There’s so much thought going around about flexible hours and working remotely. Some companies thrive by these methods, some are slowly trying it out, and some companies — because of the way they’re setup — cannot implement these new ways in any way logically & logistically possible.
Neither way is right or wrong.
It basically comes down to how your business is set up, what you produce, how you work, and what industry you’re in.
Limitations of the industrial age
If you’re not working in a factory where human input is constantly needed to move things around, then Yes, you can have everyone work under a flexible schedule. Unless, your factory is run by robots that you monitor remotely. Not sure if we’re there yet.
The current 9–5 way of working comes from the industrial age which relies on the employee’s constant output. Showing up whenever at this job would be detrimental to the overall production.
How your company is currently running
If you’re running a creative agency or a consultancy, your team may consists of account managers, designers, developers. In some other intertwined industries, jobs like growth hacking and customer support are the norm. These job descriptions are completely different from one another, yet each group depends on the other to get the job done.
Lets look at all this professions and see if there’s some wiggle room for flexibility.
Designers & developers as the special ones
I’ve put both of these disciplines under one roof, not because they are the same exact thing, but because their nature and pace of work is quite similar to one another. People working in these disciplines are always churning out work fast and working in bursts.
These jobs are not your typical 9–5 grind. The energy needed to deliver is tremendous that you can’t just turn it On with a flip of a switch, no matter how experienced you are. At most, a good developer can work 1.5–3 straight hours with a major break in between. Sometimes the task at hand can be so daunting, that even after 3 hours of focused work, the developer might be done for the day, or at least done for a big chunk of the day.
Being a designer differs from the rest
Working as a designer requires a big well of mental resourcefulness when coming up with a solution. Designers are always inventing new stuff for the client. Something not other jobs can claim to be doing. Sometimes the inspiration bug may strike the designer at night when out with friends, in which the designer must quickly pull out their phone to jot down an idea, or the spark is forever gone.
When should they all show up?
The only time designers & developers must show up during the regular hours is when something is expected of them that particular day. Or when the final due-date strictly must not be missed. However, after the designer has taken the direction from the creative director, they can pretty much work on their pace until the presentation is due, time permitting.
Exceptions to the rule
Unless you’re working on a project with a super-tight deadline and dwindling cash, then unfortunately, Yes, everyone must show up at the same time, and maybe even overstay their welcome. These working conditions are acceptable if they occur once in a while. But, if the company’s culture is setup as such, then Houston might have a problem.
Growth hackers as the new bread of saviors
Growth-hacking is one of those new professions that we’re still trying to figure out what it is exactly. One thing’s for sure: its benefits far outweigh the conundrum around it. If you want to find out more about growth-hacking, visit the Growth hackers website.
However, lets get back to our subject at hand: Should everyone show up at the same time? —One of the things that a growth-hacker does is find various way to “grow” your company. There are no set rules, but a “growth-hacker” must have a hunch about the very latest in your industry/world and act accordingly to increase your company’s visibility. A PR tactic of sorts, but only a part of it.
Growth-hacking is a discipline where you’re constantly busy, in your mind, to say the least. Even if the growth-hacker shows up during the regular hours, their mind is constantly racing by being on the lookout for pings and opportunities in social media, internet, blogs. They don’t have to show up during the regular hours, but they have to act throughout the day, whatever it is that they’re doing (code, optimize, write, share).
In a creative agency (marketing/web/design/development), account managers are always going back and forth with the client and reporting back to the team. Sometimes this job is a cross between project management and client relations. It’s always in flux. As such, account managers, must always be in early and probably leave last, with ad-hoc meetings in between.
Corporate/business clients are most likely working during 9–5 regular hours — account managers are their first contact so they have to start early and organize the day ahead for everyone in production.
Customer care specialists
If you’re running a company that sells a product (digital or physical) you will need customer care specialist to make sure every customer is happy and understood. Depending on your company’s reach and size, customer care people may be working around the clock divided in 3-4 shifts during the day. If you’re doing really well, it’s always best to hire back-up customer-care specialist just in case someone doesn’t show up or needs a rest from this very demanding job position.
Jobs that fall into this category are: receptionists, maintenance, security, kitchen, office management, and so forth. While jobs that bring in the money (creative, development, sales, marketing) may be the bread-and-butter of the company, these above-mentioned operational jobs are the heartbeat and blood of it. Everyone working in these positions must show up on time. The well-being of your company depends on these departments running smoothly.
As a rule: jobs in production (designer, developer, growth) can have flexible hours, while other ones (account managers, customer care, operational) must show during the regular hours because our business counterparts who need our services are most likely grinding the 9–5.
Office space as a gathering hut
The ideal situation is to have an office with 24-hr access. This scenario requires extra expenditures, but it could be worth exploring. Yes, we all have laptops and can work from home, but it’s super beneficial to have a work environment that associates with productivity, progress, serenity, and positive energy. A place which everyone can associate with creative time.
What about the company culture?
If you’re working in an environment where strictly disciplined culture is of the most importance to you, then Yes — it’s a great thing for everyone to show-up and be a part of the journey.
However, if you want to give up office politics, rules, dogmas, and instead focus on getting things and done and being extremely productive — then offering flexibility in exchange for full-on dedication from your professional employees, might be the way to go. This flexible culture, could prove much more satisfying once everything is said and done.
For this approach to work you will need:
- Highly skilled individuals so you can fully rely on their output
- Conscientious employees so they’re always doing their right thing (trust)
- Ability to manage clients expectations (and yours, as well)
— Rome wasn’t built in a day
- Grateful co-workers who are willing to give back just as much for the amazing work-conditions you have created for them.
Open floor plans, or closed behind the door?
I, for one, have always been a fan of open offices, but recently I have found that distractions that come with it outweigh the benefits. There are times when I can even blame myself for interrupting others while they may have been producing their best work.
Maybe one solution could be a semi-open layout with offices being behind glass walls, where you still get the sense of openness/togetherness while everyone is getting their fair share of time and space (or space-time, if you’re into stuff like that).
So should everyone still show up, or not?
Office space helps our social life and mental health. Working alone, away from everyone else, may seem more productive at first, however we wont be producing in the long term if we’re not focusing on others for a change and getting along via a small face-to-face chit-chat. Your mind, muse, and inspiration will thank you for it.
Maybe Campaign Monitor’s new office space is an inspiration or a distraction? We’ll leave that for you to decide.
Our thoughts on all this conundrum
Working and producing during regular hours is important for our well-being. Each and everyone of us works differently during different times in our lives and seasons. In spring we might be more giddy to rise and shine early, while in winter our biorhythm may slow down and make us want to curl up and work in front of a fire-place.
I personally believe that routine is important in a person’s life. We have to be flexible enough with everyone’s time, but reinforce a culture of “showing-up” and getting down and dirty while utilizing everyone’s positive energy. Once we leave our work behind for the day, we can focus on our friends and family. And, remember, it’s Ok, from time-to-time, to bring your work at home. Nothing is ever permanent. If we do something once, it wont turn into a habit. Being conscious about these little tiny details helps us relieve tension and be Ok with things being in the flux.
Progress does not depend on following a few pre-determined steps, rather it’s about being aware of the changes around us and acting upon our predictive analytical mind.