Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals, and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices - Collection on Technology and Work (Paperback)Leslie Perlow (author)
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Why do Americans work so hard? Are the long hours spent at work really necessary to increase organizational productivity? Leslie A. Perlow documents the worklife of employees who assume that for their own success and the success of their organization they must put in extended hours on the job. Perlow doesn't buy it. She challenges the basic assumption that the more employees work, the better the corporation will do.For nine months, Perlow studied the work practices of a product development team of software engineers at a Fortune 500 corporation. She reports her findings in detailed stories about individual employees and in more analytic chapters. Perlow first describes the individual heroics necessary to succeed in the existing work culture. She then explains how the system of rewards perpetuates crises and continuous interruptions,while discouraging cooperation. Finally, she shows how the resulting work practices damage both organizational productivity and the quality of individuals' lives outside of work. Perlow initiated a collaborative effort to restructure the way team members worked. Managers who were involved credit the project for the rare and important on-time launch of the product the engineers were developing. In the end, Finding Time shows that it is possible to create new work practices that enable individuals to have more personal and family time while also improving the corporation's productivity.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 255 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 11 mm
"It's not how hard you work, it's how you work-this is the idea of Finding Time... As long as 'efficiency and effectiveness are simply not valued to the same degree as physical presence and sacrifices in life outside of work,' Perlow suggest, both corporation and employees will suffer." -- Judith Newman, New York Times Book Review
"Perlow is an excellent storyteller. She captivates her readers through vivid and poignant accounts of the lives of the engineers, at times letting the anguished voices of the spouses be heard.... This well-written book addresses an important issue in today's workplace where people are being asked to work both harder and smarter.... Finding Time is worthwhile reading for a number of audiences. For researchers, it provides an excellent example of qualitative research. In addition, this book reminds individuals who are involved in implementing flexible work policies that, to be effective, such policies should be consistent with the organization's reward structure and cultural norms. It suggests to managers that they may wish to rethink their notions of productivity and what makes for a productive employee. For individuals whose work requires both individual effort and interaction with others, this book offers an innovative and practical solution for combating constant interruptions. Finally, to all of us,... this book presents an interesting opportunity to reconsider our personal definitions of success and what (or who) we are willing to sacrifice in the process of achieving success. Why win the (rat) race if there is no one at the finish line with you?"
"Perlow's book goes beyond the usual 'solutions' to work/family conflicts to offer innovative and practical solutions that benefit both men and women at work and at home." -- Joanne Martin, Stanford University (Business)
"Perlow's evidence from her extensive fieldwork for this book is reason enough to read it.... Finding Time will give the reader a close look at engineering work inside a large corporation and much to think about. The book is accessible to a broad range of readers, and it would be useful in graduate and undergraduate courses on work-related matters." -- Clifford L. Staples, Review of Radical Political Economics, September 1999
"There is often a negative effect on family life when professionals work long hours. Perlow sets out to determine if, in spite of the personal consequences, the corporation benefits when professionals work long hours.... The book tells the sad tale of a workforce that suffers the consequences of long hours under the assumption that accommodation to work demands will bring both personal and corporate success.... The author concludes that with long work hours there is so much wasted time through interruptions, time taken to help others or to be helped, and a constant crisis mentality that no one benefits. Perlow gives advice for improving the situation, including a shift from individual to team achievement."
"This book is an elegant and readable argument for consideration of a real and contemporary social problem."
"This study makes explicit a set of time dynamics that have been tough to grasp. The result is a vivid portrait of the vicious circles that often undermine our naive belief that time is something we can manage." -- Karl Weick, University of Michigan
"Using single men, working mothers and working fathers as examples, Perlow presents employees' chronicles in which they detail everything they do from when they get up to arrival at the office to lunchtime to going to bed.... While there are real difficulties-working mothers, rather than fathers, still have more responsibilities at home and will stay home with a sick child-there are also issues of perception. Driven, successful people are perceived to work long hours, to expand their workdays to include formal and impromptu discussions. So, while some employees requested flexible schedules, flextime seemed to hinder an employee's chances for promotion.... As a portrait of what is an all-too-common situation-employees finding there aren't enough hours in the day to meet their work and family demands-this is an interesting portrait."
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