Settled into new pandemic work-from-home routines, many knowledge workers are calling for the end of the traditional work week.
Some discovered the joys of remote work, like flexibility in work-life transitions and freedom from commutes.
Others, juggling school-from-home with two working parents, rely on the flexibility of remote work just to get their jobs done – often after the kids go to bed.
Throughout the transition, remote workers have proven to be productive. Working from home is not necessarily better, but it’s unquestionably possible.
Fueled by this revelation, recent blogs and social media posts declare “the work week is obsolete,” asking, “As long as we get the work done, can’t we work whenever we want?”
The work week is not obsolete, because business is not about the work itself – it’s about serving customers.
Customers want lattes
Businesses exist to serve the wants and needs of customers, a promise called a customer value proposition.
For example, a coffee shop promises to create the latte you’re craving when you want it at a fair price.
If a customer arrived during business hours and found the coffee shop was closed because the barista was on “flex time,” the customer would be upset. The disappointed customer becomes less loyal to the coffee shop. If enough customers lose enough loyalty, the coffee shop will fail.
Businesses who serve customers during advertised times must limit employee flexibility to maintain customer loyalty. The business must deliver its promise, the customer value proposition, to remain viable.
Baristas need support
But what about knowledge workers? Building on the coffee shop example, imagine this scenario:
It’s 7am at the coffee shop, lines of customers are demanding lattes, and the payment system stops working. The barista can’t take orders or accept payment. It’s an emergency!
The barista calls the vendor’s service line for help fixing the payment system. An agent answers the phone and troubleshoots, but can’t resolve the issue. The agent escalates the call to a system engineer.
Like the coffee shop, the payment system vendor also has a customer value proposition – and the coffee shop is the customer. The vendor must staff the service line during business hours to support the coffee shop and other customers.
Once again, the vendor limits employee flexibility to maintain customer commitments – and this chain of support extends from business to business.
We want trust
The work week won’t be obsolete because we support customers and their time-bound needs and wants. However, we shouldn’t ignore an important theme in the blogs and social posts calling for the end of the work week.
Remote work hasn’t shattered productivity and the workers have a message for employers:
We are trustworthy. If you trust us, we will get the work done.
Measure us on the quality of our work, not the number of hours we’re “clocked in.”
Inspire us with a vision of the future that gives purpose to our work, and we will show up and deliver.
And, when the opportunity exists, we appreciate a little flexibility.