Raising Spanish productivity by 40 percent

MADRID -- WorkMeter aims to inspire productivity quantitatively on often the biggest time sucker: the computer.
Written by Jennifer Riggins, Contributor

MADRID--WorkMeter believes: You can't manage it, if you can't measure it. Based out of the country stereotypically known for its lack of productivity, WorkMeter aims to make that stereotype obsolete. It claims that it can motivate employees toward a 30- to 40-percent increase in productivity.

WorkMeter monitors the time employees spend on various work-related applications, like databases, Microsoft Office, and email. It provides employees with detailed outlines of their work, after monitoring interaction within the work applications. It also provides management with a general overview of whole departments and workforces.

CEO and founder Joan Pons explains, "As soon as we realize how much time we spend in applications, we realize how to" better allocate the tasks. Pons says that, when employees know how they work, "they invest more hours in their jobs."

"This program guarantees productivity and allows more flexibility for workers," Pons says. He says, while a quarter of Americans now work from home, only 3-percent of the Spanish has that option. Encouraging employees to work from home works toward EU goals of creating "greener" office space, as it cuts back on energy consumption and commuter pollutants.

In Spain, a typical workday is nine to nine, factoring in, on average, a comparatively longer siesta, or lunch break, and a couple pauses for cafe.

Since WorkMeter metrics create "objectives and transparency," Pons says it builds trust between employees and promotes efficiency.

"There's no trust in the employees here (in Spain.) The boss is like the police," Pons says. "I think we work more hours because there's no trust between managers and employees." However, he also admits that the Spanish may be a little more social at work, leading to a greater decrease in overall output. Of course, 12-hour workdays would necessitate that work leads to greater social interaction.

Many companies now block Facebook and other sites. Though, with Spain having the highest popularity of smartphones in Europe, that probably doesn't affect use much. Pons doesn't think it's necessarily bad if employees sometimes use these social websites because, when trust is exhibited, they will be less likely to waste ample amounts of time on them.

For him, trust and flexibility are key ingredients to a recipe of productivity. Of course, some critics of the WorkMeter argue that it could actually be used to advocate the termination of employees. Companies in Spain usually try to avoid letting go employees because of the large cost to them in severance payments, however, the new Rajoy labor reform act decreases that cost greatly.

Pons assures the conclusions drawn from WorkMeter wouldn't be used against the employees, but rather the employees themselves can use it to advocate and prove their hard work. Management only sees a part, but the software's administrator decides who sees what. The manager can see how much time the employee invests into his job and overall how much the staff spends with each application, as well as the total average for the company.

Pons assures that WorkMeter only monitors activity within work-related applications downloaded on the computer, not Internet sites like Facebook.

He says it is the only product like it in the world, swearing it is "not like a spy."

With the highest unemployment in the EU leaving a quarter of the Spanish population jobless, companies aim at increasing productivity over increasing the workforce. Employee performance management software like WorkMeter can be a cheaper solution to raise profits and productivity.

Video: WorkMeter

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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