There is no swift answer to this kind of dilemma except to negotiate so that you protect your sanity as well as your job prospects. In the end, if you take on a certain kind of work, you have to accept that you may be called upon at almost any time of the day or night, except when you turn off all your communication in order to sleep. In these circumstances, working time becomes so flexible as to be almost impossible to measure.
If we accept, for some of the reasons I have discussed, that working time must nowadays be flexible, then must we simply ensure that it is added up properly, so that people are appropriately rewarded for the hours they put in? Far from it, in my view. And this is where I see one of the most radical developments in the whole world of work.
As an employer, I am not interested in the number of hours someone puts in. All I care about is whether they use their time productively and achieve the task or tasks I have set them. I would far prefer to have someone who always overachieves on their allotted tasks, even if they manage this in just 10 hours a week, than someone who works round the clock yet fails to achieve what is required. In this I cannot be exceptional.
So this is how I see the whole question of working time resolving itself over the coming decades. People will need to be connected to work throughout their waking hours. They will work when they want to, and they will be judged and rewarded by what they achieve. In years to come, our grandchildren will mock our commitment to the daily commute and tolerance of "normal working hours".
Mark Dixon is CEO of Regus.
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