What does productivity look like in a startup?

6th Mar 2017

Christina Chun, 1Scope CEO

The traditional mindset towards productivity has always been in terms of hours on the job. Members of the 1Scope team who’ve worked at major accounting firms and law firms have spoken about the dreaded ‘billable hour’ and breaking up the day into incremental 6 minute blocks.

At 1Scope, we use Toggl (www.toggl.com) to measure our time for accountability, but I would hate to think that time on the job was our measure of productivity. Having said that, taking a look at Toggl and email time stamps, it would not be understating the position to say that the average hours spent “in the office” for a 1Scope team member is at least 10 hours for 5 days a week (not even counting that most are in every Sunday). It’s not uncommon for the team to be working well into the night and into weekends. Fortunately, Alphabet Common's workspace above the Sydney CBD is our mothership 24/7 and allows us to hit hard. During the working day, the office is a flurry of activity and there’s a great energy that permeates throughout the shared space that seems to multiply 1Scope’s vivacity.

I’ll be honest and say that work-life balance is not high on the agenda at 1Scope right now. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of fun, but the team at 1Scope is passionate about making a difference and doing everything we can to make the greatest impact possible. I think the traditional work-life balance model is atypical for start-ups, and a better model may be one of seasonality. There will be a season when we can reap the fruits of our labour, but for now while the sun is shining, the team is united in pulling together. I don’t think any person starting a business, whether it’s a tech company, a restaurant or a consultancy would disagree.

But back to hours. We don’t measure output by hours, we measure by a simple equation, productivity = quality work product across the team. I think that’s a common vision with PublicisSapient. In the last fortnight, our development team have completed a full reskin of the website (user side), we’ve mapped and fine-tuned our company strategy for the next stage of growth, begun 3 research initiatives, revised our PR strategy and drafted our upcoming media release, run a hackathon with 180 Degrees Consulting for university students and professionals, prepared our values statement, and written this blog!

These are discrete achievements, and are constantly pushing the company forward. In that sense, work-life balance is not driving 1Scope right at this moment (though we do strongly encourage team members to take holidays, and to turn off their laptops and phones during that time). Rather, what is keeping people here is the ability to do and achieve something great, together.

Whether it’s ensuring, in the words of one of our developers “I just want to create the best product possible, and be proud of it”, or in the words of a relationship manager “I want to help companies and universities better assist the next generation”, I would like to think that the team is united in that it enjoys solving interesting problems every day, and produces tremendous output which has a direct impact on making the world a better place for Australian students. And then maybe, just maybe, we can all take a break in Hawaii sometime.