I was driving along the 401 highway the other week and, surprisingly, I was driving along a portion of the highway where it was actually possible to go the speed limit. Now perhaps because myself and other drivers were a bit excited that we were actually able to go faster than gridlock usually allows, most people were going slightly above the posted limit. That pace came to a screeching halt a few kilometers down the road when a new vehicle entered the fray—a vehicle with lights on its hood and an emblem on its door.
The appearance of the police cruiser and the subsequent adherence to the speeding limit by all of those in the cruiser’s vicinity made me think about the most effective means of getting compliance. It’s undeniable that the presence of that police cruiser was a very effective way to reduce everyone’s speed to the posted limit. Very effective until the police cruiser turned off the highway and everyone resumed their previous speed. If the only way to ensure drivers’ compliance to the posted speed limits is the presence of police, it’s easy to see that police resources would quickly get eaten up just patrolling the highways.
If drivers are constantly exceeding the speed limits and have no other motivation to slow down than the fear of getting a speeding ticket, drivers will always exceed the limits if they don’t see any police around. It got me thinking about the recent debate over Melissa Meyer’s controversial decision to ban remote working at Yahoo. While her intentions seem to be related to encouraging collaboration and sharing (both quite integral to the tech industry), many shifted the focus of this announcement to a debate about whether or not remote workers have the ability to be productive without someone watching over them.
If you feel the only way your staff are productive is when they have someone watching them and keeping them in line, then you will likely bear witness (or, more aptly, not bear witness) to those same employees becoming Mario Andretti when you have your back turned.