When working in the office, that is, when we are not working a “research day” conducting a mock trial or focus group, we work “normal” hours – 8 hour days. For a time, we had employees who only worked in the office and those who also worked in the field. It became apparent after a time that this was dysfunctional in several ways. One of the primary ways in which it was dysfunctional was that the office workers always left the office at the usual office closing time and long before those in the field were finished. Our research days can be long, and tiring; more so when travel is involved. What became apparent was that there were 2 classes of workers and that the office workers could not understand the pressures and physical toll of the research days. This resulted in something of an “us and them” scenario where the ones who were really earning the money felt like they were working harder than those who could go home at the same time every day. Further, those who were office only workers did not fully appreciate the demands on our clients who have their own pressures and deadlines. Come “quittin’ time,” they wanted to be gone. But, our job is not over until it is over (to paraphrase the late, great Yogi Berra). Those employees in our world who insisted on leaving when the clock hands are in a certain position were more of a bother than they were worth. The answers to what we observed were several. First, we improved our interviewing on what we thought were common sense issues. We began trying to determine whether prospective employees were clock watchers or those who got the job done regardless of the time. And, the other big change was more cross training such that none of our employees now is “office only” – they get into the field, they meet the clients, and they know that the job’s demands come less from us, the bosses/owners, than from our ultimate bosses, the clients. Quittin’ time is when the job is done, not when the clock strikes a number.
Quitting time is, in my world, not a time of day but a time that depends on the amount of work to be done. If work remains to be completed after “the end of business,” “closing time,” or any other pre-defined hour, then I finish it. Furthermore, I expect my employees to finish their work, regardless of the time noted on the clock. Conversely, if I am finished with the work that needs to be completed for the day, I see no reason whatsoever to sit at my desk until a certain time of day. My philosophy on time has not always meshed with my employers’ notions (in the days before I co-owned a business), nor has it always been appreciated by my employees. I have worked in many places where I had to be sitting at my desk at exactly 8:30 a.m., regardless of my scheduled activities for the day. In addition, I have been criticized by my co-workers and supervisors alike for working past “quitting time,” in that my diligence made the other employees look bad. (On every occasion when I received this criticism, I replied that, it was not I who made the other employees look bad; it was they, themselves, who controlled this impression!) In the decades I have been my own boss, so to speak, I do not work during what most people consider “normal business hours.” Although my office is staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, I work when there is work to be performed, including nights, weekends, and during vacations. In a similar fashion, if I need to leave early to make it to a rock and roll concert on time, I complete my work before I leave, working longer days in anticipation of leaving early on the concert day, so that nothing is ever left undone. I value employees who complete their work on or before deadlines, who anticipate future work and prioritize accordingly, and who leave the office only when their work is both complete and completed properly.