Authors Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson provide their take on what’s wrong with the American workplace. If you’re one of the working hamsters who runs the daily wheel, you’re probably going to agree with them.
First, let’s get the title complete and accurate. It’s “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No schedules, no meetings, no joke … the simple change that can make your job terrific.”
Ressler and Thompson run a business-consulting firm that promises to make your workplace a better, happier, more productive treadmill.
The authors’ biggest criticism of the traditional workplace can be summed up in one buzzword: “presenteeism” – the idea that a person’s worth to the company can be judged by measuring the amount of time that person spends in a workplace cubicle. It plays on the old Woody Allen chestnut: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
In other words, the traditional, and misguided, key to getting ahead is to show up early, leave late, and not do much in between.
The authors argue for a results-oriented environment in which people are rewarded for what they produce, and its quality, rather than how much time they put in.
The case study
There’s the mandatory case study to prove the authors’ point. This one’s about Best Buy, the electronics retailer that reportedly increased productivity by 35% and lowered turnover. (Not that Best Buy has a monopoly on know-nothing help, but the story leaves us wondering how you increase productivity among 20-year-old clerks who appear to be starting with zero.)
Anyway, here are the key moves suggested by the authors:
- Employees have the freedom to work any way they want
- Employees have an unlimited amount of paid time off, as long as work gets done
- Employees should not be overworked
- Every meeting should be optional
- No work schedules should be imposed
- There should be no judgment about how you spend your time
Would it work?
All of it sounds good, especially if you like to play golf. And certainly few people (other than business owners) would argue against more freedom to get the job done in your own way and in your own timeframe.
Would it work for you? A lot depends on your business. For instance, if customers expect you to be at their disposal 24/7, it’s hard to imagine they’d be OK with the “I’ll be there when I want to be there” mindset.
And just make sure you don’t get caught reading this book at work.