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I am working in a small (4 people) team (agency industry) and we are on the right track regarding the productivity. The company is really flat and liberal but doesn't allow remote work but on the other hand you can come in to the office at any time and you don't have a strict timetable as long as you can meet expectations. Nevertheless our workload is really heavy and some of my colleagues are coming to the office late (around 11:00 pm or later) or just stay out of the office usually while others are present and working.

Honestly the business is rocking, but I'd like to create an even better team.

My question is how could we build up a consistent and fair-minded time-sheet which is applied for everyone and how could we communicate the problem for the guys who are ignoring the standards?

  • I think that if a change happens, it will happen because the different work hours get to be a problem that is visibly impacting productivity (it may well actually be impacting productivity now, but if people can ignore that, they probably will because the status quo is in their best interests). – Amy Blankenship Dec 18 '13 at 20:41
  • Is the problem "I want to talk to X, but I have no clue when he will arrive (or he won't arrive until after I leave)" or "I don't think X is contributing to our overall production fairly, others are outworking him" ? The answers will be different for those two questions. – Kate Gregory Dec 19 '13 at 20:31
  • Why do you need the time sheet? What problem will is solve? How will it make things better? What metrics will you gather from it? – Preet Sangha Dec 19 '13 at 22:37
  • Joe Yes, we have a really flexible culture but we recognized that we have to refine it to be better and better in the future. I am in a senior position or a would be team-lead and can affecting the daily routine Amy you are absolutely right, the work hours in the office are impacting the productivity and the team cohesion also and we like to boost everyone Kate either case are taking day after day, and these are another reasons that we like to introduce some "rules" Preet I think the time sheet was a wrong word, I mean a common aspect or policy regarding the arrival and the late also – user7522 Dec 20 '13 at 10:24
  • I assume you mean 11am ? – Michael Durrant Apr 9 '14 at 20:33
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I'd recommend defining core work hours during which everyone should be in the office. For example, between 10am and noon and 2pm to 4pm. This allows you to schedule meetings, service clients/customers better, increase collaboration and so forth while still allowing a great degree of scheduling flexibility.

Given how you've described your company culture I wouldn't go too strict on enforcing something like this. Just put it out as sort of a strong suggestion, stating logical reasons on why you need to do this. In most situations, people will usually get the idea and buy into it. Then they'll build their schedule around it.

  • Yes, one option could be to define core work hours but this is a basic step because of if we are in the office and working we are encountering lot of type distracting topics. Nevertheless I think that the core work hours are a good idea and could boost the collaboration and the mutual understanding which will increase our productivity as well. I am fully agree with you that using logical approach instead of the strict and drastic way. – user7522 Dec 20 '13 at 15:02
  • I've experienced this methodology, and finds it works very well. – Code Whisperer Jan 16 '14 at 18:24
  • Always the compromise on both sides. – zinking Jan 17 '14 at 6:17
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I'm a big believer in the practice of measuring your employees by their productivity rather than their time spent working.

If your employee is getting enough work done for what you are paying them, I don't see what you have to worry about. It's not broke, don't fix it.
Some people (especially in the IT profession) work in bursts(like me), some more evenly. If you force someone who is getting their days work done to stick more rigidly to a timetable it could very well affect performance.

If it is effecting their performance, that's another matter. But as you say "business is rocking"

  • If it aint broke and you use it wrong then it will soon break.... – amar Dec 20 '13 at 12:27
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    "use it wrong"? – Ross Drew Dec 20 '13 at 12:44
  • It looks good for small scale but you need to have a regulation in order to grow – amar Dec 20 '13 at 12:47
  • It is small scale. It's working well. No mention of growth. Truth is in larger companies pretty much everything needs to be different. I don't see why time rather than work output has to be regulated in a larger company more than a smaller one anyway. – Ross Drew Dec 20 '13 at 12:55
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    If you run a small company like it's a large company then you'll be causing even more problems. – Ross Drew Dec 20 '13 at 13:06
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There's always going to be a tradeoff between "everyone can manage their work/life balance however they want" and "we all need to be able to communicate to work efficiently". With the capabilities of the modern workplace that doesn't always mean that everyone has to work in the same building, at the same time 100% of the time. But those are the tradeoffs, and thing to do is to figure out the balance that works for your company and what you need to get accomplished.

The reason to drag people in and ask for a set of core hours is generally that they are hard to find, and difficult to get information from. I'm assuming, since you said productivity is good, that your hard to find people are not having issues getting things done themselves. If that's not true - if you don't see evidence of their work on a regular basis - then this is a different conversation about getting work done and being accountable to deadlines.

I like the idea of core hours, but my thought is that it's best to discuss it as a team, particularly since you are a small and flat organization. Ask for times when people can promise to be available for meetings and discussions, and verify that this is sufficient time for the group. 11-2 with implications of a lunch break is a nice bare minimum in the US, but mileage will vary. For example, I noticed in some places, people go home for lunch, so lunch is longer. In other cases, avoiding rush hour traffic may be a particular driver.

At least if you figure it out together, you can make a group decision and get opinions.

One decent heuristic for this style of work is "if you are late to a meeting you accepted, you are late" - in other words, be a grown up and manage your schedule. It's OK to miss core hours for doctor's appointments, illness or other issues, but unless you are sick, don't skip a meeting - plan accordingly. Don't accept a meeting when you have a doctor's appointment or need to be home for a repairman. But don't decline meetings so often that the team can't get a hold of you.

The other trick to increasing productivity is knowing what you want to accomplish. Sounds simple, but it's not - is it quality? faster deliverables? more stuff? Know what you want, and that WILL help you figure out what work patterns are needed to get you there.

  • When we realized that some processes were mismanaged I talked one of the founder and we built up a short and long term plan. After that we presented this for the guys and they accepted that we have to change our recent practices. So at the moment we are looking for and setting up clear\achievable\common SMART goals and we try to introduce and sustain them. – user7522 Dec 21 '13 at 15:05
  • Coolness! I've had OK luck with SMART as long as you don't let the business jargon run away with you. – bethlakshmi Dec 23 '13 at 14:12
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Lets start with a straight question Do you wish to grow?
if yes then put process in place.Fix the work hours.or else it will spoil your organization's work culture. At present it doesn't look very scalable.


When there are few contributing members as the organization is small things can be made to work based upon mutual understanding and consent.But as the number grows these things become a bottle neck.
Bad process can bring bad name to organization and make it unpopular amongst employees because after a point you will also want more experienced not so bachelor people to work for you who will be reluctant because of the odd hour culture which would have creep-ed in your organization gradually.
By fixed hours you need not to be rigid you can have a range of in time like 8 am to 10 am similarly for out time. and fixed rules ,which are easy on employees,For once in a while exceptions. This will ensure that every one comes on time and those who have some urgencies are not harmed

Edit I have been privy to medium scale organization who went for ISO or CMM like certification but had faced lots of resistance becoz of adhoc culture.Not only there were delays in their endeavor but also expenses as the concerned experts where hired on salary (big salary) basis.

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    We are 1 year old company and absolutely wish to grow this our main goal and providing quality. We will introduce process and like to work out core system based on core hours or fix work hours bit I don't know which could be the good step. Our reputation is really good on the market and my aim is to sustain it. Due to the ad hoc culture we can lose clients and employees also and we like to avoid this. At the moment we have an own customized plan for the next year which contains the details about reforming. All the founders and the compeers accepted it but the implementing is the hard topic. – user7522 Dec 20 '13 at 14:55
  • Make slow changes best such that the entire operation does not become troublesome for your employees slowly make them adopt new process as if they are doing it ,its not being force upon them. Best will be to hire experienced professional HR people. ad Best of Luck :) – amar Dec 20 '13 at 17:29
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    another plus for you because of we could chose two options. The first one was the drastic introduction and the second one is the slow changes and we voted for the second. I have some HR related experiences because of I was working in the organizational development industry and I know that we have to introduce the new process slowly. Unfortunately we can't afford to hire HR people but I am get on well a lot of experienced guys who are willing to help us:) – user7522 Dec 21 '13 at 14:46
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I am an employee and in my last company we had same situation that we could come to office almost at any time no strict check. But when our manager used to say that "We will go on dinner after work" or any other recreational activity we responsibly come early to finish work and office hours before recreation. So i would suggest to bribe your teammates into recreational stuff after work to manage their Time in/Time out your way and once the routine is set it will be even hard for them to change.

  • the "recreational activity" is a very good idea and I will try it. The difficulty with this concept is that we have one student\one founder and regular\senior guys in our team. So these guys have wide range of activities\responsibilities in and out the company. The scheduling is very interesting and I can imagine that we could organize joint activities 2-3 times per a month but my goal is to creating a daily routine like habit regarding the coming and going or the core work hours as well. – user7522 Dec 21 '13 at 14:55
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    I'd be a little wary of using "recreational activities" as a way of trying to force people to behave in a certain way. Some people don't like "Corporate Mandatory Fun Day" type events, and if you're asking people to come in early to work hard in order to be able to go to an event after work (e.g. in their own time) then this is hardly much of an incentive. In a small team you only need one person to dislike this kind of thing to de-rail it, and in larger teams there will certainly be a few people who aren't motivated by this kind of thing at all. – Rob Moir Dec 22 '13 at 6:36
  • RobM..I see your view as well and really curious about your opinion....do you have any suggestion to step forward in my case? Thank you in advance:) – user7522 Dec 22 '13 at 13:56
  • @user7522 you've had some good suggestions already I think. I'd personally start the 'core hours' idea and let that bed in, see what good and bad things that brings you then decide from there what the next issue is that you need to address. I think it's good you're addressing this stuff before the business grows instead of afterwards, by the way. – Rob Moir Dec 22 '13 at 14:50

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