Oddly enough, in the middle of the digital revolution, time continues to be one of the main criteria for measuring work. Perhaps it is reminiscent of the first industrial revolution, when workers had to stay in factories doing repetitive manual work. If they were not, they did not produce, but they produced, they did not exist.

Today, in most work environments, the brain is more important than the hands. It is already very difficult to measure the effectiveness of our work in terms of time. We are moving towards organizations totally oriented to results. It doesn’t matter when you work, it doesn’t matter where you work, it doesn’t matter how you work. It is only relevant that you achieve the objectives (or that you carry out the tasks that you have entrusted, if you prefer to see it that way), and since each time those objectives or tasks do not depend only on you, it is more necessary than ever to do it collaboratively. Without losing the social component of work.

A thief named time

When in the middle of the digital age a company continues to maintain the time factor as a measure of a job well done, it is leading its working people towards presenteeism. Who has not heard, before a promotion from a colleague, something like: It cannot be denied that Pedro is a hard worker, he has put in many hours. Behind this phrase hides a perception that is still very frequent in some organizations. Both ‘being’ and ‘doing’ matters. On the contrary, surely we have also lived the story of Ana, an effective collaborator who prefers to work while her children do their homework in the afternoon, and also after dinner. She is rarely seen around the office, and she has never asked her boss for a meeting just to have a half hour face-to-face with him. Ana always achieves the goals that are set for her, but she is not ‘present’ in the moments that generate confidence in the eyes of her managers. But your productivity is not rewarded when it comes to promotion


Five steps that take your organization to another level.

To fight against the scourge of presenteeism, you must achieve a company culture in which the “result of work” factor overcomes the factor “time you need to achieve it.” Next I am going to give you five tips to get it. You may think that they are very disruptive, don’t worry, you can surely find a way to adapt them to your organization.

  • Incorporate a policy of ‘work where you want’.

    Think that we take for granted that work happens in certain places, at certain times and with certain types of people. But it’s not like that. Ideas do not necessarily arrive during office hours. More and more cognitive abilities increase when you practice your favorite sport, while watching a series on Netflix or accompanying your children to school. The digital work environment is becoming more liquid and less robust. It’s nothing new. Many of the companies that lead the markets and the market capitalization (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) were born in small garages, in spaces away from expensive and elegant corporate buildings. If the company of the digital age is not able to recognize it, it is going to have very good people wasted

  • Recognize people by ‘doing’, not by ‘being’.

    Do not hesitate to incorporate a promotional model that does not take physical presence into account. One of the problems of performance appraisal is the so-called ‘halo effect’. It occurs when we unconsciously make an erroneous generalization from a single quality of an object or a person. In order to objectify the evaluation of a candidate for the promotion, you must have data, not perceptions. In addition, it is very convenient that this assessment is not made by just one person, your boss. All companies should socialize that decision. When the assessment is made by people who do not ‘coexist’ for the candidate, the quantitative value of that coexistence loses weight.

  • Train your people to manage time efficiently.

    This is not a contradiction. To avoid presenteeism you have to give time the value it has, not as a unit of measure but as an element of self-organization. We are facing a scarce good. If we remove inactive time from the equation (the time we spend on sleep, let’s say 6 hours), we should have a total of 16 hours of active time left. But not all have the same value. There is a percentage of those (let’s say a quarter, 4) that go to obligations that do not generate value by themselves. We talk about getting dressed, having breakfast, going to the bathroom, going to work, etc. We have a maximum of 12 hours left, and we have to divide them between our professional life and our personal life. The problem is that technology has blurred the barriers between personal and professional life. Now, those 12 hours should be divided between reactive time (the one that does not depend on you, such as attending meetings or accompanying your children to the doctor) and proactive (the one whose use depends on you, either to work on a professional project or in organize a bike outing with friends). Well, it’s about maximizing that proactive time. For this, it is important that you establish efficient decision protocols and that you train your people for an efficient use of time.

  • Incorporate the value of the example.

    In a presentist organization, the culture of presence is determined by the time that managers ‘are’ in the office. The problem with these behaviors is that they generate inefficiency and tend to persist over time. Because we tend to rattle off what those who came before us did (‘if it went well for them, it will go well for me’). The problem is that times have changed. The new generations have broken with the traditional values ​​of hard work for a single company as a way to get a good retirement. Today, the battle for talent demands that the values ​​of our organization be adapted to the values ​​of the generations to come.

  • See that decisions are made at the lowest possible level in the organization.

    It is more than just delegating. It’s about knowing what should be delegated and how. I divide work activities into two groups: repetitive (in turn divided into necessary and unnecessary) and thinking (in turn divided into creative and non-creative). As well; Unnecessary repetitive activities must be eliminated (delegating them is prolonging inefficiency), necessary repetitive activities and non-creative thinking activities must be delegated, and creative thinking activities cannot be delegated, they must remain at the highest levels of the company. However, repetitive jobs corresponding to necessary operational activities are progressively taken over by technology, so they will not soon be delegated to humans.

Presentism and corporate lies

Lastly, keep in mind that a culture of presenteeism makes people liars. Yes, you read that right, liars. Have no doubt that even an efficient worker who works in a work environment controlled by time, can lie so as not to feel judged for the delay. The clock distorts the engagement. You cannot be motivated to solve your organization’s problems with commitment and authenticity if you feel that even when you do it well, you are going to be judged solely by the amount of time you have invested in it.