I think the serious question to ask here is So what?
In five hours per day he was delivering more quality code than a lot of developers would have delivered in a fully committed workday. But I have to now ask, how much more could we have accomplished?
Could we have hired fewer resources if he had been more focused? After all, Trevors salary wasnt based on five-hour work days.
If you are a manager, could this be happening on your team? According to this thread Being really competent" or just "looking busy" I wouldnt hold my breath. Here is a sampling from this thread:
I've been doing this successfully for the last two years and finally got sick of it. I'd rather be unemployed than keep on pretending to be busy. My recipe for success? The Internet. Just look busy while you read JoelOnSoftware, CodingHorror, Reddit, you name it.
Should a manager care? You betcha!
I believe it is critical to question project estimates and that a development team should be encouraged to excel while delivering their full potential to the company that is paying their salary.
And dont forget: if you work on outside work with company equipment on company time, your employer may lay claim to any intellectual property you develop.
Does this mean you have to play big brother and monitor every key stroke? Should a developer receive an electric shock every time they open up more than one chat window?
Of course not although someone suggested the shock therapy to me recently! Before the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Developers comes after me, I will state emphatically that it is unrealistic to expect developers to crank out code every minute of the day. This is part of the reason why the rule of thumb for a man-day is six hours and not eight.
Use common sense and gauge the work ethic of each team member. Some need more babysitting than others.
But Ill bet that in most cases if a manager increases their expectations, the team will fill the goofing off gap and rise to the challenge.
I must admit, looking back on it, my manager was right to give me a hard time. I may have won my fantasy football league that year, but Im sure my employer did not win in the end when it came to my productivity.
If you are a developer that is skating by, be careful how you are managing your time or you may find that you are skating on thin ice.
Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.