Reverse Telecommuting

There are so many new words being birthed by the changing workplace.  Words like “googling” as a verb, electronic immigrants, prairie dogging, ohnosecond, blamestorming, seagull manager, chainsaw consultant, flight risk, assmosis, uninstalled, and cube farm.

We all understand the term “telecommuting” – when you have work from the office to complete at home.  How about the opposite of that – “reverse telecommuting.”  This is the commonplace practice of bringing personal work to the office. It’s no secret a whole lot of time is spent with employees paying personal bills, making personal phone calls, making flight arrangements, medical and social appointments, reading online newspapers, updating FaceBook, and texting family members – all on company time.

Arguably, some of these can only be handled during normal work hours, but how much is acceptable?  According to a recent survey by, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.  Yes, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when they determine employee pay.  However, the survey indicates employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.  Estimates are that employers are spending $769 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

Would you be willing to be paid for results only, rather than for time spent in the office?  Would that increase or decrease your compensation?

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20 Responses to “Reverse Telecommuting”

  1. Glenda Says:

    Results are hard to judge. We have 100% commissions staff and they are continually required to maintain their current book but 30% each compounding year to break even with expenses and add 10% new sales. That is the average for each employee.

    I on the other hand, am salary and I loose my job if I’m not able to maintain the business within a certain error %, though that is quite nebulous with regard to who I’m working with at the time.

    If Management is underpaying me because they are expecting that I’m wasting a certain amount of time, they are taking the wrong angle. We are all given 1 hour lunches and 15 minute breaks in our office, but I cannot tell you the last time it was that I actually had one of those 15 minutes, aside from running for a cup of coffee, or water I rarely take a break and my lunches, if I even leave my desk are usually 20-30 minutes. Yet, I’m always just short of expectations with regard to meeting time lines.

    I’m salary and I’ve been keeping a fairly accurate time log and I’m at 108 hours over the average 40 since the start of the year, and I was up to 140 at one point. I’ve worked to 9 or 10 several times to make a deadline.

    So, in a way I think I am paid for results.

  2. Erica Says:

    I absolutely wish I was on commission instead of salary. I’ve worked at a number of companies and feel some are so focused on who is putting in extra hours they often overlook the person getting things done so they don’t have to work overtime. I’m a lot more efficient in my job so I would certainty benefit from commission. Another problem with salary is your often expected or asked to work overtime. So not only are you not in control of how much you make, you’re not in control of your time either so you’re probably going to have to use company time to get personal stuff done at the office.

  3. Brian Blackburn Says:

    I think we all do better with pressure but How much pressure is needed for each person. While how much can He or She handle before production starts to decrease?

  4. Larry Hehn Says:

    As an aspiring author working on my second book, I still rely on my “day job” to pay the bills. I’ve been a production and inventory control specialist for close to 20 years. I am very good at what I do, and often have all aspects of my job organized so well that there is simply not enough work to fill an 8-hour day. However, my employers have always insisted that I be physically present for at least those 8 hours, five days per week.

    Sad but true, I could often get just as much done for my employer in a focused three-hour “day” as I could in the mandatory eight. In that situation I would love to have the option of spending those other five hours writing, researching, updating my website or enjoying time with my family. I would even be willing to take a pay cut to have that type of arrangement.

    Bottom line, if I were paid for results only, my employer would not only have the opportunity to save money but I would ultimately be a lot more productive and fulfilled both inside and outside my day job.

  5. GE Oakley Says:

    2.09 hours a day, and I clocked out today to call the phone company, on my personal cell phone to make changes to my home service because it was the right thing to do.

  6. Carrie Says:

    I work 40 hours a week (hourly job) and come home in the afternoons. I wonder sometimes how those who work on a salary manage to handle their responsibilities outside the office…if they’re at work all the time. If someone works from the crack of dawn to late night, several days a week, when are they supposed to do this? It would HAVE to be on company time.

  7. Vanessa Says:

    Yes, I would absolutely prefer to be paid for results only, rather than for the time spent in the office. That would give me the freedom to focus on the results in the most time-effiecient manner regardless of how heavy or light the work flow is at the present time. I telecommute, under contract, and currently on lighter days, I look for things to fill up my time just to log the hours that are required. Yet on heavier work load days, I put in the same hours or more. I believe I would feel more in control of managing my life’s balance rather than be a slave to the clock.

  8. Patty Says:

    Pay for results is a great idea, as long as you, the payee, know what the goals are and the real possibility of reaching them. It also requires that the employee have the real ability to increase customer traffic and thus their results.
    If “pay for results” is just a euphemism for “I want to pay you less” then it is not a win-win opportunity and the business loses credibility and desirability a place of employment.
    Some positions require the actual presence of a person, hospital nurse and policeman come to mind, and it would be dangerous to quantify their activities to justify their pay. I like “pay for results” and the idea of controlling my income through improved performance but I also realize that sometimes it may not work.

  9. Jan Says:

    Being paid for results only is a great idea. It makes a lot of sense since results should normally be what a business is selling – not time spent by the employees. However, it seems like many people, and also managers, don’t see that in today’s environment, time spent does not always have a linear relationship with actual results.

  10. Charles Says:

    I would welcome pay for results – in the last 2 years I have saved my employer close to half a million dollars by innovating solutions to issues that, according to consultants, either couldn’t be done, or would take hundreds of hours to do. It all results from a little saying I live by, “Never lose to a machine.” A percentage of that savings would be a great thing, since it was all over and above what I already do.

    For those of you who are managers, but are also clockwatchers, I’ll tell you how you may miss out on results like these. I’ve had multiple opportunities to leave, but turn down the extra money each time due to the flexibility. I have four children, from preschool to high school, and I’m often 15-30 minutes or so late from the preschool dropoff (or from getting the toddler ready – if you’ve been there your head’s nodding, if you haven’t been there, your project management skills haven’t been stretched as far as you think), or if the kids miss the bus, or that bright and shining morning when both happen, then the toddler gets sick in the parking lot of their daycare. It’s not from laziness, or from being a scofflaw, but results from the fact that life exists, and a combination of when it is permissible to drop off the child and how she gets going of a morning. My wife is also a professional, and we had to divide and conquer, because she goes in extra early, using the other side of the clock so she can help with the afternoon stuff that needs to be done and still fulfill her obligations.

    Nevertheless, I’m not accosted by the ‘timekeeper’. Some from different areas probably mumble – but at 6:00 p.m. I see very few people except for second-shifters, so I’m assuming the mumblers don’t stay to see when the end of my day happens.

    It’s known I pay back time that I flex pretty much 2:1, and I often don’t lunch. Just knowing the whole timeclock experience isn’t there for me as a professional makes it worth the effort and sacrifice of sometimes logging in during the wee hours to implement something that just came to me in the middle of the night, sometimes working all weekend on a project, etc. I trained and certified in my field, and I continually research it to assure my knowledge is current, because I feel I am being paid for my expertise.

    To some managers the clock is the all-defining criteria for employees, and in some cases that is appropriate. Just know that if you look hard at the clock when it’s 8:00, your employees will look hard at it when it’s 5:00. Ask yourself if what your company does is of the nature that everything can just be shut down right on time, whether the task is complete or not, then manage your people and their time accordingly. All I can say is I’ve never had a $100,000 breakthrough at 8:00 a.m., but I have had at least one at 8:00 p.m. Good thing I wasn’t clocked out when the idea hit.

  11. Carl Beatty Says:

    I think you shouldnt waste company time, but alot of managers at my workplace, we’ll call it HD. Use there texting phones all day long, and say that its communication with other managers. Now how true is that? I do text, but mostly to say when I will be home for dinner, or lunch break. Also these same managers eat food in the Glass see through office, then tell us we cannot have a coffee out on the floor. Ive notice, alot of double standards in my management, but I still obey them, even when the are hypocritical. Personally, customers walk around talking on their cells, and dont even give us the time of day, so it could be hurting customer service too, because when is the right time to interrupt a customer. One employee, i use to work with wouldnt even acknowledge customers who were on the cell, because the kept ignoring him, when he was trying to cell them what they needed. Texting is much less of a problem, I think because the words of what the person is thinking are not being said for all to hear, which can sometimes be obnoxious and annoying. Ok rant done!

  12. Josh Says:

    I bet if people were paid on results they would look for more ways to get their job done faster, not just waiting for the clock to run out so they can get their pay. I also believe there would be less pointless meetings because everybody would be motivated to get everything done as soon as possible.

    Would people be more likely to focus solely on their work if they enjoyed what they were doing?

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  13. mattie rainier dibona Says:

    yes, i would. in fact if you waste as much time as shown in the study – you are actually stealing from the comany. you can do much of your business on your breaks since the tennessee law does not even require employers to give breaks i don’t believe.

  14. Trudy Says:

    I am a graphic designer who worked full time at an office.
    I really enjoy what I do, but when there wasn’t enough work to fill 8 hours a day, I didn’t feel good about wasting time at the office to get a paycheck.

    I actually went to the CEO and asked him to lay me off and hire me
    back freelancing. It was a win— win situation… (A) It gave me the freedom to work at home and be more flexible (B) It saved them money, (C) I was able to kept my integrity.

  15. Matt Says:

    The 40 hour work week is a relic left over from factory and manual work. Henry Ford instituted the 40-hour work week after running productivity experiments for over 12 years. He found that 40 hours is the maximum amount of time that people can work sustainably. Beyond that, people start to fatigue, leading to mistakes, illness and poor morale.

    The problem with this is that his workers mainly did monotonous, manual work. For people who now do “knowledge” work, productivity studies have shown that 30 hours a week is best for this kind of work.

    If people are wasting 2 hours out of an 8 hour day, that seems about right.

    Don’t blame people, blame the system.

  16. Dawn Says:

    I have to agree with Matt. The system is flawed. It really all depends on the type of work you perform and what is required to complete the work daily. However, businesses should really take a look at man hours and the competence of people. In other words, are businesses waisting money on people who cannot perform competently? Of couse, but how do we remedy that? Over staffed workplaces can lead to having too much time to do personal work, but on the other hand 8-5 is required for conducting some personal business that does not require individuals to take off as long as it is not excessive. It s a catch 22.

  17. Lemuel Lewis Says:

    I find it interesting that 7 of 16 comments thus far were made between 8AM and 5PM. I suppose they work the night shift?
    I have worked on commission most all of my adult life. That is the way to go for someone who applies themselves to a trade that has the ability to be productivity-pay based. I agree that there is no way to judge what a job is worth in some professions. I am deeply grateful to the police, firemen, military, ditch diggers, garbage haulers, teachers and so many other hourly or salaried professionals. As for me, I have worked at businesses that paid me hourly and the pay was poor with raises few and far between and the general atmosphere of the employees and management was almost always rather negative. These were not pleasant places to work for me.
    On the other hand, I work at a job that requires me to be on site from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM with an hour for lunch. I receive no hourly pay. If I do little or if I do a lot, my pay is based on what I do. If I do a poor job, I must stop whatever else I may be doing and attend to making that previous job right…at no pay. That is definately incentive to do the job well the first time.
    Bottom line, I am good at what I do and am well paid for it because I wish to continually improve myself and to offer the best service to my customers that I possibly can. That makes the customers happy and keeps them returning which makes my employer happy. Also, because I am good at what I do, I do my work efficiently and quickly which allows me to turn out even more work, making more pay.

  18. Noel McAvoy Says:

    I would definitely be willing to be paid based on results. I am lucky that my employer has been somewhat flexible with regards to my scheduling and with some telecommuting. In return I am able to be flexible in other areas like working late or on weekends (from home). I think it depends on the position but for many, this could work!

  19. Nikki Says:

    I am a paralegal in a 4-attorney firm. My ability to generate work is entirely dependent on one attorney assigning me jobs. I consistently fail to meet my billable hour requirement, simply because I’m not given work. And yes, I do ask for work. I make it clear that I have nothing billable to do. I still do not make my billable requirement. And then, at least three times a year, I am yelled at by the boss (who is not the person responsible for assigning me work) that I’m not fulfilling his expectations of me, and that he should fire me.

    At my current place of employment, I am not willing to be paid based on results. I’m looking for a new career.

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