Is an hour’s work really an hour’s pay?



I had the pleasure of meeting Paul when I spoke at the Thriving Firm Conference in San Diego in October. I was impressed with what he is doing at his firm and asked him to write a guest post for our blog. Enjoy!

by Paul Foster, The Business Therapist

I had an ongoing debate with my accounting firm employees about productivity. They told me that they can consistently work hard and efficiently all day, every workday.

While that may be true if you have to be in the office all day, what if we changed the rules and I said, “If you get your work done by 1:00 p.m. you can go home for the rest of the day.” My hypothesis is that under this scenario, productivity per hour would increase!

I proved my hypothesis myself just prior to taking a vacation – the last day of work before my vacation was the most productive and efficient ever.

So why is every hour you are at work assumed to be same? Shouldn’t your hourly rate be higher for the day before your vacation to adjust for the productivity increase?

To take it to the extreme, why not implement a “ROW” or “Results Only Workplace”? Just take each file or project and tell the team that they will get paid a flat fee for the work rather than for the number of hours it takes to get it done. Then the team can take as long as they want to complete the work. Or they can get it done as fast as they can! How much do you want to bet the work gets done more quickly using this method than the traditional billable hour?

I was about to implement this strategy in my accounting firm before I sold it, but was afraid the purchasers would have an issue with this way of doing business. I would be curious to know if any “results only workplace” types of programs have been tried in other professional services firms? And if so, what has been the response?


Paul Foster, C.A. is the Founder and CEO of The Business Therapist®, an online resource, coach and advisor for personal and business growth. Using first-hand client knowledge from  30 years of experience, Paul Foster provides tools and resources for small business owners, business coaching, and entrepreneur mentoring.

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