What Do you mean and Why Does It Matter?
Why do you care about how the work day is structured?
The world is full of good, hard, challenging problems that need solving. We need good government, good businesses, good non-profits, and good schools to provide solutions to the problems the world is facing.
We solve these problems when people contribute the best of their energy and efforts to the cause.
Your employees’ best energy and efforts are not tied to any ‘magic number’ of hours in a day, or by working in a particular location. They do their best work in an environment that promotes their energy and efforts, not detracts from them.
We believe in the cause you are fighting for, the product you are selling, the reason you exist. We know you have to work hard. We want to help you work better, too. And we think that one way you can really work smarter (not longer, not more) is by looking at how you organize your workday, how you manage your time, and how you empower your teammates.
You don’t have to look far to see that people are tiring of the 9-to-5 grind. They feel overworked, underappreciated, and like they lack opportunities to be creative. You see talented people leaving their jobs to start their own companies or to take on freelance work. In the words of Daniel Pink, author of Drive, employees are looking for “autonomy, mastery, and purpose.”
But we know that while new companies create amazing things, and it is great to be able to reach out and tap into experts on a freelance basis, the majority of work done today is still done by traditional organizations - existing small businesses, governments, academic institutions, and non-profits. Instead of losing your most talented employees to something new, we want to help your organization become what it needs to to retain the best talent, grow and achieve your goals.
You can risk having your best employees leave for an opportunity to break free from the daily grind. Or you can break free from it yourself, taking your organization to a new level of productivity, achievement, and satisfaction.
Breaking free of cultural norms to truly evaluate how your team performs their work will help all of us solve more of the challenges our world is facing by being more efficient, effective, and ultimately - more impactful.
Why did you start MatchPace?
“Part time” sometimes communicates “partial effort,” but we know that’s not the case. In a knowledge economy employers leverage a person’s brain, which doesn’t turn off just because you’ve left a particular location (and honestly, doesn’t turn back on just because you are in a particular location).
Yet we still structure our days as though work can only be done in one place and requires a fixed amount of time to accomplish. Right now, in most organizations, there is no incentive to get your work done faster. People who can work faster and smarter are given more work than you could reasonably expect from one person, just to keep them in the office until 5 p.m. People end up filling their time with busy work, scheduling unnecessary meetings, taking care of personal obligations at work, or wasting time on Facebook.
We’ve all watched talented friends exit the workforce because of this frustration. Whether they left because they had children at home, needed to take care of aging parents, wanted time to volunteer for a cause they were passionate about, launched a “side-hustle,” or wanted to phase into retirement, they felt like many of their hours at work were wasted, and there was no way they could recapture that time without lying about hours or “stealing” time from their employers.
But remember how we said we care deeply about the work you are doing? We truly do. And we want you to keep the most talented people working on those problems. We know the best way to get them and keep them is through honoring their skills, honoring their efforts, and honoring their priorities by giving them the freedom to work at the pace that maximizes both their productivity and satisfaction.
We want you and your employees to work hard and live well.
Why Do You Think The Work Day Should Look Different?
The workday as we know it was established in the early 1900s. The most prominent employer to change the workday at that time was Henry Ford. He (and others) actually decreased the hours people were working because he recognized factory processes increased productivity. He also discovered the diminishing returns on longer days and that people could actually produce more in shorter periods of time through focused effort and technological advances.
Ford wasn’t making these decisions to change the work day out of generosity - he was looking to maximize profit.
Henry Ford said of the decision: “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” At Ford’s own admission, however, the five-day workweek was also instituted in order to increase productivity: Though workers’ time on the job had decreased, they were expected to expend more effort while they were there. Manufacturers all over the country, and the world, soon followed Ford’s lead, and the Monday-to-Friday workweek became standard practice.
We’ve moved from an industrial economy into a knowledge economy, and the way we work best has changed yet again. We have different productivity tools than the assembly line, tools that - if used correctly - help us make decisions faster, communicate more effectively, and generally get better work done in less time.
At the same time, in addition to the productivity tools at our fingertips, we use a different primary tool than physical labor: our brains. And our brains operate differently than our bodies. See “How does the brain work?” for more information.
So when you combine our main tool (our brains) with tools that enhance our productivity, it’s time to re-examine the 9-5 workday.
Why are organizations resistant to coming into the Knowledge Economy?
Change is hard. We’ve done things a certain way for a long time. You see some organizations enacting incremental change, like teleworking policies or flexible hours. But these changes are often implemented in a way that encourages dishonesty and waste instead of maximizing productivity and contributing to your organization’s success.
People often associate large investments of time and the appearance of activity with productivity and success, and there is resistance when you challenge the culturally accepted norms of a long workday. Managing to outcomes is much harder, but much more accurate, than managing to time. Our goal is to get our clients beyond their fears, to help them structure their teams to produce the most essential work, and to recognize that a well-rounded and well-rested team is actually their best resource to fight for their cause and change the world, just like they intended.
We want to be honest and forthright about what it takes to achieve real results in our current environment and set employees free to do it at a pace that works for them and you.
Is there any precedence for a shorter workday?
Some historical examples include Charles Darwin, who focused on his work for about 4-5 hours a day, split up by good meals with family, walks in the woods, having his wife read to him, etc. Charles Dickens was also known to focus on his writing for a "shorter" period of time. You can't argue that those men produced some powerful work (and you can still implement their approach to work even if your name isn't Charles!).
Sweden is testing out a 6 hour work-day in a nursing home, a factory, and a hospital, resulting in higher productivity and happier employees (and subsequently happier clients).
Finally, in the U.S. today there is significant demand for shorter workdays: according to the US Census Bureau, 62% of part-time workers are working reduced hours by choice.
No offense, but isn't this a no-brainer?
We agree, it seems relatively obvious. But how many workplaces do you know of that have a laser-like focus on their goals, manage to outcomes, are really careful with their time, make retaining top talent their priority, and work less, not more than the standard 40 hour work week?
The U.S. entered the Industrial Age in the early 1900s. Factory owners started implementing the reduced workday in the 1920s (dropping hours from 10-16/day to 8/day).
Then along came service and information jobs, really becoming a force in the 1950s and 60s. But the work day stayed the same as if we were still working in factories. People were still managed by the number of hours worked, even though time spent at work does not guarantee anything is actually produced.
Over 60 years later, we're still using an Industrial Age framework to determine how we should work. Our current workdays are a mishmash of too many meetings, management by email, and constant interruptions. Plus, they're just too long to effectively focus all day long.
Even worse? People are time-starved, feeling like they don't have enough time to tend to their health, their families, and their passions.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, it's a change that actually requires a lot of intention and a big commitment: it's a change in mind-frame, a change in focus, a change in management style. And all of those changes result in bigger changes: increased productivity, achieved goals, happier employees.
We want to help you get there. So no offense taken. :)
What's In It for Me?
What Happens When an Organization Optimizes Their Pace?
- You serve your clients better.
- You make decisions faster.
- Your outcome is clearer to your employees.
- You hold your departments accountable.
- Your workforce knows what their job is - and isn’t.
- You retain your best talent because you avoid burnout.
- You increase your output.
- Your stress, and that of your employees, is decreased.
When done well, optimizing your organization’s pace can yield significant benefits (like those listed above). Poorly managed transitions, though, have equally strong but negative impacts. We’re not just talking about flex time or remote work; we’re talking about changing the structure of your organization. This requires careful implementation, evaluation, and adjustment to make sure you are staying on the right path and making changes that truly benefit your team.
There are many things you can do yourself, but you can do it better if you have a professional helping you. Just as you get better results at the gym when you work with a trainer, we would be honored to help you get the best results from optimizing the pace at your organization.
How Do You Help Organizations Optimize Their Pace?
We take organizations through a process that considers their goals, culture, and organizational and leadership personalities as well as their need for synchronization and collaboration.
We help our clients articulate their true inputs and outcomes, not just the number of hours worked by their employees. We start with what they need to accomplish on a strategic level, then walk it back to make sure the the roles and responsibilities of each person align to the strategic goals, and work backwards to design a workday that maximizes their energy and efforts.
Next we evaluate how necessary each current action, activity, and tool are, and how they influence the outcome, looking at everything from position alignment to each task, meeting, and conference call. We help you redesign your methods and your workday to help you accomplish your mission better and faster. Once you accomplish your mission efficiently and effectively, you are then able to recharge and think of your next creative solution.
We walk our clients through an organizational shift: evaluating progress, adjusting as necessary, and continually driving towards trust, results, and an optimized pace.
What kind of organizations can you help?
Through our own careers we have gained insight into navigating large bureaucratic organizations, small non-profits, growing teams, and well-established companies. We primarily work with organizations that are knowledge driven, but these principles can be applied to brick-and-mortar outfits as well.
Why Do You Match People In Part-Time Jobs?
We believe that we need “all hands on deck” to solve the problems facing our world, and getting all the hands, brains, and hearts invested in your organizational mission comes in different sizes.
Because many talented people can and want to do quality, full-effort work in less than 40 hours a week, we help organizations find them. We’d like to stop calling a work week less than 40 hours “part time,” because part time doesn’t equal partial effort. But we’re still looking for another way to describe it, so while the phrase is part of our culture, we continue to use it.
Working less than 40 hours a week benefits both employees and employers. Not sure how fewer hours can mean more productive, satisfied employees and better outcomes for your organization? Imagine employees who feel like every hour of their workday is dedicated to accomplishing important tasks with no busy work or wasted hours on unnecessary meetings. They can then dedicate their reclaimed time to their families, health, hobbies, and causes they care about while staying proud of their accomplishments at work. As an employer, you stop paying employees for diminishing returns as they stay at their desks watching the clock, and your employees are not only happier but have the creative energy to constantly innovate and improve.
Doesn’t that sound like a win-win?
What type of part-time jobs do you match people in?
Our sweet spot is mid-to-senior level knowledge-based positions. These go beyond typical administrative positions and include roles like Operations Managers, Chiefs-of-Staff, Communications Directors, Marketing Managers, Financial Managers, and Accountants. Professionals who rely on the tools of our knowledge economy can all benefit from work more efficiently in condensed hours, and you can give them back their precious time.
But those are just examples, and we can work with you to tailor our work to your need.
Do you primarily target moms when matching people in part-time positions?
While parents - both moms and dads - are interested in working hard & living well and are part of our network, so are many people without children. They love to volunteer with a cause that matters to them. They may be training for a big athletic event. They may be helping to take care of aging parents. They may be transitioning into retirement and want to continue to use the skills they've spent decades building. These talented people and more want to work hard & live well, and we want to help you find and keep them.
There are all sorts of reasons why people want to give their best at work, and then move on to other priorities in their day. No one reason is more important than another.
But the real reason we target people in "part-time jobs" is because we believe that our standard workday needs to change. As we say, "part-time does not mean partial effort." We believe people can give you their full professional effort in less than a standard full-time week. We want to help you get the most talented engaged in your organization to further your mission, and we believe a compressed schedule can help.
How Do You Measure Productivity?
In terms of the “royal we” (meaning, everyone), it’s about getting things done in the most effective manner possible: accomplishing your goals, getting the best outcome, using the right amount of time and effort.
As far as how we (meaning, MatchPace) help you measure productivity, well… it depends.
We’re not trying to give a non-answer. The truth is, it depends on your unique needs. You have a different mission than someone else, you have a different team, and you desire different impacts.
We work with you to help ensure your goals are clear and you know which of your activities contribute to your goals and which detract. We help you find the right tools for your mission, team, and impact. Then we help you achieve the most in truly productive hours of your workday, minimizing wasted time and energy and giving you that time back.
Ultimately, our goal is to help you get laser focused on your outcomes, measure your progress, and achieve your goal!
Aren’t you just talking about teleworking or flex hours?
No, we’re not. While telecommuting and flex schedules may work for some types of organizations, they don't work for all. Teleworking and flex hours are one path toward the workplace flexibility that everyone is looking for, but here's why we promote a shorter, more efficient workday instead:
- Telecommuting and flexible schedules don’t manage to outcomes; they still manage to time.
- There’s a reason why “telework” often comes in “air quotes” - there’s a significant assumption that people are “working,” not actually working. And whether that assumption is often not correct, it has a negative impact both on the people teleworking and the people in the office.
- Sometimes companies see telework and flex hours as "favors" they are doing for their employees, implying the power rests with the employer. The employer/employee relationship isn't just a one-way thing; it should be recognized by both parties as mutually beneficial.
- Today’s factory is communication cycles. When people work “off hours” it slows down communication cycles, because you’re wasting time waiting for someone’s response.
- Knowledge work is about focus. Research shows that most people are not good at eliminating distractions on their own. We’re not saying you need to block Facebook and track people’s keystrokes, but you need to give them an environment where they can focus and work hard. Your office should provide that environment.
Overlapping hours, with your team generally in the same place, keeps everyone on the same communication cycle, allows for collaboration and brainstorming, and helps you get the job done.
Want to learn more? Contact us to get started today.
There already aren't enough jobs to go around. By using more productivity tools, automation, and innovative approaches, aren't you killing more jobs?
There are so many productivity tools out there, it's head-spinning. They pop up, and the next thing you know, they drive each other into extinction. (Email is dead, right? Now you should use #Slack!)
Technology has replaced a lot of jobs, like factory workers or travel agents.
Is MatchPace contributing to the loss of jobs by encouraging organizations to automate processes and reduce hours?
I used to work for the consulting firm founded by Alvin Toffler, who coined the term "Future Shock" (and wrote a book with the same title). Future Shock the idea that "society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a 'knowledge economy.'" This change overwhelms people. Toffler believed the accelerated rate of technological and social change left people disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation — future shocked."
The psychology behind how change impacts a person is beyond the scope of our expertise, but it's real and disorienting. The temptation can be to run off and hide and pretend it's not happening.
And we're probably going to face a lot more "future shock" in the coming years. Artificial Intelligence, anyone?
But pretending it's not happening won't stop it from happening. So to keep your organization operating with people wasting way too much time on the wrong things and using outdated technology is not actually going to save anyone's job - at least not for long. Tying someone up in a job that isn't functioning optimally or even really needed hinders our progress as a society. People shouldn't be spending their time on something unnecessary just for a paycheck. They need to be investing their time and gifts to solve the real problems we face.
We're not pushing any particular productivity tool (other than your brain). Our job is to help you with your priorities and focus, in the name of efficacy (not efficiency - effectiveness) and freedom.
The truth is, factory workers still exist, and are important to augment machines. Travel agents still exist - again, they augment the online tools. They do things that travelers don't know how to do, or help clients who don't want to spend their free moments searching for the best flight. A travel agent's job description looks different and requires new skill sets, but the job hasn't disappeared.
And for the people who have lost their jobs to automation, we are really motivated by something Dan Pink wrote in Free Agent Nation. The source of inequality in work today is not between who is an employee and who is a free agent, but between who has skills that are in demand and who doesn't; between who can exercise bargaining power in the new talent market and who cannot.
That quote speaks well to some of the heart behind MatchPace: unleashing everyone's talent to conquer the challenges in our world. One of our goals is to rectify some of that inequality. We hope to help municipalities or state governments with their retraining efforts for people who are out of work, or help reform our higher education system, helping to create the workforce of the future. We know this is a big idea that lots of really talented people are working on, but we're passionate about seeing everyone use their professional skills to their utmost ability!
So you’re saying we can pay people less, because they are working less hours?
Our recommendation is to pay people for the outcome you expect them to produce. Give them the tools they need to produce that outcome (or help find the tools), organize your workday to meet your organization's specific needs for coordination and synchronization, and set your employees free to meet their goals. In our minds, they are still due their full salary - and they get to take control of their time, too.
But really, I work 45 or 50 hours a week.
When we talk with people about MatchPace and inefficiencies and wasted time at work, we get a lot of head-nods and emphatic responses. Occasionally, though, someone says “no, I really do work 45-50 hours each week. I’m not checking Facebook, I’m not standing around the water cooler; I’m sprinting all day.”
We totally believe you. And we hear the frustration and desperation in your voice.
With just a few questions, we usually discover that you’re doing the job of three or four people. Your organization is maxed out and what you are doing is unsustainable.
There are studies linking the health of employees to effectiveness and profitability, but some organizations haven’t caught on yet. We believe you are working 50 hours or more a week, but we believe it would be better for your organization - and you - to find a sustainable pace that makes you more productive while also keeping you sane.
What Does the Research Say?
How does the brain work?
There are lots of studies that show our concentration wanes the longer we’re at work. We become less efficient, taking longer to make decisions and losing sharpness and focus. As the hours tick away, we experience the law of diminishing returns: we take longer to get work done, and often end up with lower quality outputs.
Multitasking is also a productivity - and creativity - killer. When we’re interrupted at work, it can take minutes or longer to recover. And we all know attention spans aren’t unlimited resources.
“Attention span” refers to the amount of time an individual can remain focused on a task without becoming distracted. This is an important variable since people with longer attention spans are able to be more creative, make fewer errors, and are more likely to achieve their goals. Current researchers argue that the average attention span of American adults has dropped and it is limited to 20, 10, or even five minutes. If this is true, the numbers are troubling since we clearly need more bandwidth to provide them with important information. The interesting question is “why?”
Inspiration and new ideas aren’t tied to particular hours. Our brains get tired. Just because we’re committed to punching the clock for a set number of hours a day doesn’t mean those hours are fertile for creativity and productivity. We need to design our workdays to maximize our brain power, reduce distractions and interruptions, discourage multitasking and truly structure the workday to get work done.
How much time do people waste at work each day?
Two-thirds of employees spend time on social media at work, with 20 percent wasting an hour or more a day on Facebook while on the clock. But the issue of wasted time isn’t just about social media, or chatting with coworkers, or completing personal tasks during the workday. Time is lost when people spend hours doing tasks that could be done by a productivity tool. Time is lost when people spend more time managing their work than actually doing it.
McKinsey reports that today’s workforce spends 61% of their time managing their work. Not actually completing work, just trying to keep it under control.
“The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.”[And another 14% communicating and collaborating internally]
That is crazy.
There are ways to work smarter, there are ways to communicate better, and there are ways to cut out the chaff and get work done faster. So why make people sit at their desks for 8+ hours a day, every day when a chunk of that is wasted time?
If you can get the same - or better - output in less time, how does it serve you to have people work longer days?
According to this working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, you should shorten your days if you want to get more done. The American Time Use Survey that they quote found that the more time people spend at work on a regular basis, the more time they spent goofing off.
What should we do with our "free time?"
That's a really important question. To be more effective - in life in general, and work specifically - you need to be intentional about how you rest and recover. Mindlessly scrolling social media or frantically running from activity to activity is likely not going to leave you ready to face the next challenge at work or in your personal life.
The idea behind MatchPace is to really focus on each area of life that is important to you. Invest your time in working hard. Invest your time in being present with your loved ones. Invest your time in learning a new skill. We can help you focus on your priorities, eliminate distractions, and then be intentional about how you spend your new-found free time!
Isn’t it illegal to change the workday?
The standard work week in the US is capped at 40 hours for hourly workers, before things like overtime need to be taken into consideration. There is nothing in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandating a 40 hour workweek.
“The FLSA does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. This is a matter generally to be determined by the employer. Whether an employee is considered full-time or part-time does not change the application of the FLSA.”
The FLSA does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (Federal or otherwise). These benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee.
Where hours take on a legal standing is how it relates to things like benefits. For example: the Affordable Care Act states that employers with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance to all full-time employees or pay a fine. The ACA defines full time as 30 hours of work per week.
So there are implications to changing the way the workday is structured. But Optimizing your Pace is about outcome, not about trying to squeeze more work out of your employees for less money, or to escape the ACA mandate.
We see changing the hours required of an employee as a benefit, not a way to squeeze them out of benefits you have decided to offer them. In fact, if your employees are achieving more in less time, you have increased productivity, outcomes, even profit and are more able to offer competitive benefit packages that attract top talent.
Okay, I've done my research and I'm sold. What's the next step?
We'd love to work with you to optimize your organization's workday, cut out ineffeciencies and give both you and your employees more of your most valued resource: time.
Contact us today to get started optimizing your pace so you can both work hard and live well.