Robert C Pozen:
By applying an industrial-age mind-set to 21st-century professionals, many organizations are undermining incentives for workers to be efficient. If employees need to stay late in order to curry favor with the boss, what motivation do they have to get work done during normal business hours? After all, they can put in the requisite “face time” whether they are surfing the Internet or analyzing customer data. It’s no surprise, then, that so many professionals find it easy to procrastinate and hard to stay on a task.
There is an obvious solution here: Instead of counting the hours you work, judge your success by the results you produce. Did you clear a backlog of customer orders? Did you come up with a new idea to solve a tricky problem? Did you write a first draft of an article that is due next week? Clearly, these accomplishments — not the hours that you log — are what ultimately drive your organization’s success.
If I were starting a company, one thing I'd be sure to do is to rethink the 40 hour work week. 40 hours just seems like something we all accept as the way, but nobody seems to stop and wonder if it's for the best. Maybe it is, but I'd be willing to bet a workplace could be made much better with fewer hours.