As the CEO of mobile gaming company, TheAppGuruz, I am always keen to learn and implement newer ways to boost employee productivity. As the head of a team of 20, I also understand that this isn’t an easy puzzle to solve. So my team and I constantly experiment.
Firstly, a confession – unlike what many outsiders may believe – work, even at a gaming company, can gradually become boring! It’s not always great characters and challenging gameplay and awesome downloads – most work actually boils down to good old hard work.
The Old Way
We started as a services company, making apps and games for our clients. Just like any corporate, we too had implemented strict timings: eight-and-a-half hours, to be put in at the company.
It worked, but not to the fullest. We soon realised physical presence isn’t quite the same as guaranteed productivity. So we wanted to keep improving things.
We tried a lot of things like flexible working hours, DND (Do Not Disturb) sessions, 2 hours of learning everyday and lot of minor things to improve the productivity of the work we are doing.
For sure, these things helped us inch closer towards our productivity goals. Now we work better and smarter than we used to previously. We are improving ourselves day by day.
During all these experiments, however, I figured out one truth: employees work best when given freedom, when you instil the confidence in them. Trust them and give them responsibility, they won’t let you down.
While my team and I were happy with what we were doing and getting out of work, we didn’t want to stop experimenting. So we asked a tough question:
What do employees want?
The answer, not surprisingly, was different for every employee.
Some of them wanted to learn a new technology, others wanted to learn a musical instrument. A few wanted to earn some extra money so that they could better support their family. A couple of them also had a pet project in mind.
The common denominator for all of these desires was more time.
The New Way
Over the years, I’ve grown pretty sure there’s more to life than getting up at 7, logging in the office comp by 9:30 AM, get back home by 7:00 PM, eat and go to bed. And that applies not just to me, that applies to all the members of my team.
So we decided to take a dramatic step: cut down the working hours by 25%. From the 8 hours plus, we decided we’ll cut down the number of hours to 6.
The 6-hour day: A month-long experiment
We have just begun working 6 hours a day. We just started this yesterday. We are trying this out for a month. We will study how it’s turning out. If everything works out well, we’ll continue working with the 6-hour day.
But there’s more.
We also changed our timings. Earlier, we worked from 9:30 AM to 6:00PM, with a 30-minute lunch break.
Now, we start a lot earlier. Office opens at 7:00 AM. People are expected to reach by 7:30 AM latest. We’ll all put in 6 fully committed hours and by 1:30 PM, we’re ready to leave. Yay!
A few thoughts went into this change of timings.
In our regular 9:30-to-6:00 schedule, we had observed productivity fell post lunch. Output slowed down visibly. Lunch seemed to slow us down!
Now, it’d be stupidly inhumane to cut lunch out! So we thought of a time arrangement which would free us before lunch time!
7:00 am – Office opens
7:30 am – Reach maximum by this time
7:30 am to 8:30 am – Work allotment (if needed) and work gets started
8:30 am to 10:30 am – DND (Do Not Disturb Session)
10:30 am to 10:45 am – Break
10:45 am to 11:15 am – Meeting discussing the work
11:15 am to 11:30 am – Settle down
11:30 am onwards – DND (Do Not Disturb Session)
Office closes at 2:00 pm
It’s just the second day of the experiment. Too early to report anything. But all the same, I can share with you a few things.
Firstly, it did force a few people to change their sleeping patterns slightly. To reach office in time meant they would need to get up early. Good for them!
Against this, however, there’s a bright tradeoff. My team would be free at 1:30 PM. That means they are absolutely free to do whatever they want, right from 1:30 PM to the start of the next working day. Play a sport, read books, learn something new, hang out, build a new project …
Yes, and also do freelancing work.
Freelancing Work – Why?
I’m trying to shake off the feeling of insecurity that if my team engages in freelancing work while being my employees, it’d put me to risk.
Yes, I do see there’s a risk. When employees start working on a freelance basis, soon they will be hard pressed for time. There’s also the inherent risk they’ll quit and take up those freelance projects on a full time basis (yes, we have had a few employees leave us to take that route).
But I am choosing to look at it the other way. When we agreed upon 6 hours, it was totally devoted six hours. No interruptions. So we all agreed that no outside work whatsoever will be brought or done during office hours in the office. Strictly. No phone calls for the freelance work during office hours.
But beyond that, my team was free. We didn’t want them to work on side projects in some secret, whisper-whisper way. As long as their freelance work wasn’t interfering with company work, we’ll not bother.
In fact, I choose to see a bright side as well: if some of my team members take up freelance work outside the company, they’ll surely learn a thing or two. At the end of the day, that will add value to the work they do in the company as well, right?
So I am seeing their freelance activities as something that doesn’t necessarily conflict, but something that is likely to contribute to the company down the road.
As I said earlier, the change in timings and everything was to free up people for things they wanted to do and let them enjoy.
A Final Word
I’m not sitting in some ivory tower, assuming everything will be fine with this new arrangement. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. All I can say is we’re all putting in an honest try.
The next week, I’ll share with you what’s happening at our end, how has everybody taken it and how are things in general. I am as much excited to see how it turns out as the rest of you.
Catch you next week!
This Article was originally posted on linkedin