Hawthorne Effect

At work we are being asked to enter the amount of time we spend on certain activities into an online form. This is ostensibly so some people can get a handle on where people at my level (the bottom) can get better a sense of where we are putting our efforts. Yet, we are not supposed to go to any great effort to track what we do. (I think the assumption is we already know on what we spend our time.)

It makes me wonder though if anyone planning this anticipated the Hawthorne effect? By putting observers in factories, productivity improved. Nothing changed except people being worried about reprisals while anticipating the ramifications of the observers. This means the results are biased and non-reflective of what people actually will do. For this time tracking stuff, the observers are the bosses who have to review the data we record and approve it. Yes, self-reporting information is a horrible way to get at this information accurately, yet that is the method chosen. Combine self-reporting with not spending a lot of time tracking it accurately, I’m going to guess accurate data is not desired so much as anything more than a complete lack of data. Possibly completely wrong data is okay as long as there is something upon which to be able to make decisions.

So… Personally, I am trying out RescueTime to get a better sense of where I spend my time.