OvertimeMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
It is now very common, especially for IT related professionals, to work during odd hours or extra hours. It is not just the managers but the resources themselves have got used to this habit and this has become a “Industry Norm” for professionals to work beyond office hours and during weekends.
Continuing my discussion from my other article, “After Hours”, that working outside the regular hours has its price. Some of which are also highlighted by Lonnie Golden of Economic Policy Institute in its report “Irregular Work Scheduling and Its Consequences“. Similarly specialists, around the world, have recognized this issue and are putting in good though-process to suggest some solution.
What are the reasons which make the professionals believe that this is a normal part of their job? The most notorious concept is that the Managers and Senior level executives are responsible for making the resources work beyond the regular official hours. The resources primarily believe that due to unrealistic expectations and planning, they will be made to work etra in any case. Secondly since it is now normal for teams to work remotely and from different locations around the world with different time-zones, therefore they will be made to work other than regular hours in order to synchronize with timings suited to clients or provide urgent support.
It is a situation in which the reasons have given up the concept of working during “regular hours” and this concept is something which they also pass on to the new resources as they start their careers. I believe there is another reason that the majority of the professionals never actually experienced what it is like to be working only in regular office hours.
As I mentioned in my article “Lesson Learned from one of my successful Project”, one of the main reasons for that project to be successful was that the team worked regular working hours throughout the project. In the first year of the project, there was anyone working after regular hours or during weekends or off days. I remember that when that project started and I set this “regular working hours’ ground rule, the team members were surprised. They all came to me, in disbelief, and asked me the same thing that if it means that they can always come and go at a fixed time? Despite most of them having reasonable experience, they had never gone through such a situation. The results were extraordinary.
I believe that the problem is that the resources are unable to compare “working with fix timings” with their usual “odd hours” routine unless they have experienced both of them. Once they have been in both kinds of situations, only then can they compare the differences.
The other advantage of working for regular office hours is that when a resource is working for fixed time per day, then he/she is more focused on completing the designated work during that time. There have been many instances when resources sort out some innovative methods to get their work completed in time.
This is where the Agile basics are really practical and effective. Teams are empowered to set their own task and give more effective timelines. As a result the team takes collective ownership of completion of work and in case of any delays, they collectively take the corrective measures. It becomes very easy for Project Managers to plan and execute project activities much more effectively since the resources are providing realistic estimates.
So, to summarize the discussion, there is a big “No” to making resources to work beyond regular office hours on a frequent basis. The implementation of Agile methodology and proper processes not only enhance team productivity but also team wellbeing.