Today, we’re continuing this week’s look at how the Ten Commandments apply in Corporate America.
You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
I’ve mentioned the parable of the talents before (Matt 25:14-30), and I’m likely to occasionally come back to it because it offers us a great deal of insight into how to steward our God-given gifts.
In the parable, a manager gives property to a number of servants and comes back after a period of time to assess how they’ve done stewarding those resources. I find this part of the story highly relevant for us because it relates to a key trend in today’s workplace – the movement back to task-based, rather than time-based, performance. For a variety of reasons – mobile technologies, the high cost of corporate real estate, and the workstyles of Generation Y – many employers are loosening up expectations of seeing employees in the workplace each day, and instead measure employees based on what they accomplish over specific project periods. Like the manager in the parable, the new workplace is less about being measured by how much time is spent together, and instead about being measured by the results of what we did with our time.
Personally, I experienced this shift about two years ago. I took a job that didn’t require me to sit at a desk 45 hours a week and at first I wasn’t sure exactly where I should work. Today, I find myself working a lot at the office during the normal workday, but also at many different times of the day and in many different places – company team spaces, my home, airport terminals, and even our local library.
The workplace of tomorrow will place much more accountability on us to steward our time effectively. In addition to the myriad of normal distractions, we’ve now got YouTube, Facebook, and blogging (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a blog) to distract us. I’ve found that it takes a great deal of discipline to stay focused and productive with this much autonomy.
In the parable, the manager comes back to find that one servant has buried the property (the “talent”) for fear of losing it while the manager was away. The other managers had invested the talents and received praise while this manager, while he didn’t spend or lose the talent, was referred to as “wicked” and “lazy.” Too harsh? Perhaps not. If our employers trust us enough to pay us each week for work that they assume is being done and we give them less than our best, then we’re not just slacking – we’re stealing.