In our work-lives we are encouraged to keep tabs on one another in order to ensure general well-being at work and at home. This might include asking how someone is feeling if she is late on a deadline, or making sure someone is doing alright at home if he is out of the office more often than what would seem normal.
That’s good stuff, and it’s healthy. As co-workers, we desire to see our fellows achieving great things, and a troublesome illness or home-life is the opposite of greatness. In fact, troublesome home-life can be dangerous. It is our responsibility to ensure that our co-workers are safe.
But it is also dangerous to suppose that we need to be arbiters of each other’s hourly accountability throughout the workday. Offices throughout the nation have taken it upon themselves to construct white-boards and accountability charts that show who is where, and when. Outside of many a cubicle are the words “At lunch, back at 12:30,” or, “Dr’s Appointment until 3:15.”
What is the point of this? Honestly…What is the point of advertising your whereabouts at all times to your peers and subordinates?
A standard answer might be that it allows others to know why you’re not in your office, and when they can expect you back.
But that’s self-inflicted red tape, and it’s harmful to company culture. When you’re not in your office, it’s obvious that you’re not in your office. And frankly, as long as you’re not goofing off and/or misusing company time, it does not need to be of any concern to your peers where you are and when you’ll be back.
Here’s why this is important: when everybody feels like they have to record and predict their hourly whereabouts throughout the day, the resulting culture states, “We do not trust each other to give our best work; we suspect that some people might be out of their office goofing off, wasting time.” The reality is that we are professionals who can be trusted with our time.
If an employee or co-worker has a history of goofing off or wasting time, perhaps a system needs to be in-place for him or her so that everyone knows where he or she is at all times. Otherwise, if you compose the vast majority of individuals who use their time at the office maturely and appropriately, you do you: leave your cell phone number at the door so that others may call you if they need you while you’re at lunch, at an appointment, dropping a deuce, or taking a walk for some fresh air…Your peers and subordinates shouldn’t be keeping tabs on you. Get rid of that whiteboard and that accountability chart. You are a professional.
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