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Irrational Fairness Obsession



Hi everybody, I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions that people send in. This question is a little on the long side, so stay with me.

We’re having a huge debate in our company about policies around hours of work, start and end times. I’m a senior executive and have some influence. My bias is I don’t really care what time people come or go, nor do I care about the significant details of their job except for the fact that we expect them to perform and accomplish their goals. We seem to have an ‘irrational fairness obsession’ in our company. I get that there are some jobs like call center, manufacturing floor, production type jobs that require specific times, but there are many more that do not.

What are your suggestions for how I can persuade those on our team looking at this issue that’s not an issue?


Wow, that is such a good question. I would say what you just said. I would say that we live in a world of people, in fact the research is very clear, people that have flex hours in terms of when they work and how they work tend to be much more productive. People that work from home overall, in general (about 65%) tend to be more productive working from home than working from the office.

So, you’re right. But if your company has an irrational fairness obsession it’s going to be hard to do it. So I would ask, if you’re a senior executive, if you can try an experiment in your working group or department. And see what happens to productivity with the ‘non hours essential’ people (i.e. if you have a receptionist, that doesn’t make sense). Do this experimental model in your department first, see how it works in your department, and then share the results.

Now, what’s going to happen with an ‘irrational fairness obsession’ is your colleagues are going to go “Why do your people get to do it and my people don’t?”. Well that’s not your problem, if you’ve got the authority. If not, you might have to just hold your nose and deal with this irrational fairness obsession, and that could be very very rough.

Hope that’s helpful, I’m Mike Staver, this is Mondays with Mike. Until next week, take care.

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