Discipline — One of the key reasons for our successful 5 years.

Are you an Entrepreneur? Aspiring to be one? Employee? Student? Just give it a read, you might find it useful.

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewing a candidate. She was working with a “startup” and all of a sudden they went broke and decided to shut down. It intrigued me, I ended up asking her about the previous employer. One of the many abysmal things they were doing caught my attention, and that was the “flexi work hours”. Here is a rough transcript of our conversation.

Me: So what time would you normally login?
Candidate: hmm, around 11:30.
M: Really? Interesting.
C: Yeah Visakh. There were many who would come in at 3 in the afternoon as well.
Me (to myself): No wonder they called it quits.

In the modern world with flexi work hours, self-direction, greater empowerment, funky coffee machines, cool sleeping pods, in-house Starbucks… I wonder where the concepts of discipline and punctuality stand. I am sure a lot of them might feel agitated reading this because it might not fall under their idea of “modern” working style. Still, let me put out my perspective.

Let me take you back to 2011, during my early days of entrepreneurship. I used to start my day at 7 AM and kept it easy for my team. They would usually walk in by 11:30 and close their day around 9:30 - 10 in the night. Their parents started asking “Which company is this? Why are they making you guys work so late?” And the worse thing was that even my team felt that way.

I sat down and observed. They walked in by 11:30 and switched on the system. Then it was time for the first tea/smoke break. Get back to the desk and read the emails; by then it’s time for lunch. I don’t have to tell you what it feels like after lunch; it’s like the old diesel engine’s cold start; it will take a while to fire up. And then it’s time for the 4 PM tea/smoke break. Here comes the call for delivery; what the f**k are we going to ship today? Pull up the socks at around 4:30 and start the real work. Obviously, you are bound to go back home late. Productivity also takes a beating due to the effort put in at counter productive hours.

It took me no time to make it a mandatory 9 AM start. Productivity shot up multifold, quality improved, pace of delivery increased, collaboration grew, everyone was happier. Those “extra” hours with less distractions and fresh energy also gave them a chance to do some creative thinking. And we still stick to the 9 AM start.

We did something very interesting to ensure the 9 AM start. People who came in after 9 were asked to pay a fine of Rs. 100/-. And if we (my co-founder and I) were late, we had to pay Rs. 500/-. We used to add it up at the end of the month, match it up from our end and contribute to some social cause. Let’s say the overall collection is 5k, we used to put another 5k from the company and contribute 10k to charity. Yes, our late comers made sure we sponsored a few kids’ education and lunch.

Try it out, its fun. And it works.

I know it’s already long; either you can continue reading or go back and continue whatever you were doing.

Let me put down some points on WHY you have to stay disciplined/punctual:

  • Disciplined employees are not only liked by their bosses but also their colleagues, they will become a source of inspiration for others.
  • They climb the ladder of success more quickly, as compared to individuals who attend office just for the sake of it.
  • Punctual employees seldom take leaves and are assets to the organisation.
  • If you start early, you can finish early. It is always better to leave on time and come back fresh and completely recharged the next day.
  • It shows that you respect your colleagues’ time.
  • People will start taking you seriously. A punctual person is more likely to be taken seriously, as compared to someone who is always late. Your colleagues know that when you say 9:00 AM, it’s 9:00 AM.
  • Discipline and punctuality will boost your confidence.
  • Believe me, individuals who are not punctual are often not reliable.

I request the founders also to stick to the basics; you are not doing any good to your people or to your organisation, by killing the decorum and having a relaxed culture. Let them come on time and go on time, and have a good work/life balance. This discipline will help your guys to work as a single unit to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Discipline is, in fact, the lifeline of an organization.

Trust me, being disciplined and punctual allows you to enjoy your work, and office never becomes a boring place. No one would respect you if you are not disciplined and punctual.

How would you feel if you want to meet someone urgently and if the other person is not in the office? What sort of productivity are we expecting here? What if there is an immediate customer call? You can’t have a delayed response in today’s business scenario where your client has access to unlimited alternatives, just at the click of a button.

Trust me, One day these early AMs will make you a legend.

Let me know your take. I would love to hear from you. Also, let me know if this article forced you to rethink your work hours. And I am open to hearing from you if you have had experiences that are contradictory to my opinions.

If you think your friends/network would find this useful, please share it with them — I’d really appreciate it.

BTW this is what we have built: www.appinessworld.com

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