I just heard my wife, a corporate accountant, on a call with her team talking about people in the construction company she works for charging time to projects when they are non-productive (during this time of COVID-19 and working from home).
This is a similar situation to working in IT corporate consulting, where the consultants generally describe time back in head office between client projects as being on the bench. It’s a strange situation to be in – no fault of the employee but it holds a burden and shame many carry internally.
The great thing I heard my wife say was:
Let’s not use the word “non-productive”. Let’s use the word “non-recoverable“.
The words “on the bench” and “non productive” carry a negative connotation and place the focus (blame?) on the employee.
“Non-recoverable” or “non chargeable” on the other hand describe the situation just a well, better reflect it in business terms, and remove the negative inference on the employee.
It’s not like employees are ever without work to do (or things to learn).
The only difference between types of work is whether or not the business is directly charging a client for that slice of time.