Monday, March 17, 2014

Staying at Work After Your Work is Done

A reporter asked for some "examples from individuals who have had to twiddle their thumbs waiting for the boss to leave (because you can't leave first)." They were also looking for "stories from individuals who can't leave the job early even though there's nothing to do."

This is something I take very seriously, so here's what they received:

​I work in the video game industry, and this​ ​problem​​ i​s rampant. It is compounded by the fact that we have 8 flexible hours ​in a day ​that can start as late as 10am and end as early as 4pm. I have had ​an ​employee that even would get to work at 6am and do a 10 hour shift and ​his boss didn't even know it because he didn't get into the office until 11am. They thought the ​"​6am guy​"​ was not doing full days, when he was actually the most productive person on the team because he got 4 hours of uninterrupted work because most of the company didn't arrive until 10am.

But that's not my story.

On software teams, you often work in short, two week bursts, called Sprints. At the beginning, everyone agrees on what needs to be done, and each member of the entire team is asked to do a full ​80 hours​ over two weeks. How it gets done isn't important; it just must get done.​ And it must be completed within two regular work weeks. That's the entire process.​

​Our team​ decided to get to work early because the office would be empty for a couple of hours as most people ​in the office ​came in at 10am.

Working this way, our team completed all of the items on the feature list and even added new features that weren't part of the ​plan, although they were on the remainder of the feature list​ that we would be implementing later​.

​After the Sprint, ​we demonstrated the software to the ​head of the studio, who told us​, not that we completed the Sprint, but ​that we should have been able to get more done. This made no sense to anyone on the team, so I asked what would make him say that. His reply: "I was here at 7pm every night, and the other team was, too. If you had actually worked full days, you would have done it. You didn't work hard enough."

It became apparent that this was what was expected. We had to be in the building when he was. And "work harder." To what end? He would not say. The entire culture of the company was shifted at that moment, and not in a way anyone could understand.

The company slowly imploded afterwards, and I fully believe the nucleus of that implosion was the disrespect he showed the hard working employees that day. Our home lives were less important than his perception of what work is actually being completed. 

Now, is that the type of company you'd want to work for? Not me. Your boss needs to define what's needed and to what standard. Then, when your work is done for the day... go home!

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