Treating your company’s time as you would your own

In today’s print edition of the Financial Times, David Bolchover averred that The self-employed are too busy to go surfing; commenting on the TUC criticism of blocking access to social networking sites, he meanders through the graveyard of worker apathy and ends with the assertion that “you will not find the self-employed immersed on Facebook for hours. The perception of working is irrelevant to them. They are paid for being productive, not for turning up”.

I think he’s managed to miss the point, spectacularly, while coming very close to it.

I agree with him that self-employed people are unlikely to be found “immersed on Facebook for hours”. But why single out self-employed people? This is true for other employed people as well, and probably for students and even for the unemployed. All this talk of immersion is so much hokum, I feel like taking a leaf out of Stephen Smoliar’s book and asking for “hard data”. My hard data is based on the self-employed people I know, who use Facebook without getting immersed or obsessive about it. My hard data is based on my kids and their friends. My hard data is based on watching my colleagues.

I agree as well with Bolchover’s assertion that “the perception of working is irrelevant to [the self-employed],” and that “they are paid for being productive, not for turning up”.  But again why this belief that outcome-driven people must be self-employed? Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of furniture and time-servers in my time, but there are many talented people around. Many whose work ethic is based on results rather than effort, yet without sacrificing their values and their beliefs.

Everyone should be paid for being productive, not for turning up. That’s the whole point. Nothing to do with being self-employed or not, it’s a question of treating the company’s time as if it were your own. Even if you are self-employed.

10 thoughts on “Treating your company’s time as you would your own”

  1. In my experience too, there are many self-employed people spending significant time on social networks to investigate the collaborative possibilities contained therein.

    Self-employed people are paid for turning up for sure, but there’s a lot of networking and devlopment of presence that goes into having places at which to turn up. That is an output to which social media can make a direct contribution.

  2. Sorry, but I don’t have time to waste on social networks. You see, I get to work as late as possible, read the morning paper, sneak out for a coffee or three, play solitaire on the PC, take a long lunch, phone my sister, hang around the water cooler, flirt with the guy who delivers the afternoon post, redo my make-up, have a fight with the boyfriend just before the chocolate break at 3:30pm, read the afternoon paper, plan my evening’s TV viewing, and then slip out early.

    And I’m self-employed. :-P

    But seriously, isn’t time out once or twice a day for Facebook healthier as a “mental health break” than a cigarette break?

  3. Stowe Boyd insists in his post ‘overload shmoverload’ (http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/overload_shmove.html) that we have to think about flow rather than focus – and to give ourselves up to the network.
    He says:
    “Don’t listen to industrial era or information era (the last stage of industrial-ism) nonsense about personal productivity. Don’t listen to the Man.
    “The network is mostly connections. The connections matter, give it value, not the nodes.
    “Time is a shared space — your time is truly not your own
    “Productivity is second to Connection: network productivity trumps personal productivity.”

    I’ve discussed some of this in a paper here:
    http://fasterfuture.blogspot.com/2007/08/reeds-law-and-how-multiple-identities.html

  4. david, if the human visual system has evolved to accommodate both focus (foveal vision) and flow (peripheral vision), why should Stow Boyd pose this as an either-or choice, instead of a both-and synthesis?

  5. Laurel, I hope your “serious” argument is not that one addiction is as good as another! Having deep-ended on the entire HBO series on the topic, I find myself thinking of addiction as a defensive reaction against stress. In this case the source of stress is the very nature of the workplace and the need to sustain workplace pressure over eight hours with little interruption (without taking commute time into account). If we had more flexibility in allocating our “work time” (whatever that may mean), we might have less need for the very concept of a “mental health break!”

  6. JP, I assume it has not escaped you that, once again, we are returning to that question of what constitutes “wasted” time:

    http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2007/08/01/on-facebook-and-wasting-time/

    However, when you start talking about “outcomes,” you are basically anchoring the discussion in the world of nouns, which, as we both well know, is not the world of verbs:

    http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2007/05/27/musing-about-nouns-and-verbs/

    Where this is most important is in the service sector, where maintaining an ongoing engagement is as important as any of the “outcomes” of that engagement (if not more so). To some extent “turning up” (when the time is right, i.e. when needed) is the primary obligation of the service provider!

    Thus, there is a deeper problem that arises from this whole shift from a production economy to a service economy. It is not so much a question of wasting time. It may not even be a question of “productivity,” if “production” is not the primary goal of the work. Rather, it is the need for a new model of compensation that is commensurate with both how services are rendered and with what service providers do during their “down time” in order to be better at rendering those services. Are the corporate bean-counters ready to get their heads around that question? :-)

  7. UK public figures like Dave Gorman, Will Self, Richard Herring, Sue Perkins and Emma Kennedy are actively using blogs, MySpace and Facebook as part of their working lives.

    OK, these are people with a public profile so it is in their interests to live part of their lives in public, but none of them are using these media as cynical marketing tools (in the way politicians generally do). It’s just a natural part of how they live and work.

    (All of the above have an active MySpace or Facebook page but you need to log in to see it at the moment)

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