Nonproductive time has always been a problem; however, as labor costs continue to climb and we all fight for the few good people that are willing to work hard this issue continues to be a major concern.
If you see someone slacking, do you know that he has been slacking all day? Maybe he or she has been digging deep and is so far ahead of schedule that they are taking a well-deserved break. If you watch too close you stifle thought and lose the respect of your people. If you don't watch at all you lose money and the respect of your people.
Engage your team, get them to review the task have a conversation, “How many man hours will it take to tear off this roof?” “How many words a minute can you type?” Then discuss it, come to a consensus and then let them go. They are now working to the schedule they set, not you.
You will have happier teams and they will be more productive. If your engagement does not net you the results you need to make the budget you set work, then you need new people or new budgets.
Martin Stout is president of Go Roof Tune Up, Inc. See his full bio here.