Thursday, November 30, 2006

The school hols are now in full swing. It's also the time we hear horrible rumours of this college or that college decreeing that their staff must put in a compulsory number of working hours every weekday on campus just so that they look like they are still earning their keep.

I personally do not know if such draconian measures are actually enforced, but regardless of the fact that we do not operate under a fixed timetable in this period, there still is work for us to undertake. The difference is, we have to discipline ourselves to perhaps a more flexible work schedule because our deadlines are still fixed.

We also have a choice, to work on campus or off. The staff in our college seem to choose to work on campus, strangely enough, but I rather think it's a choice we've made for ourselves and not something imposed and enforced upon us by some authority.

So why do we rank-and-file employees still report back to our workplace even during the ostensible holiday period? I think it's because our work environment allows and encourages cooperation amongst staff rather than competition between staff. There is time to relax and socialize amongst ourselves in between all the busy-ness that goes on during curriculum time.

In this environment, we've been conditioned to hang out with each other on an almost daily basis, and we miss that camaraderie when we go our separate ways during the hols. Just the possibility of having lunch company is enough incentive for us to drag our sorry butts back onto campus and put in a good few hours of focused, constructive work -- voluntarily.

How does an organization build up a motivated staff? No need for complicated and expensive "team-building" programmes, much less a "compulsory" clock in-out regime -- more like a recipe for building staff resentment. We do need meaningful tasks; clear, reasonable deadlines; an inclusive, non-threatening work environment; "white space" for socializing time; and common mealtime slots while the fixed timetable is in operation. And let the hols take care of themselves. See? We don't ask for much. :D

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