Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Work Ethic

I do something every day at work, something I've done since my first day; I keep details about all things related to hours worked. Mostly this stems from having to manage working 3 or more programs while still billing appropriately for each accurate to the one-half hour. I'll admit that I've also got a slight tendency toward obsessive compulsiveness for some things.

In either case, I decided to take a look back over the past three years to see how my behavior has changed as I've become more comfortable with my surroundings and settled into a personal groove. I should mention first that I work in a very relaxed environment: jeans and t-shirt, flex hours, 24-hour access to premises and so on. This is reflected in the type of patterns that emerge here. Certainly, if I worked at a typical 9-to-5 this exercise would be moot.

Here is what the overall picture looks like[1]:

The blue points represent the times I arrive at work and the red indicates when I leave. You can see a clear pattern - especially in the start times - that is moving away from that 8:30am time. I split the start times into two groups and added a linear fit[2] to bring this out. It follows from this that there should be some split at the top but as each day is not exactly 8 hours the relationship is obviously not 1:1.

Why do the sets diverge then? It made me chuckle when I saw it because I deal with the problem every day and tire of it the more I do. See, I've got a 1-hour commute in each direction. I'm also forced to travel a particularly busy stretch of highway headed into Philadelphia to get to work. When I first started the job I was eager to impress and dealt with traffic to do so. As I've established myself I've decided to either get in early enough to avoid any traffic or wait until it is all passed before heading out. Again, not really possible in the 9-to-5 setting. I don't see actually following the projection lines; the three years have been enough for me to gauge just when to leave. The pattern has probably plateaued by now.

Since I couldn't decipher it from the above image, I also wanted to known what my average output was for the company (and if it had changed as much as my commuting habits). Here is the result: total hours worked for the same time frame shown above.

Takeaway is that I put in, on average, 9 solid hours a day. More obvious is that there is no telling how I'm going to do that over any given period. My first impression was that the hours would be high on Monday decreasing slowly to Friday where the average would be lowest (I like half-day Fridays). There was no such trend, however. In fact, the only day that had any significant difference from the others was Wednesday. I pick my daughter up from school on Wednesday so regardless of what time I get in I leave between 2:30 and 3:30. This ultimately drives down the number of hours I work on Wednesdays over time.

Nothing particularly groundbreaking. While my opinion of the work I do has fluctuated over time I can see no evidence of that in my behavior (from this data, anyway). The traffic thing was a neat find but I was disappointed to not have had more interesting trends in the distribution of hours over the week.

Still, I got to have some fun playing with R and a bit of data.

[1] In all the data presented here I've removed extreme outliers such as a stint I had working 10:00pm to 4:00am. I intended to explore my general behavior so I took some liberties with the data used in doing so.

[2] I failed Prob/Stat the first time through. Literally. I believe there is some underlying assumption about normal distribution when fitting a line which possibly makes this inaccurate as the distribution of each set of points is slightly skewed.

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