Working Schedules – Strict vs. Relaxed

Now that I have been working at Texas Instruments about four months  I can start to draw some accurate comparisons towards my former employer, Texas Memory Systems.  One of the biggest differences I have noticed is the difference in working schedule policy (the times you are required to be in the office, work, etc).

First let me start with my previous employer, Texas Memory Systems. They are considerably smaller than Texas Instruments (the entire company consists of 100ish employees).  TMS was extremely strict with what times that you had to come in and be at the office. Everyone was allowed to choose their own schedule from a set of predefined time sets.  Since I am more productive in the morning, I chose a 7:30am – 4:00pm “shift” with a 30 minute lunch. The management apparently monitored employees’ working habits like hawks and would take disciplinary actions if there were any violations. Furthermore, what made this system stressful was the existence of many computer monitors mounted throughout the office with a list of everyone who has clocked in for the day and the times they had clocked in and out. This was particularly stressful for me in that I was in the minority of people that liked to come in early and leave early. Whenever I clocked out, I would get dirty looks from some people like I was slacking off (when in reality I had come in two hours before them). On top of that, from time to time there were executive “mandates” that required employees to work a certain number of hours a week (I remember once where employees were required to work minimum 48 hours a week). I hold the strong belief that more working hours by no means equals more productivity. The first couple of 48 hour weeks might result in a disproportionate increase in productivity, but  this effect quickly diminishes.

Pros Cons
A good way to weed out slacking employees that might only work 25 hours a week otherwise Inflexible for employees with kids/families that may have to work erratic schedules
No hunting around for someone when they are not actually in the office Ruins one of the major benefits of being a salaried employee (feels like you work at McDonald’s)
Fosters a more “routine” working environment Inflexible for those times where you might have to stay at home to wait for maintenance man, delivery, etc.
If you come in early, you still feel guilty clocking out early even though you will work the same amount of time than those that came in late

My current employer, Texas Instruments (at least the group that I am in) is a lot more relaxed with working schedules. It is typically what you would expect out of the standard salaried engineering position. Everyone is expected to work at least forty hours a week.  There is no rule about when you have to be in the office vs. working from home, nor is there any system to track the exact number of hours that one employee works every week. Pretty much it boils down to, “get your work done”. If you are doing that then you will have no problems working at least forty hours a week.

Pros Cons
Places more trust in the employees and feels like a real salaried engineering position Potential for abuse by less trustworthy employees
Complete flexibility. Ability to work from home when needed without taking sick/vacation Makes it hard to meet with people that frequently work from home
No feeling guilty about coming in early and leaving work early Can lead to a more irregular working regiment where you work at odd hours during the night
Your working schedule is not plastered up on the walls publically for everyone to gawk at

In the end I would say that I prefer TI’s system more. If management hires quality employees that they can trust then there is no need to worry about abuse. To me, if there are people that abuse the system, then they shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. In the long run I think that these people go away as the quality of their work is usually impacted by how little they work.