Agile Work Schedule, Telecommuting, and Compensation

On the way back from Gimli to celebrate Canada Day, I heard an interesting discussion on the Charles Adler show on telecommuting and whether the current work day really allows for the best contributions from people. This was proposed for both work and school life and the question was asked if we worked from 7:30 AM through 1:00 PM would we accomplish more than the current schedule that works throughout the entire day breaking for lunch. It stated the old argument that the last one or two hours are usually the least efficient anyway.

So why not put in 5.5 solid hours and save the remaining two hours when minimal value is realized. Now obviously the value realized each hour would change for the different types of jobs, but this proposal may hold water for the types of jobs where you are expected to be creative throughout the day.

It also proposed that allowing people to work for home can greatly increase an individual’s productivity as well. It was mentioned that not only does this save on travel time, but also on time potentially wasted due to talking and interacting at work that isn’t directly related to the task at hand.

So that go me thinking about these two things and then that spurred a third idea. Let’s tackle them in order.


I love telecommuting. And the people on the radio loved it too. To a person they stated it made the individual person much more efficient. I think that is the key. In individual work and activities I think it can be a very effective tool. But we always need to remember that our goal isn’t about making just the individual more efficient, it has to also make the team more efficient. It was never asked, but I wish they would have asked if the individual’s telecommuting made the organization more efficient. Although you can use technology to help to counteract any issues that may be caused by remote team members, I have not heard of one person who preferred team members that were not co-located. I think telecommuting and remote teams have their place and can be used to provide individual flexibility and link specific expertise on projects, but we need to be careful that telecommuting always makes the projects better. (I know in my current project the remote team members absolutely make our project the best that it could be)

Work Schedule

This was an interesting one. I’m not sure a generalization can be made of which work schedule is the most efficient. I really think this depends on the individual and how they like to work as individuals. I think again we need to ensure that the work schedule allows for the most efficient team. Although one team member may view the 30 minutes of talking waste, it may have made the other 4 members of the team much more efficient.  We again need to ensure that we are focusing on making the team better when we discuss these options. I know I became a better Project Manager when I stopped planning my day according to the tasks I needed to complete and focused on the assistance I needed to provide to other team members to help them complete tasks.

Agile Compensation

With my thoughts structured nicely with the first two issues, I noticed some questions started to pop into my mind:

  • Although we propose to our client to focus on the project value delivered, many Software Development departments compensate on a combination of seniority, competencies, and ultimately hours.
  • I’m sure we have all been on projects where one or two people had much more output and value than other team members. How can we recognize those contributions?
  • How can we compensate team members for the true value they provide and not just the potential value? (seniority and competency)

My only thought was that we need to start moving compensation to a balanced compensation model that balances individual competencies with value delivered on a team. In this way we can start aligning how we compensate individuals with how we propose projects focus on the value being delivered. I know this is not an easy journey and I don’t have any easy solutions. I do think that being able to recognize individuals for their team value may provide some needed flexibility to compensate people fairly.

In the end for all three of these concepts it is all about the team and the value the team can provide. Amazing what thoughts creep into your mind when you are driving back from a day the beach with a van full of sleeping kids.


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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