Why you need to stop obsessing about working hours

It feels a bit strange that in 2019 we are still talking about working hours and how different they are from hours worked

It feels a bit strange that in 2019 we are still talking about working hours and how different they are from hours worked. How many hours someone spends in the office. How many coffee or cigarettes breaks they take (Don’t do cigarettes. It’s bad for your health). Or worse, how much time they spend chatting next to the water cooler, or coffee machine.

Working SMART instead of working HARD

During the height of the industrial revolution, having a factory job was the thing. We would probably be working as part of an assembly line. Each one of us would be specialized in doing the same repetitive task over and over. The longer we were there, the more we would produce.

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A long time ago we tried to do something similar in I.T. We estimated our projects in man/hours. We used to estimate the output in lines of code. Heck, we even created the role of Line Manager to help all of this go smoothly. Does this role sound familiar? That is because the Line Manager comes from Assembly Line Manager. We were always bad at coming up with names.

I.T. work is a creative one. Algorithms are not created by spending hours in front of the computer, they are created in your head. Problems are not solved by injecting new lines of code, they are solved by thinking, and sometimes, to properly think, you need to move away from your desk. Move to a new place to stimulate the brain, and then work on the problem.

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Luckily, for some of us at least, over time, we came to realize that outcome is different from output. We understand now that having fewer lines of code is better than more. Why? because it is easier to maintain, review and test.

Hours spent on site are not a synonym for good work. Most of the time the relationship is the complete opposite. If you have a colleague always sitting at their desk without a break, there may be 2 underlying problems and you should try and help him/her.

  • He/she is not good enough (yet) to perform the task in that time-frame. This means you should seek to train or mentor their technical skills.
  • He/she has really bad time-management. This one is harder but it can also be trained.

High performers will be able to work without looking at a computer. Their mind is always debugging and creating new algorithms. They try and find inspiration outside of their own box. Talking with a colleague over coffee. Going outside to look at the street. The most important part of the work happens in the head, not on the keyboard.


It is not rocket science to be a good manager. The job is not to control what your team does. How many breaks they will take. Or at what time they arrive at the office (especially if you don’t know what time they will leave).
Instead maybe bring coffee to the team. Create a good working environment, not a hostile one, and you will see how much more your team will produce.

Lead the way and bring them with you on this journey. Pull them in, don’t push them out.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

You can disagree with me, and that is fair. You can do the complete opposite. But remember, in the end, they are the ones creating the value, not you. If they are not happy, they will find another place. And in today’s market, that’s not a hard task.

Cheers,



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