The Productivity Of First Class

from the someone-just-wants-an-excuse-to-fly-first-class... dept

With all this technology around, it seems that we’re starting to see a rebirth of modern Taylorism, where everything is measured in terms of just how productive employees are. The latest is a study that was probably conducted to convince someone’s boss why they should get to fly first class, a researcher has studied just how efficient employees are when they work in alternate locations thanks to the wonders of laptop computers. It appears that working in a hotel room is quite productive, but working in a nice business class seat is even more productive than working at home (fewer distractions). However, all of these beat working in that productivity killer: the office. Still, I tend to have problems with productivity studies, as they don’t usually measure quality of work – and don’t take into account the fact that “unproductive” time may actually be quite useful in leading to much more efficient use of time later on. If someone is constantly working without a break, they may not function quite as well, making obvious mistakes and missing certain solutions. However, someone taking an occasional break will find that his or her brain may continue working on a problem, such that when they return to work they make a major breakthrough. There is a reason why Taylorism was discredited, and all the modern technology in the world won’t change that fact.

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Comments on “The Productivity Of First Class”

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Morten Ranulf Clausen says:

Go easy on the measuring...

One other thing not mentioned also kills all of these studies: individual productivity is of no relevance what so ever. Only the total productivity of an entire organization has any meaning. If someone seemingly produces a lot but does it at the expense of 4 other people’s production that person is not productive in any meaningful sense, like bottom line result (which is what shareholders want – they (ideally) don’t pay for market share, production or anything else). People working off-site are unavailable to the organization and their knowledge can’t be used by their colleagues, thereby producing so-called “red lights” where colleagues simply can’t get on with their job because a resource is missing. Hence, first class seats, hotels, park etc. are really the productivity killers par excellence, while “unproductive” time in the office may be the only thing keeping a company alive as it allows for coordination and exchange of knowledge – which is important if any meaning can be attached to the words “knowledge workers”.

Why is everyone so hopped up about individual productivity? Is it because it’s easy to measure? Or because their own paycheck can be enlarged by measuring it?

Just for the record: I recognize the need to go offline once in a while to get a large chunk of work out of the way (“flow” can be quite important at times) but it should be the exception, not the rule.

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