing a recent Global Evolving Workforce report (compiled from a survey of almost 5,000 employees worldwide, around 500 of whom are based in the UK). The report suggests that in the UK one-third of employees BELIEVE colleagues who work from home are less productive, compared to just 16% who think their output increases.

    There’s something about the perception of being physically present at a desk that really needs to change.

    Here’s the full article:

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