Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a clock watcher. I believe you dedicate the time to get a job done- whether it is completing a project or perfecting a skill. But as a leader in the new workplace, I find myself watching the clock.
Labor laws were not made for our 24/7 social media world that we are living in today. The laws are based traditional 40 hour work weeks with overtime laws based on working more than the 40. This leads to a huge issue for leaders. You have a mix of professionals, support staff, and production workers who are all classified and compensated differently.
Not only do you need to be mindful of what your team is doing during traditional work hours or shifts, you need to be aware of their personal time too. Contacting hourly employees or salaried employees who earn less than the Department of Labor’s thresholds during their off hours needs to be documented, and the employees’ hours need to be adjusted.
You might just be asking your admin to check your flight, but that fifteen minutes of work while he is at home needs to be tracked. The same goes for the texts and emails that get sent (and you expect the recipient to answer) from customers, colleagues on different shifts, etc. Don’t forget the “Can you post this?” requests as well. They are all work requests that are not happening during traditional work hours, but need to be tracked. Otherwise both your team and you are out of compliance with the law. Remember every communication sent and received is time stamped. It is not hard to figure out that your team is answering out of work.
This is especially dangerous with shared services, especially when you are responsible for the cost center, but not all of the work comes from your team. Multiple bosses may be asking for a person to complete tasks without them realizing it.
There are some ways to make sure your team is covered and compliant.
1. Ask your “affected” employees to track their time spent out of work on work issues and deduct it from their weekly in office rules. For instance, if you notice that a person spends three hours a week working at home, let them leave at 2 pm on Fridays.
2. Encourage non-essential workers to not bring home their laptop, check email or answer company related texts. This way they are truly out of pocket.
3. Be more mindful of your requests. If you are no longer emailing at 2 am, chances are your team will stop too.
4. Shorten your “in office” work week to compensate for the out of work responses. Working 8:30-4:30 reduces your work hours to 37.5 hours meaning that the first 2.5 hours working out of work are covered.
Some labor attorneys are going to make a lot of money on this with a class action suit. Make sure your team is not the reason your company goes under.