Get more done by working shorter hours: Shorter days are more productive by Jeff Sutherland for Slate.
When Jon Katzenbach started out as a consultant at McKinsey & Co., it was customary for everybody to work seven days a week, but, for religious reasons, Katzenbach worked only six days a week. He noticed he got more done than his peers, and so he cut back to five days a week, and got even more done. He never quite had the nerve to cut back to three or four days a week.
The reason is why fewer hours equaled better productivity was that he made better decisions when he was alert and rested. When he was tired, he made mistakes, and fixing the mistakes took up so much time that his productivity declined. Also, the mistakes you make when you’re tired can be dangerous.
Self-imposed corporate regulations control workers but choke productivity by William Mitchell for Billy Blog.
An Australian study indicates that the chief source of red tape in corporations is the corporations themselves. Senior executives spend nearly nine hours a week filling out reports and otherwise demonstrating compliance, while lower-level staff spend more than six hours.
If compliance work were a separate industry, it would employ more Australians than construction, manufacturing, education or government, and three times as many as mining.
When I reported on Eastman Kodak Co. during the 1980s, I’d ask Kodak executives how they spent their days. Typically they said they spent most of the regular work day attending meetings, and would come in early and stay late to get their real jobs done.
The purpose of all this, as Mitchell noted, is not efficiency and productivity, but to maintain control from the top—a milder version of the old Soviet system.
We’re not Denmark. But we can learn something from that nation about how they pay their workers by Jared Bernstein for The Washington Post.
The base pay for a fast-food worker in Denmark is $20 an hour, and the pay package includes five weeks’ vacation, paid maternity and paternity leave, and a pension plan. Bernstein said the average fast-food pay in the U.S. is $8.90 an hour, the base pay is closer to $8 and there are few benefits.
A hamburger costs more in Denmark, but a hamburger is still affordable. Profits of fast-food companies are less, but sufficient to keep Burger King and McDonald’s in business.
The difference between Denmark and the USA is that there is a standard set for all fast-food restaurants, so that no restaurant is at a competitive disadvantage as a result of treating its workers decently. In Denmark, the standard is set by a powerful labor union. In the USA, it could be set by a higher minimum wage.
My takeaway: There’s nothing inherent in the nature of things, but only in certain ways of thinking about things, that prevents American companies from having well-paid workers, with reasonable hours, who are accountable for results and not for following rules.