Time is a construct.
9-5 workday is a construct.
Having to “earn” sick days is a construct.
That meetings should last 30 minutes or 60 minutes is a construct.
Only 48 hours for a weekend is a construct.
15 minute breaks 2x a day is a construct.
2 weeks PTO is a construct.
Deadlines are a construct.
So many things that seem mandatory in our workplaces are constructs, typically set by those with more power, and how we use and orientate to time is a big one.
Very few of us have a holistic understanding of time, thanks to capitalism. Capitalism created “clock-time” or monochronic time. We see time as a valuable commodity that should never be wasted. How many times have you started meetings and thought why are they wasting my time? I have things I could be doing at my desk.
I probably spent the majority of my time when I was with an organization thinking this, as I sat in yet another meeting that I saw as wasteful. The reality is I could have been using that time to build deeper relationships with my colleagues and team members.
We connect efficiency and productivity with career success. Management measures how we use our time at work through very few lenses – through length, intensity and output. These dimensions must be measured for capitalism to exist.
Many of us hide our personal lives (or that we even have personal lives) at work for fear of being seen as not devoted to the job 24/7. We answer emails and take conference calls in the middle of the night. We come to work ill.
But let me tell y’all, time is more than a resource to be managed.
It is more than a resource that demands a great ROI. It is the one thing that most of us look back on our lives and wish we had used differently.
What makes our careers successful and fulfilling are the relationships, not the productivity hacks.
Polychronic/relational orientation to time and productivity can create deeper equity in the workplace.
When we think about creating cultures based on the equity they require us to imagine new ways of thinking, feeling, and relating to work and each other.
We know we can do it because many organizations did it at the beginning of the pandemic, and I know we can do it again. We can create cultures where we value work time more than work product and round-the-clock availability.