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Results, not hours: How productivity will be measured after Covid-19

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Contractors who charge by the hour may soon need to have a rethink of their business model, with the ‘new normal’ of work ushering in new, more flexible work practices.

According to a major study by Adecco Group that surveyed 8,000 office-based workers around the world, the hours-based method of measuring work could be in its last days.

When asked whether the structure of employee contracts should be revisited to focus more on output, more than two thirds (69 per cent) of employees felt contracts should focus on meeting business needs, rather than hours, and 67 per cent felt the length of the working week should be revised.

And those in upper management at the c-suite level felt the same way, too; in fact, even more so, with 76 per cent of executive or c-suite level managers feeling the focus should be on business needs, not hours, and 74 per cent agreeing that the length of the working week should be revised.

The reason for this is because employees are fast becoming accustomed to adjusting their day around their personal schedule and family commitments.

“As flexibility increases and employees gain greater control over working schedules, they will also look to gain greater autonomy over how to manage working time,” the report said.

“As the importance of knowledge-based work increases, the practice of compensating an employee based on a fixed set of horus during a certain time of the ay, rather than results delivered, will no longer stand as reference for a working relationship.”

Work has traditionally been based on attendance rather than impact, but this could change.

“Going forward, the concept of correlating output with hours will be outdated,” the report said. Individuals work at different paces to one another, and workloads are often not always consistent all the time.

But redefining the way productivity is measured will be complex, according to the Adeco report.

“An individualised approach must be considered going forward.

“In an era of work vastly different from the one based on an industrial 9-5 scheme, it is inevitable that the hours-based model of productivity measurement will be revisited.”

The world will never go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, said Adecco Group Australia CEO Rafael Moyano.

“The sudden and dramatic change in the workplace landscape has accelerated emerging trends such as flexible working, high-EQ leadership, and re-skilling, to the point where they are now fundamental to organisational success,” he said.

“As we step into the new era of work, now is the time to establish better norms that will enable a holistically healthy, productive and inclusive workforce into the future.”

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, independent employment expert Conrad Liveris also said the hours-based model of measuring work would give way.

“Presenteeism will die out and be replaced by outcomes,” he said.

“Basically, show the work you have done, not how long it took you. And with that outcomes-based pricing (as opposed to hourly charge-out rates) [will become part of our workplaces].”

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