Photo Credit: Laffy4K
I’m going in to my office for a couple hours tomorrow for a project that came up at 4:30pm on Friday. I was caught completely off guard when my manager encouraged me to enter the hours into peoplesoft so that I get paid overtime.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, or maybe it’s because much of my working life I’ve had my own business but frankly I don’t firmly compartmentalize “work” | “the rest of my life”. Part of this is due to the fact that I’ve always ensured my work has personal meaning to me (with a couple regrettable exceptions). When your work is connected to your values it’s not something you want to leave at the door.
These porous boundaries are amplified for all of us, I think, by web 2.0. The ability to interact professionally or personally is no longer bounded by time or location. When I’m on facebook, am I working or simply hanging out with friends? What if those friends gives me valuable info that I bring into my work role? Or what if I FB Friend someone from work, and we develop a camaraderie which translates to a high-trust culture on the job?
Beyond that, the 9-5 model is based on industrialization and very few of us work in factories. I don’t know about you, but many of my best ideas or insights come outside of 9-5. This weekend I’ve spent several hours reading Finding Dahshaa (and if any canadians want to be flung back in your assumptions about First Nations and the rest of us, this is the book!) and Housecalls by Dogsled. Both will inform, for the better, my approach to my work. Neither are books I’d have read while in Vancouver. So is this work, or pleasure? What about the many times I’m reading blogs and stumble across something that will come to bear on my work? You get the idea.
Conversely, heaven knows many hours between 9-5 are (at least on the surface) not directly yielding any particular results: I may be distracted by my sick dog, I may have intellectually wandered far afield from the task at hand or I may be spending too much time pouring my coffee. For myriad reasons, there’s plenty of time in the office that is not in any obvious, direct way contributing to accomplishment on the job.
What I’m really being paid to do is develop strategies to ensure the north has a world-class cadre of human capital. Whether I do a better or lamer job of this is not a 9-5 question, but a creative, informed, get-it-done question. And work-life balance is not a matter of walking away from this role at 5pm each day, but of ensuring all the parts of me – creative, intellect, spirit, body is nourished in all my environments.
I suppose we stick to pay-the-by-the-hour models because it’s the easiest way to measure something (but what? other than butt in chair?), but it’s certainly not the accurate measure of value provided by employees.
Readers: are you in a similar situation? What do you really get paid for? Have you heard of other compensation models besides piecemeal or performance bonuses?