35h Billable Workweek


The 40-hour workweek originated in the 1920s, first introduced by Henry Ford. It was considered a pathbreaking decision and now has become the norm. This decision was made when it seemed like time and productivity were correlated proportionally till you hit the top of the bell curve. 

A century later, the nature of work and society has evolved. The nature of knowledge work is based on complex problem-solving, analyzing requirements, and dealing with unknowns. Another factor in the mix is the need to keep up with changes in technological frameworks and ways of working. With these factors in play, we must reassess our commitment to the 40-hour workweek.

What prompted the change at Axelerant?

At Axelerant, Global delivery team members are often encouraged to contribute to various non-project work such as org-wide engagement activities, career development, mentorship, recruitment, etc. When such non-project work saw low participation, the reason was cited as the expectation of working 40/hour weeks billable on projects. 

This expectation often leads team members to drop such non-project work in favor of project tasks. It often leads to disengagement, slow or no career development, and a lack of mentors. Sometimes, team members have expressed working more than 40 hours to take up non-project work. This creates an adverse impact both on the individuals themselves and Axelerant as an organization. 

The 35-hour billable workweek expectation is communicated to customers only in the case of Managed Staffing projects. Regarding support and managed projects, since Axelerant manages bandwidth, such is not expected to be discussed with the customers.

How can I adapt to this change?

The expectation is to work on projects for 35 hours per week, and the remaining 5 hours can be split up and utilized after aligning with internal and external stakeholders. You can choose any way from below or others to utilize the time for non-project activities:

  1. 7 hours of project work, 1 hour of non-project daily

  2. Four days per week on a project, one day on a non-project per week

  3. Planning 20 hours with x-hour slots per week across the month

Communicate proactively

  1. When you onboard to a project, work with the project manager & your team to determine what works best for you, the customer, and project commitments.

  2. Communicate and provide visibility on your way of working clearly to your project team and ensure you have buy-in from all relevant stakeholders - internal & external.

  3. When you are on your time away from the project work, provide a proactive heads-up through a notification or during your stand-up.

Block focus time slots on your Google calendar to indicate planned non-project time. 

If you have noticed a consistent increase in non-project time than planned or have less work, clearly call out to the project team and any relevant stakeholders.

Be flexible and seek clarity.

  1. Be flexible with your agreed way of working if client priorities change or evolve.

  2. Collaborate with project or career managers on a possible solution to bring things back on track. 

Plan ahead

  1. Proactively work with your career manager to plan your non-project activities, goals, and plans for ~20 monthly hours on Leapsome. Creating IDP goals in line with project needs is recommended to effectively utilize time without being constrained by ~20 hours per month.

  2. Maintain transparency of progress and time spent, possible challenges and blockers, log your progress on Leapsome, and review it with your career manager during check-ins.

  3. Be aware of your peers' non-project time and plan your meetings in a way that also works for them.

Track time spent

As billable time expectations have changed, we are enhancing our beach time tracking structure. The first step in this direction is to have clear categories of non-project activities. Often, there are questions about what can be pursued as part of non-project work; we hope to bring further clarity on this in the coming months as well.

The objective is to have relevant metrics in place to measure overall effectiveness. In the long term, these metrics will help enhance team members' experience and provide them with sufficient time to cater to their growth & aspirations without impacting client needs. 

  1. Use the Mavenlink project Axelerant/Beach [INTERNAL] to track your non-project activities.

    1. This project is open for all.

    2. Add yourself to the project by clicking Join Project.

  2. You can log time on any of the tasks below (indicative list). It is recommended to provide a clear description when logging time. 

    1. Career Development for Training, Learnings, Certification, Coaching, career manager 1-1s, and Mentoring calls (with Manager/peers).

    2. Knowledge Sharing/Contributions for Show & Tell, Hackathons, Blogs, Code/non-code contributions to Open Source/Axelerant handbook, Axelerant Offsites, and Community events.

    3. Onboarding & Engagement for Axelerant Onboarding, Onboarding buddy calls, Donut Buddy Calls, Webinar, Watercooler conversation/Happy hours, and Virtual meetups.

    4. Organizational Support & Other Activities for Housekeeping (Slack & Email), Recruitment, resolving #internal-support issues, general delivery operations activities such as DO ticket creation and collaboration (eg. issue with ML, Jira, Account/engagement etc), taking interviews, meetings/workshops related to taking interviews, decision making, improvements to interview tests, service area/function level initiatives such as creating guidelines, best practices, and templates about that function/domain., and supporting RFPs and pre-sales activities.

  3. In case you have questions, reach out to the DO service desk.