Headlines: September 25th, 2009

With more job cuts in prospect across the public and private sectors, attention is being focused on ‘who to let go’. This new focus is having its effect on managers and staff alike. Monitoring workplace activity has revealed some interesting changes in behaviour, but the statistics come with a health warning.

Surveys over the last nine months by OfficeMetrics, a provider of performance management software, have revealed a change in working patterns. The statistics show a great divergence between the attitudes of male and female workers in light of the recession. Staff are seeking methods of proving their dedication and value to their employers such as spending longer hours in the office. The surveys reveal that in July this year, UK workers were spending on average 15 minutes longer at their desks than they were nine months ago. However, the amount of time spent on work based activities had reduced by three per cent.

Since the economic downturn took hold, the figures show that women have been striving to superficially demonstrate their commitment at work more so than men in an attempt to ensure job security. On average, women started work 18 minutes earlier in July this year than in November last year. Rather than logging in at 9.00am as in November, in July women were at their desks at 8.42am. Male workers logged on at 8.56am in July as opposed to 8.54am in November 2008.

In January 2009, women were only 87 percent as productive as men during the working day despite being in the office for almost an hour longer. In July 2009, women improved their efficiency to become 94 per cent as productive as men, but women were still spending longer at work.

These statistics come with a warning from Jon Mulligan, MD of OfficeMetrics: “Managers need a clearer indication of how employees are spending their time at work. Our research has shown that assessing time in the office to judge employees can be extremely misleading and many of those who seem to be spending longer at work are in fact spending more time on personal browsing and social networking sites. Therefore, employees and managers need to understand how time is spent rather than clock watching.”