One of the things Rwanda intends to achieve with its Vision 2020 programme is a knowledge-based economy driven by the Information and Communication Technology.
A lot of investment has already gone in this direction with the laying of a fibre optic cable backbone covering the whole country and a business environment that has attracted various investors in the ICT sector.
However, even before we get to the year 2020, we already have people whose work is clearly knowledge based. In essence they are already in the knowledge-based status. Almost everyone working in an office that is furnished with a computer is technically working in a knowledge based environment.
But the interesting thing to note is that although most of these people are working in a knowledge based environment, they are not working smart as the environment allows.
In a knowledge based environment, production and not face should be the yardstick for performance.
Take this scenario for instance, someone works in an office and has a computer on his desk or even a laptop but work for such a person only starts when they reach their office. This is the face time approach and it is common in this country.
The boss requires people to report to work by 8am and not to leave before 5pm. During that whole time, the boss is pleased to see the employees buried into their keyboards punching away or scrolling through spreadsheets. In most cases, the moment the boss turns the other way then minimised windows like Facebook or movies are reopened.
In short, you have people showing up at work but not being productive. On the other hand, we can have people performing even without showing up in office. In this era of laptops, iPads and Smart phones and the availability of mobile internet one is able to take on tasks and work on them without necessarily showing up at work.
The mentality that office equals work is quickly becoming an obsolete one. If one has a computer with an internet connection then you can work from home always or do so then come to work later or when it is clearly necessary.
For example, a journalist armed with a laptop does not have to return to the newsroom after covering an event; they can just sit somewhere and still file the story. The point is that work is being done as opposed to workers being seen.
Where face time is given priority, it is common to find a book or electronic checking
system that is used to record the time people show up at work. Although this may seem a good idea, the better idea is to monitor performance not presence.
Instead of having workers showing up in the morning to Facebook and watch music on Youtube, give them assignments with deadlines to beat regardless of whether they are at the work premises or not.
As a manger your focus should be on results and not faces and these results can be achieved as long as one finds where to work from and it does not have to be at the company offices. We are now in the era of telephones and internet. It is easier to work and stay in touch without even being seen.