The Case Against Employee Work HoursIn the 21st century, what’s more important for your employees—clocking work hours or achieving goals? Is the traditional nine to five, 40-hour work week still the best structure for your workforce or is it a woefully outmoded approach to employee productivity?

Everyone knows the nature of work is changing, but many companies cling to the traditional work week model, with diminishing results. According to Ilya Pozin, founder of Ciplex and a frequent contributor to Inc., Forbes and LinkedIn, adhering to this inflexible approach without understanding its effects on employees ensures an erosion of trust.

“Nothing kills productivity quite like an environment where employees feel forced to work,” Pozin contends.

Instead, employees should want to get work done, both to benefit the company and because they enjoy what they’re doing.

Give employees the opportunity to come and leave at will, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a spike in their productivity and output.

Pozin offers four reasons to put an end to structured work hours.

The Case Against Employee Work Hours

They kill productivity. Having established work hours means you measure productivity not by whether goals are met, but by how many hours employees sit at their desks. But their presence in the office or at a meeting does not, in and of itself, have anything to do with productivity.

Where’s the trust? “Employees should passionately want to meet their goals,” Pozin says. “Let them do it in the ways they see fit.” Show trust by freeing them from the traditional work week. They’ll likely take more pride and initiative in their work.

Set hours are distracting. In a traditional work week, employees end up thinking more about the hours they clock than meeting their assigned objectives. But when faced with a big project, Pozin says, “it’s important your employees don’t feel inclined to exit as soon as the clock strikes 5 p.m.” Let them determine how long they have to be on-site to get a job done. Create quotas based on work, rather than time.

Teamwork suffers. Teamwork can be incredibly effective in getting things done, but when individual team members are locked into set working hours, issues arise about everyone contributing their fair share. Try allowing employees to concentrate on meeting team goals, even if that means “a team effort in the office during the same hours or working individually in divided chunks of time.”

Dropping established work hours just might result in dramatically increased productivity. Consider allowing more flexibility and autonomy in your workforce, and see if these efforts translate into greater trust.

As Pozin notes, “Employee happiness and productivity are linked to trust—and enforcing hours shows exactly the opposite.”

Are you considering an alternative to the “punch-the-clock” approach?