My brother sent me this article that talks about "wasted" time at work and mentions a new approach to business: the "results-only work environment".

“The old thinking says ‘the longer it takes, the harder you’re working,” says Lynne Lancaster, a founder of BridgeWorks, a business consulting firm. “The new thinking is ‘if I know the job inside and out and I’m done faster than everyone else then why can’t I go home early?’ ”

A few companies are taking the concept of “watch what I produce, not how I produce it” even further. At the headquarters of Best Buy in Minneapolis, for instance, the hot policy of the moment is called ROWE, short for Results Only Work Environment.

There workers can come in at four or leave at noon, or head for the movies in the middle of the day, or not even show up at all. It’s the work that matters, not the method. And, not incidentally, both output and job satisfaction have jumped wherever ROWE is tried.

In other words, what looks like wasting time from where you sit, could be a whirl of creative thought from where I sit. And, with due respect to Mr. Gilbreth, all the energy that’s been poured into trying to force everyone to work at the same pace and in the same way — it seems that’s the real waste of time.

As the article notes, a product built from knowledge and creativity can't really be judged merely by how much time is spent directly producing it. Time that appears "wasted" is actually spent collecting thoughts and ideas, mulling them over, reconsidering, and finally deciding on implementation. A writer working on a novel might only write one or two pages a day, but the time he spends walking around the park is just as critical to the creative process as the time he spends on his keyboard.

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