I don’t work in an office anymore. There are certain aspects of it that I miss–the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment when a task was well-done–but there is one thing I do NOT miss.
The attendance police.
The Family And Medical Leave Act passed after I left my job at the Travel Agency (CUC Travel) and went to work in an office environment. It made working in offices much better because the threat of losing a job that I did well stopped hanging over my head. Yet there was always one person in ANY office who felt the need to monitor when everyone got in and when they left. Every office has someone in it who thinks that being a warm body in the building is more important than what one does when they are actually at work. Many was the time that I watched various self-appointed Attendance Police be strict about walking through the door at 8am. Then she’d (they’re invariably women for some reason) sit down at her desk, eat some breakfast and do a bit of online shopping, catch up with her buddies and then wade through emails…some of which were from family members.
But it didn’t matter as long as you were in the building by 8am (or 9am or whatever the appointed start time of the day was.)
I’ve worked in multiple offices where the staff is zombified for the first two and a half hours of the day, only beginning to perk up around midmorning. To me it always seemed like it’d be more efficient to have flex hours, telling employees to come in when they were ready to work (as long as it was between 7am and 11am) and then work their 8hour day when they were at optimum functionality. I know a lot of people who would have been much better at their jobs if they’d had 11-7 instead of 8-4. Conversely, I also know a few folk who do better from 7-3, fueled for working in the morning and tapering off in the afternoon. (I myself am of the former; when working from my home office before I got too ill my day would run from 10-6.)
In a case involving a schizophrenic employee whose medication caused him to feel drowsy and sluggish in the morning, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that on-time arrival at work is not always an essential job function. McMillan v. City of New York
For some employees–admin assistants who need to answer phones when the business opens and get packages out before the first UPS/Fedex pickup, for instance–a set start time is essential. For the bulk of office employees, however, the idea of a fixed start time is a waste of the human resource not unlike running the air-conditioning in the dead of winter.