For years, a productive work week has been defined by clocking eight hours a day, five days a week, to reach the magical 40 hours. When the clock strikes five o’clock, you’re golden– go home! You’ve done your job!

From personal trainers, to construction workers, to business people, hours are counted, billed, or used as a standard of productivity. In fact, hours have been the predominant way we have measured productivity since the Industrial Revolution

While hours give insight into a workers’ productivity, they’re not the only indicator and are certainly not the most reliable way to gauge effectiveness. 

The Problem With Hour-Based Measuring

Measuring hours can be a viable structure for production that is primarily hands on, like assembly lines or physical labor, but knowledge-based work has its own nuances. Measuring productivity in hours alone for knowledge-based work can actually backfire and give false impressions. 

For example, working 12 hours straight may sound like a productive shift, when in fact many of those hours could have been spent surfing the internet or scrolling social media. On the other hand, workers who stay focused and are concise with their work could complete the same task in half the amount of time, although appearing to put in less effort based on hours. 

Overtime also poses a threat to workers’ efficiency by creating a culture of milking the clock and earning time-and-a-half completing tasks that could have been accomplished in a 40-hour window. 

The Solution of Result-Based Measuring 

The solution is simple. While the number of hours worked can provide a skewed interpretation of productivity, results don’t lie.

Using teams’ priorities and goals, managers and leaders can consider what tasks and projects are feasible for team members to complete on a weekly or monthly basis. Success metrics will need to be set, such as completion or quality of work. 

Taking a results-oriented approach will take time and effort from leaders to consider team objectives and understand what is a reasonable amount of workload per week/month. 

Team members are likely to experience autonomy with a results-based approach as they have more flexibility in their schedule and pace of work without the burden of tracking hours. Some may even find themselves completing tasks more efficiently, as their desire to run the clock no longer exists. 

A Choice and An Opportunity

The digital age has allowed a large portion of our workforce to work remotely. In light of recent events with the pandemic, we’re also seeing a surge of typical office employees now working from their homes.

With the new adjustments and change of protocols, companies are faced with the opportunity to restructure parts of their business model that they never considered, such as their productivity measurements. 

Many employers are faced with the option to either micromanage or trust their team. Some may take the route of creating a strict time structure of a 9 to 5 work day– tracking screens and holding frequent check-ins. Others may allow workers flexibility and control, as long as their work is completed by the end of the day/week.

Allowing workers autonomy and independence instills a sense of accountability in an individual, as well as helps build confidence in a team


Tracking employees’ hours has had its place in the past, and still holds value today for many careers. However, jobs that are project-based, quota-based, or knowledge-based will find that productivity is more effectively calculated by analyzing the quality of results with some consideration of time, rather than looking at time alone. Employees’ work ethics can be exposed when a clock is determining their income. With a result-based mindset, efficient work is prioritized and individuals are given the freedom to work at their own pace. 

Knowted offers a myriad of products and services to help workers develop their leadership skills and build teams on productivity and trust. Reach out directly for more information.

Re-Humanizing The Workplace

Professional development engagements designed to provide practical skills that enhance personal and work performance.

Schedule a Consultation