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Killing time at work is an art some of us know so well

Bikram Vohra (Between the Lines)
Filed on November 17, 2019 | Last updated on November 17, 2019 at 09.35 pm

Preparing to get down to work after arrival and preparing to leave after the day are art forms in killing time and as much as another half an hour can be swept away in this preparation.

Those who master it really can work only half the time, goof off the rest and no one will notice.or so you fondly think. It is a corporate truth that ducking the desk during working hours or planning to plot to work out ways of not working is now an art form and there are people who are experts at it and have made a career getting out of doing anything. This is also a survival tactic since if you don't do much you don't make mistakes and are not therefore responsible for cleaning up the mess.

Far too many of us are only happy when we are miserable, we loathe our colleagues, we dislike our bosses, loyalty is a lack of option. We are constantly complaining in what makes for a massive loss of energy. If this energy was channeled positively and we found a comfort zone in our work we would be so much more productive.

You get a salary for 30 days for working six days a week generally and eight hours a day. So, let's take a day in the office, any day. Here is a breakdown of the way it probably goes if you are being fair in making this assessment.

Fact. Ladies spend at least 70 minutes of the eight hours in the powder room. Surveys have shown that to be true. Men take half that time but make up for it by loitering in corridors and have a quick talk. It is also a fact that men gossip more than women and are largely the carriers of office politics.

Smokers spend as much 90 minutes avoiding the work desk. As no smoking zones increase escape from the workload also rises. They now have to venture further away.

About 45 minutes per person are lost making mobile phone calls to people who have nothing to do with your work like friends, relatives, and sundry other folks. This includes texting. Extending semi-official phone calls from the switchboard with a little chat to the person on the other side also consumes a fair amount of time.

If you have access to the Net in your office you can exhaust the better part of an hour on the social network, chatting or catching up with the news in your native language websites. If you are adept enough and know how to keep the Excel sheet ready for camouflage you can keep other sites open right through the working day and quickly cover up the open site as a boss approaches.

Surveys show that gossip about the office exhausts another 30 minutes of a workday and 'flitting' (moving from desk to desk, cubicle to cubicle) can chew up several more minutes. Facebook probably competes closely with actual work in more liberal offices.

Then there is lunch. The hour has a nice elastic quality about it and can easily stretch top 80 minutes. Add to that the leisurely drinking of self-made or served tea and coffee and that ceremony can swallow another 20 minutes off the clock.

There is then the pleasure of preparation. Preparing to get down to work after arrival and preparing to leave after the day are art forms in killing time and as much as another half an hour can be swept away in this preparation.

Add late arrivals, dental appointments, headaches, a cold, 'have to leave early today' permissions and you shave off as much as six hours a week in this practiced dilly dallying.

And if you are smart you can always have visitors who will eat into your work time. Do the math yourself and you'll see how efficiently you can be inefficient. It is a scary thought that if one includes non-productive meetings into this schedule and you are knocking off more than half the day not doing your work.

Imagine for a brief moment if your salary was paid on a similar grid and cut according to equally self-indulgent reasons. How would you feel about that?

Just remember, big brother is watching.

-bikram@khaleejtimes.com


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