My old boss once told me that he hated clock watchers. It was a long time ago and the memory has stuck with me. The inference was clear. He wanted people who stuck with the job through thick and thin, who started early and worked late and would see things through. He hated those people who came in on time and left on time.
Now, I never really understood this and from that day was determined not to be one of those people he aspired us to be. I wanted to be one of those he hated. I wanted to come into work when I was ready and go home when it was time to do so. So far, in the main, I have managed.
I guess the irony is though that by checking when people came and went he was indeed as much of a clock watcher as they were. He just wanted more than his pound of flesh.
Yes, I often started earlier than I should have done and from time to time worked later than was ideal but I have tried to make sure that I got away as soon as I could.
Since that day I have tried to maximise the time I have available at work rather than work to extend the time available. Work is important to me yet so is my time outside of it. He had fallen into the trap of measuring commitment by time rather than achievement. It’s a trap as old as work itself (which remember is a fairly recent invention) and one we should rail against. Even today when I hear us talk about time and attendance systems I shudder at the thought of measuring people by when they enter a building or leave it.
We work to get things done rather than just to fill our time. We should focus on outputs and outcomes rather than longevity. We should be aware of our circadian rhythms.
In my book we should all be clock watchers. We should watch to make sure we give value for the time we are paid and we should watch to make sure we go when the time comes.