Step off, pal! I am working

Pardoxology pointed to survey results from salary.com in a post entitled "Are You Sinning Against Your Employer?" The salary.com article, excerpted below, asks...

"Are workers really expected to work 8 hours per day, non-stop? According to a Salary.com follow-up survey of Human Resource managers, companies assume that employees will waste 0.94 hours per day. They take this into account when they do their compensation planning. However, those managers privately suspect that employees waste 1.6 hours per day. In fact, employees admit to wasting 2.09 hours per day."
The incorrect assumption here is that all time not spent directly performing verifiably job related tasks is automatically time wasted; and the implied acceptable ceiling for such waste hovers at less than one hour per day. The insights founded on this assumption continue to pile up...
"The average yearly American salary is $39,795 per year - or $19.13 per hour. If the average worker wastes 1.15 hours more than employers suspect, per 8-hour work day, that adds up to $5,720 per year, per worker in wasted salary dollars. So with the American workforce 132 million (non-farm) employees strong, the total in lost salary dollars adds up to $759 billion per year."
In the New York Times yesterday, Lisa Belkin submitted her response. She writes...

"There is a point, of course, where distraction becomes blatant slacking off, but I would argue that some percentage of time wasted during work is actually a part of the work. I call it gel time, when a corner of your brain noodles with a problem while the rest of your brain checks the baseball scores or looks for replacement coffee mugs on eBay. In other words, gel time is what you have to do to make you ready to do what you need to do."
A cogent comment in the Paradoxology post begins...

"Every workplace efficiency study I've ever read says that a worker is only at his best for about four hours of an eight hour day. After four hours, the ability to concentrate on work drops precipitously unless someone is actively moving from place to place on that job. Most deskbound workers drop off a cliff after four hours."
It's worth reading the rest of what DLE has to say.

From personal experience back in my advertising days, and even more so since entering ministry, my most productive moments almost uniformly occur when I am doing something that probably would not be perceived as actual work: when I was in the middle of reading (maybe your blog, maybe a novel), writing (not a sermon--perhaps a blog entry or a letter), cooking a meal, or even doing 'nothing.' It is at those times that the insight into the problem the parishoner is having, the ideal question for that survey project that I was stuck on, the perfect sermon illustration simply presents itself.

Many of us work jobs that don't permit such inactivity, but as the survey shows almost every worker in every job finds ways to "waste" time. As Belkin says, at a certain point this becomes poor stewardship of your employer's time and resources. But maybe the dividing line is not as clear as one might think. Perhaps it isn't even stationary. It may move from day to day. I'll bet if we could measure it we would find the percentage of wasted time Belkin considers "actually part of the work" surprisingly large.

H/T's: Paradoxology. Lifehacker.

Jannotti tag: community

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