Monday, July 12, 2010

Results of My Experiment…


On Internet access and my people's working hours / productivity.


I just read this article on the e-mail woes of certain companies and how e-mails are affecting the productivity of their employees.

And I couldn’t help but remember the post that I made last January on playing Farmville (and the reactions I received from that post).

I know a lot of people or employees resent the fact that their employers are restricting their time online (and even blocking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.). But consider first what I wrote here before you get your hackles up…

Real – Life Example

I was given the chance to put into test just how being online (or not being online) can affect one’s work. And I just want to take this opportunity to describe this experience.

If you’ve read my posts from the start, you’ll see that I wrote that I own my small accounting firm.

Small or not, my people used to have unlimited access to the Internet. Facebook (used to be Friendster), YM, Google, you name it, they can access it. Since my firm is a small one, I can’t afford to have my own I. T. so I could not possibly control these sites.

When I started my own firm, I was okay with such an access. I mean, heck, I thought my people were responsible enough when to call it quits online and start working offline. I spent two busy seasons believing this to be the case. Two busy seasons in which the hours we were keeping were very near the kind of hours I was keeping when I was still working for a big accounting firm (like a 12 – hour workday plus week-ends plus holidays).

Then I started noticing stuff. Small ones really. Like whenever I get near my people’s area, they suddenly switch windows. Like I happen to pass by their area and I see their IE or Firefox or YM open. Or I hear them talking about Farmville and the other things that they discovered online. Or I see them extend their working hours but instead of working, they’re online! Which got me thinking – are they working or aren’t they?

So I did a little experiment. Last February, I removed my people’s Internet access. Not just restricted the sites but completely removed it. Of course, they grumbled behind my back and it caused some friction but since I am the boss, what could they do?

My thoughts? Well, I just wanted to see what would happen during that busy season.

And the results?

Overtime hours went down.

They could go home at 6:00 or 7:00 p. m. every Saturday.

There was no Sunday work.

By April, we were more relaxed. My people could even go home at 6:00 p. m. on Friday and Saturday. On the 14th of April, which is crutch time for everybody, they went home at 5:00 p. m.! And by noontime on April 15, everything was done!

Still more results? More face – to – face interaction with the clients and with their peers (particularly during break times). Plus, less mistakes, less review notes and faster turnaround of outputs.

The experiment...was a success...

At least for my firm, that is.

This is actually the first time I reflected on what happened during the last busy season. And this is the first time I put my reflections on writing.

I’m not trying to be preachy here or to advocate that the same thing be done in other firms or companies. Other firms may have different views, or different experiences, or different approaches to this matter. It's really entirely up to them.

You can react negatively or positively, it is all up to you. But for me, the Internet access stays off (unless really, really needed) and it will stay off as long as I am the boss here. May sound dictatorial, I know but hey, in the end, the results showed that it was well worth it.

And really, that is all that matters for me.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I usually totally and completely disagree with your posts here. But this one I wholeheartedly agree with.

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  2. Wow cannot agree more with this, well said.

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  3. lol, thats a really funny experiment you did emie.

    i didn't know internet was that big a deal. i guess, a little email check here, a little facebook there, and soem online chat really does kill productivity.

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  4. hi emie, how is it like owning your own firm? is it a lot of stress and what clients do you mainly deal with?

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  5. emie to add to johnk's point, i know you cant tell us, but hows the money with owning your own firm?

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  6. Yeah make sure you check out this great site and click on the google ads!

    www.uwstudents.com

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  7. Fascintating - I presume you don't communicate much with clients via e-mail then, eh?

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  8. No. I'm in the smaller league now. My clients are small to medium - size and they prefer the personal approach :).

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  9. Nice, I've found there's been a trend among forward-thinkers to re-embrace the personal approach. And yet having said that, there's not too many ways to move massive amounts of data around efficiently if not by e-mail - but then we're back to big client land so it's a moot point.

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