I read and heard something about work when I was in school. I found that to be true now that I have started working. Maybe it’s because I have only been working for a month and have not taken all the responsibilities of my job yet. Maybe when I will complete the training and take more load my perspectives will change. Either way, I discussed it with my co-workers and they are agreed that this situation is more or less true in every firm.
What I discovered is that out of 8-hour work day, the actual number of hours that go towards production and constructive work is hardly half of it. Rest of the time is spent in chatting (online and offline), web browsing, pretending to be doing something, sleeping (yes, some people actually do that), and travelling (in case your job is to meet with your clients). Let’s take travelling out of the picture, because if you are going to meet a client then you are doing your job, unless you stop by to have a cup of coffee with someone.
Let me walk you through my typical day at work.
From 9 to 930 I sign up, turn on my ‘puter, check my email (even though I check it every morning before leaving for work), check out slashdot, cnn, metafilter, and various blogs that I read. In addition to that I say hi to other co-workers and make sure everything is ok with them. If my boss is around (which he usually is, one of the most punctual people at my place), I quickly start the applications that I have to work on and keep switching between those and the browser windows to look as if I am doing something important.
After 930 I actually start working. I complete the tasks assigned to me. Make the phone calls to arrange the meetings, discuss important issues with the boss and team mates, and go to client location and attend the meetings. As busy as it might sound, all of that collectively takes not more than three to four hours. Add that to lunch break, smoke break (I don’t smoke but I dont mind taking a smoke break with people who do smoke), chit chat break, procrastination break and you have made it to 5 pm and justified your salary for the day. Not to mention all that time wasted troubleshooting all the computers in the office (which is not even in my job description).
Another thing that I noticed is that whenever my boss assigns me something, I finish the task in no time. Seriously, it hardly takes me one hour to anything that he has given me. And then I feel awkward if I tell him I finished it. Then he would think I didn’t work hard enough and just tried to take the load off my shoulders so that I could waste my time. So I just pretend to be working on the task for another hour or two and then tell the boss about it. So far he’s been pretty happy with my work. Maybe I am just genius. But then again, maybe he has not assigned me heavy tasks yet. Maybe he’s just trying me out and letting me train myself. Maybe after he is sure I am able to handle large projects he will let me do the real work.
Do I actually enjoy working like that and wasting my time? No! I hate it. And I curse myself every day for not working hard enough. But I can’t even blame myself. Not for now, at least. Cuz I don’t have much work to do these days. I am anxious for the days when I will be at my seat from 9 to 5 doing actual work. Until then I’ll just keep chilling.
But I am not the only one in the office who works like that. The sales people waste their time too. The take 15 minutes to make a 3 minute phone call. Not only they talk too long, but they also take too much time between phone calls. Sure they have to do paper work and all, but c’mon, it never takes 30 minutes to document a 15 minute phone call (which should have taken 3 minutes at first place).
This one time I had to make a sales call because my boss wanted me to get a taste of it. It took me 3 minutes to make the call and 3 minutes to document it. I was glad that I did the right job and the person I spoke to was happy that I was to the point and did not waste his time talking about weather. My boss gave me that account to handle both sales and technical aspects of it. It will certainly keep my busy for a while.
Another reason the time is wasted at work is when you want to follow up with a client and you can’t get him on the phone, for any reason. This is the point when you are really stuck. You cannot make the next phone call because it depends on the previous phone call and you just don’t happen to have any other client on your list. So now you have every right and reason to waste your time here and there until you get the client on phone. But in perfect world, I would use that time in trying other potential clients.
I could go on and on talking about ways employees waste their time, intentionally or unintentionally. I used to think only coders and developers waste their time since its very hard to write code 9 to 5 (and it’s arguably ok for them if they wrote code only half the time). But I haven’t written a single line of code at work and look at me. And look at other sales people.
I wonder how it is at other places.