This heuristic seems to work pretty well for him. His planning was never far from perfect and he did deliver quite a few large projects within the timelines.
If you need to accomplish TaskX, you work with the team that will do TaskX to come up with a valid estimate of effort required to complete it -- say, 300 hours of work.
You could just naively assume that this task would then be done in 300 hours / 8 hours per day / # of workers, but that assumes 100% productivity -- which isn't true basically anywhere.
The thing is, though, for many business models being able to accurately estimate time and cost is critical, and so is executing vs. that estimate.
It's nice to be able to say "I have no idea how long this will take," but it's also a luxury not available to many (most?) developers.
I'd much rather work 4 hour days with no hot drinks or chatting than 8 hours at a relaxed pace. I can do unproductive activities in my own time.
I changed my work setup to be contact based (by project, not by hour), and I now get more done in 20 hours than I did with 40 hours, and I feel that's because I can:
- take breaks without getting flak for it from management
- interact with clients/partners when I choose to (email, IM, etc, all of which can be muted/ignored)
- work longer when I feel I'm doing well, work less when I'm distracted
However, every office has different expectations, so maybe mine was just particularly bad. IDK.
Offices are a distraction except for meetings, integrations, planning but for actual work they are horrible.
Think of all the greats, they all had their own lab/study and that is where the great work was done.
Funny thing is, even when we go to work at an office lots of the communication is virtual internally via text/email/systems with people an room/office over, next building, or other office in another city. When you deal with clients and customers it is mostly virtual.
We should focus more on virtual communication in modern project processes/management as it is the default even in an office for your co-workers, customers and more. Remote working and virtual communication helps that even if meetings/integrations are physical, focus and work flow can be more tuned in.
That said, this is a garbage study:
The study, conducted by www.vouchercloud.com, polled 1,989 UK office workers all aged over 18 as part of research into the online habits and productivity of workers across the nation. All respondents currently worked full-time in an office role.
Respondents were initially asked, ‘Do you consider yourself to be productive throughout the entire working day?’ to which the majority, 79% admitted that ‘no’ they weren’t. Just a fifth, 21%, believed that ‘yes’ they were productive throughout the day.
The study asked then asked respondents, ‘If you had to state a figure, how long do you think you spend productively working during work hours on a daily basis?’ The results of this revealed the average answer to be ‘2 hours and 53 minutes’ of actual productivity in the workplace across all respondents.
It's PR fluff and not worthy of serious discussion.
In "Deep Work", Newport also suggests distinguishing between 'shallow' and 'deep' activities. 'deep' = 'requires extended period of focus / attention'. Shallow = e.g. replying to messages.
-- I think an important point is: even without any of these distractions, you still wouldn't be getting more than 3 hours of deep work each day.
Albeit, not all work is deep. Meetings can be valuable. And not all the "unproductive distractions" given in TFA are bad.
I run pomodoros (standard, 25-min) whenever I'm trying to focus on work, and aim to have as much of them as hours at work. I have three marks here: the bronze standard = 100% ratio, i.e. 8 pomodoros for 8 hours of work. The silver standard is 150% ratio, i.e. 12 pomodoros for 8 hours of work. The gold standard is 200%, i.e. 16 pomodoros for 8 hours of work. Note that even the gold standard is only about 6 hours and 40 minutes, because a pomodoro has 25 minutes.
I consider a day in which I hit the bronze standard to be a good day. That adds up to about 3 hours 20 minutes of focused work time, so it's consistent with your result, with the article, and with what I've seen reported around HN. It's surprising how much you actually can accomplish in that time, but I find it frustrating that it can be difficult to get to even that on a regular work day.
I don't really care about what 1000 people don't do. I'd rather learn why 10 people work the way they do, and how to change it.
But then, if a server goes down late at night, people all the sudden show up by themselves and fix problems. Also on a rainy Saturday or Sunday, people will all the sudden be online and working.
Give people the opportunity to be in charge of their own work schedule, give them the responsibility, make them feel that they're actually responsible and they will shine.
I really don't want this to be a promotion and also because I just shared it on the other thread, but I really think people (both business owners and employees) should have a look at our just released company handbook which covers a great deal how we work. If anyone thinks this is unrelated spam I'm more than happy to remove it.
* https://mobilejazz.com/company-handbook (landing page, if you want to get email updates)
* https://mobilejazz.com/docs/company-handbook/mobile-jazz-com... (direct link to the PDF for the HN crowd)
Nevertheless, remote teams and flexible hours and maker time and all that, yes!
A case where it’s more productive to be skiving.
Bob Slydell: If you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Bob Slydell: Great.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door–that way Lumberg can’t see me, heh–after that I sorta space out for an hour.
Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.
... later ...
Bob Slydell: I’d like to move us right to Peter Gibbons. We had a chance to meet this young man, and boy that’s just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.
Also, productivity requires motivation and mission. If people aren't paid enough or don't get to share in the profits, why should they kill themselves for more company-only money? Meaningful co-ops and worker profit-sharing has a chance to remedy the situation and make people care about a venture. The other part is giant organizations having BS jobs without very much to do, let dead weight type jobs accumulate because large organizations make managers look good. OTOH, smaller shops tend to be more agile and not put up with any dead weight. Perhaps a solution is a Richard Branson one: keep splitting up organizations before they get too big so they're a loose-coupled confederation of business units. Since big business pyramids drain money and agility from an organization, try not to go there.
PS: I know a former DIA sysadmin who said numerous classified researchers lost their careers by surfing for porn on known monitored networks. Why would someone do that? It seems a shop like that should have monitors in the hallways anonymously listing non-official business URLs people are visiting from classified/unclassified networks to make publicly-obvious.