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Task Based Corporate Work

Work is done virtually or in office but by task
  (+2, -3)
(+2, -3)
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I've noticed at many corporations I've consulted for that there is a lot of unnecessary waste in making personnel commute in and then stick around for 8 hours. For one thing, many (not all) who commute in could do 50% or more of their work "virtually", from home. Some companies allow this to alleviate commuting time, but more need to do it.

The other issue is that too many workers are there just because they have to be and are killing time to pass the day because they aren't given enough work. What happens is that they are then given "busy work", work that is meant to keep them busy which would be more efficiently done another way, or, as is more often the case, work that ultimately serves no purpose other than to keep them busy since the company is paying them anyway.

My solution would be to cut employees days in the office by at least 50%, having them come on preferably no more than one or two days a week, or even only once ever two or three weeks. But that's already happening for some, but this needs to increase.

The second part is what would make it feasible, and that is to offer tasks to be done and have those posted and then claimed by each worker as they finish their previous task. Each task will be assigned a completion time, so the person choosing can assess whether they think it's reasonable to take that task in the time frame allotted for it.

The thing that would scare employers is "What if they goof off though and don't do the job in timely fashion? That's why I want them HERE so I can WATCH them and 'crack the whip' if they slow down!!!" And what would scare the employees is "Well what if they say a task should take 2 hours and it is harder than their estimate and it takes 4 hours???"

That will have to be addressed case-by-case. The company can institute some guidelines with potential consequences. For example, if an employee starts a task and realizes he or she is on pace to take longer than allowed he or she should notify the manager who would then be reasonable in judgment and, if s/he deems it to be true, s/he would extend the time frame to one that he and the employee compromise on. If an employee is always taking too long to finish tasks, or always calling in to ask the manager to extend the time for each task, the manager can follow usual procedures just as if the employee were working too slowly in the office, leading to disciplinary action or termination if necessary.

For fairness, some tasks will actually take a little less time than the time frame given and some will take a little longer. When someone finishes a task earlier, the time saved can act as a "credit" for that person, so if the same person takes longer on another task it is "debited" from that credit. For example, Jane does 4 tasks in one day, each one is 2 hours long. She finishes tasks A and C each 10 minutes early, and tasks B and D each 5 minutes late. So she has 20 minutes credit, and 10 minutes debit, for a finishing of 10 minutes credit. If someone is finishing every month with a severe "debit" of minutes, he or she will be worked with to improve on that, and if he or she cannot, then procedures are followed for disciplinary action up to termination.

I think employees would be happier being at home without someone looking over their shoulders, and their work can be assigned and tracked fairly. A person can work at his or her own pace within reason. A parent can care for a sick child and not take a sick day. Millions of $$$ will be saved on gas and tolls, fewer car accidents will happen, people will be able to eat more healthily, people will generally be happier, employers will no longer be able to take advantage of employees by keeping them past working hours and employees will no longer be able to 'sneak' out of doing work. Businesses can reduce the number of cubicles and offices and save on office space by setting up general use cubes and offices to be used by the 20-50% of people who show up to the office on any given day; they can save on square footage of office space as well as the bills that go with them. Not to mention then can cut back on coffee and other amenities for the employees in the office.

With the technology we have today, this is all possible to do and track online using a firewalled VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection from the home of the employee.

The goal is to make everything fair so that the businesses get what they're paying employees for and so that employees are happier and less stressed and therefore more productive.

JohnnyB11, Aug 27 2009

ROWE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ROWE
Results-Only Work Environment [tatterdemalion, Aug 28 2009]

TED Dan Pink http://www.ted.com/..._on_motivation.html
Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation [tatterdemalion, Aug 28 2009]

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       [marked-for-deletion] "piecework", "work at home" and "work at home piecework" are widely known to exist.
FlyingToaster, Aug 27 2009

       But this is different from piecework because employees are paid hourly or by salary. The work is pieced out in tasks, but in traditional "piecework" it is also PAID by piece. My model would pay employees traditionally, not by task.
JohnnyB11, Aug 27 2009

       The other problem is the overhead of administering such task management system. This may work for companies with extremely well defined tasks. However, if those tasks are so well defined, they become a commodity and are off- shored or contracted out pretty quick.
The rest of the companies deal with complex situations that make predicting a fair length for a task a major undertaking (waste of time). That's why most good companies try to stay away from micromanaging their employees (and hire employees who don't need to be micromanaged). That way they limit the huge overhead associated with this fine grained task definition you describe. [-]
ixnaum, Aug 28 2009

       It sounds like you're talking about results-oriented work environments, which are more and more commonly found and will continue to be so. If that's not what you're talking about, you should learn more about it, since it's a better idea than yours, I think. This 2-hours, 4-tasks, ten minutes debit credit business - whatever that is, it's for the birds.   

       In a ROWE environment there is no requirement to be "in the office" at any particular time, or at all, for that matter. All meetings are optional. The only requirement is that the job gets done satisfactorily.
tatterdemalion, Aug 28 2009

       Not so fast. Lots of pros, too - see the second link.
tatterdemalion, Aug 28 2009

       // I'm also entirely convinced //   

       Wow. That was easy.
tatterdemalion, Aug 28 2009

       Baked to a nice crispy shell, imho.
RayfordSteele, Aug 28 2009

       " Good employees will produce a recoverable yield between 50% and 55% of time at work. Exceptional staff may get to as high as 65%. "   

       huh, that seems to make sense. but as a contractor I would put the number around 90%. OF course technically I'm not an employee. The decision to contract is partly about control and partly about money. It is a little different I suppose.
bammin, Aug 28 2009

       [admin: I agree that this is an existing ideal (if not system), with various people inventing mechanisms to do task-oriented management, and various other people rediscovering some hard truths about human behavior in organisations. Because this kind of thing is hard to search for if one doesn't know the buzzwords, and because the organization of labor is a field of interest not just to experts, I'd like to keep the idea around, even though it would technically be somewhere between "widely known" and "WIBNI" among e.g. people who study management.]
jutta, Oct 19 2009

       [Unabubba] - I assume you're talking about task-based work here, ie where an individual is expected to "produce" content that is easily valued? That kind of assessment especially seems to be relevant to "produce" that is quality irrelevant, or at least is subject to binary quality requirements ie the report is writtten, rather than the report was high quality and will add value.   

       How much of the office/corporate workforce does that really cover? I haven't worked in a role where I "produce" a product that could be assessed so easily in a very long time. None of the guys that work for me are either.   

       I couldn't imagine a (corporate/office) role existing where [johnny]'s view of task allocation/completion would work, as everything I do is quality dependent, much more than quantity. Maybe I'm viewing the world from my viewpoint here, but how much work (that's done in an office) can be measured in pure quantitative ways? Can't we train monkeys or AI's to do that sort of stuff and leave the creative and analytical work to the intelligent people?
Custardguts, Oct 20 2009


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