Shirking or working?
May 15, 2003 8:29 AM   Subscribe

The WSJ offers tips for slacking off at work. My own favorite: leave an old wallet on your desk next to your monitor. See ya in three hours!
posted by luser (36 comments total)

 
My favourite? Design the company website so that it uses the same colours as MeFi. ;)
posted by twine42 at 8:32 AM on May 15, 2003


Nice, twine....

About Skig Coghill, the guy that runs the trucking company... how boring for the people he's on vacation with. I understand that it's cool that he can do all this from remote locations, but man, you're on vacation. Enjoy it.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2003


Piles of paper everywhere; a half-empty coffee cup and a paper plate with a half-eaten doughnut next to the mousepad; a jacket on the back of the chair (as per the article). Lights on. Print out random Excel charts and pin them all over the wall. When exiting the building, carry a pile of papers in one hand, walk quickly, and wear a determined expression. In many ways these are versions of when I used to work construction many years ago; an early morning ritual was to grab a hand of dirt and rub it over work clothes to give the impression of labour already accomplished ...
posted by carter at 8:46 AM on May 15, 2003


Work for your Dad's company.

Trump card.
posted by vito90 at 8:58 AM on May 15, 2003


Of course, there's the classic management technique of avoiding work by taking credit for what other people have done.
posted by elgoose at 9:01 AM on May 15, 2003


"If everybody does that, the company goes bankrupt," says Stuart Gilman, director of the Ethics Resource Center in Washington."

ETHICS RESOURCE CENTRE?

This guy is King Slacker.
posted by Frasermoo at 9:02 AM on May 15, 2003


Ufez: good point. I just spent 4.5 weeks in NZ, and had a bit of trouble breaking away from work. Being able to vpn in and check up on things was too easy. Finally did break the habit after the first 4-5 days. Learned a good lesson though; the place didn't collapse in my absence, next time I go I'll not be worried as much.
posted by ehintz at 9:02 AM on May 15, 2003


i find an array of diet coke cans, one open file, pens and highlighters, open Word document, chair turned halfway away from the desk, and (for the ladies) an extra pair of shoes under the desk says to all, "This lawyer will be back in a moment." the trick is to be neat the rest of the time, so the slight disarray comes to symbolize "in." of course, you could just pad your time sheet...lawyers *never* do that! :P
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:08 AM on May 15, 2003


Ahhh...many an email has been sent using the "Do not deliver before" option in Outlook.

Another trick I used was to take a full screenshot of my Windows desktop, complete with important-looking application windows scattered about. I'd then set that as my desktop wallpaper. When I hit Ctrl+Alt+Del to lock my PC, the task bar, icons and windows would appear to still be there (they actually disappear, leaving only the wallpaper visible). Then I'd drag the "Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to Unlock" window off-screen and — voilà — looks like I just stepped out of the office for a sec. Meanwhile, I'm out hiking the afternoon away.

On preview: serafinapekkala's tips are very helpful, too.
posted by DakotaPaul at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2003


Lawyers' bills, unsurprisingly, are one of the most common areas of contention with clients.
Most complaints sound like one of the following:

My bill is too high, and it's not what we agreed to.
I'm not sure what we agreed to, but it wasn't this.
My bill isn't itemized. I have no idea what my lawyer claims do have done to earn it, and she won't discuss it with me.
My attorney did a terrible job, and I don't want to pay a big bill.
My attorney billed me top dollar for her time when I know a paralegal did most of the work.
My attorney padded his bill -- he billed me 30 minutes for every two-minute phone call, even when I called to protest earlier overbilling.
posted by matteo at 9:19 AM on May 15, 2003


Isn't the real question, "How does one surf Metafilter all day long without the boss finding out?"
posted by gramcracker at 9:36 AM on May 15, 2003


Isn't the real question, "How does one surf Metafilter all day long without the boss finding out?"

Tiny little personal proxy server running on one of the company's many intranet machines. Everytime you access a website, it makes it look as if you're only on the company intranet.

Works like a charm.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2003


o/t on legal bills, LOL matteo! i have to laugh because i *hated* billing my time by the nanosecond when i worked at a firm, and now that i work in-house i complain regularly about the astronomical bills we get from our outside counsel -- $550/hr for these dudes means them sending us a fax costs $50, plus the cost of the phone call! it's such a scam...of course, when we fire the big guns that means more work for me, but so be it. at least i work 9 to 5 and can wear pants to the office...and slack off on MeFi!
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2003


Position your desk so the screen isn't visible from the doorway - that's a no-brainer.

i find an array of diet coke cans, one open file, pens and highlighters, open Word document...

Hell, my desk always looks like that.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2003


Work for the government-no one there works anyway so there's no need to hide anything.
posted by aacheson at 10:36 AM on May 15, 2003


Work for the government-no one there works anyway so there's no need to hide anything.

Amen!
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2003


Or just walk away with perfect confidence that you have done your job, are doing your job, and will do your job well - so it's none of anyone's business if you choose to take extra time off. Works like a charm.
posted by widdershins at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2003


The crude, yet effective, life sized paper mache version of myself fools em' every time.
posted by sharksandwich at 11:09 AM on May 15, 2003


Isn't the real question, "How does one surf Metafilter all day long without the boss finding out?"

You might want to check out Ghostzilla. (previously mentioned here)
posted by sysinfo at 11:14 AM on May 15, 2003


Work at home.
posted by Joeforking at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2003


I'm sorry but those tip are just lame. Who doesn't know about call forwarding? Sure the timed email from outlook could be useful....if I wasn't using pine. Course - there's always cron. But "hacking" my AIM settings? Come one. It's a just a setting. You don't have to "hack" anything, and anyone that writes an article based on that clearly doesn't know what they're talking about.

Sounds to me like he was slacking on the job and someone snuck in and wrote the article for him.

Funny thing....all the effort people go through to look like they're working...if they spent it on just getting their jobs done, they wouldn't need it.
posted by jaded at 11:28 AM on May 15, 2003


On the reading MetaFilter all day, it's easy to get away with when your boss is the one who turned you on to the site!
posted by MediaMan at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2003


widdershins: Exactly. I find that I actually get time to "legitimately" slack by getting everything I need to do done on or ahead of schedule, making sure I'm visible & available to my teammates, and so on.

That way, when I need to take a couple of hours to decompress or I have to deal with a family emergency, I can just let my manager and teammates know what's going on and deal with it without the stress of hiding what I'm doing or lying to folks who respect me.

Why is it that open, simple honesty is somehow less preferable than manipulation, lying (it's not "fudging the truth", folks - it's lying), and misusing company resources?
posted by FormlessOne at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2003


Why is it that open, simple honesty is somehow less preferable than manipulation, lying (it's not "fudging the truth", folks - it's lying), and misusing company resources?

We all start out with the best of intentions but, after months or years of constantly being micro-managed and always getting the short end of the stick, my experience has been that doing the job faster and better is NOT what's really valued or rewarded.

Those who talk everything up into a huge drama seem to be the ones who win in the end. With the boss, anyway. And, in my experience, they're usually the ones moaning about "working late" when they're actually playing video games and watching movie previews on company time.

If you're doing an "excellent" job and your employer constantly cracks down on your personal freedoms at work and no longer trusts you despite your output, where's your motivation to continue to give 110%?

In my 12 years of experience, honesty and loyalty seem only to warrant being taken advantage of constantly. But, then, I'm pretty disillusioned at the moment and have worked for a string of idiots. My experience has been more like the movie "Office Space", and I bet the most "honest" guy in that movie was the one with the red stapler.
posted by sparky at 11:57 AM on May 15, 2003


Why is it that open, simple honesty is somehow less preferable

well, it worked for Peter Gibbons, but most of us unfortunately work with petty busybodies who live to play by the rules...at my office a guy complained about a woman who works from 8-4 for childcare reasons because she "leaves early all the time," when he spends ten minutes of every hour from 9-5 outside on a cigarette break. grrrrrr. honesty can get you nowhere in such an environment...not an excuse, just a crummy fact of work life.
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2003


If you're doing an "excellent" job and your employer constantly cracks down on your personal freedoms at work and no longer trusts you despite your output, where's your motivation to continue to give 110%?

That loud "Amen!" you just heard came from me. The boss I work for now is an A-1 crumb. He doesn't trust anyone (probably because he's such a big crook himself.) No matter how much I do, it's never enough. He actually mentioned to me a few times that the couch in the other office folds out into a bed, and there are sheets in the cabinet...in case I ever wanted to stay here overnight and get some real work done. (I'm not making this up.) So I stopped feeling guilty a long time ago for spending some company time on MeFi.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2003


I agree with Dr. Phil on this - I think we teach people how to treat us. There may be some who will bristle at this, but it has always been my experience that respecting yourself will give others the opportunity to do so as well.

Living in fear of your boss is no way to live. I should rephrase that - it is not a life I would choose. I would rather find another job - and even in this market, there will always be jobs for those who respect themselves enough to not put up with bullshit. Not that I'm an angel at work - I surf Metafilter etc every day - but my work will always be done first, and my bosses know it and leave me alone.
posted by widdershins at 12:36 PM on May 15, 2003


Why is it that open, simple honesty is somehow less preferable than manipulation, lying (it's not "fudging the truth", folks - it's lying), and misusing company resources?

hey, when in rome... goose, gander, management, worker.
government is full of petty little hitlers and people who have made it thier full time jobs to fuck with the honest and diligent. and under today's neo-capitalism, the viciousness found inside private sector companies has got to be approaching the norm found in government. if you still beleive that shit, well, wanna buy a bridge?
posted by quonsar at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2003


I always say I had a big lunch so I can easily explain away my 30 minute bathroom breaks.

What? Oh. You said slacking off, Chevy?

Never mind.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:25 PM on May 15, 2003


Finishing the work early is also not a good plan, because that just shows them they did not give you enough work in the first place.
posted by Iax at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2003


Haha. Anybody who has to do these things has an idiot for a manager.

A good manager shouldn't focus on your "in-hours" unless they happen to be necessary to do the job (example: Help Desk). Of course, if they're necessary, it'll only be a matter of a few hours before you're caught, so no worries.

Otherwise, a good manager should focus on results. Get project "X" completed before deadline "Y". If you continually do this, despite the fact you're never in the office, WHO CARES? Especially if you remain in contact.

If ever my company gets large enough to employ people, that's my plan for management. In fact, I think to be fair, I'll keep a graph of results public for people to check. That should motivate "slackers" to perform. :-)
posted by shepd at 2:34 PM on May 15, 2003


I don't like how they plug gotomypc.com, a paid service, when they say it's not even what Mr. Wiskus was using. He was probably using VNC, a free program, which they don't mention. It feels like all of the links in that article were little less than advertisements cleverly inserted in the text.
posted by Pharkas at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2003


Then there are those of us who don't have any means of time-management other than ruthless, ethics-be-damned slacking.

I'm a monkey in a call center, and I make calls all day long (market research). Daily call rates are tracked, and calls are randomly monitored ('for quality control purposes', which is actually a legit statement in this case). Slacking off is not a viable option if you wish to remain employed. The only time I have to myself (aside from the standard 2 breaks and a strictly-30-minute lunch) is that which I steal during the dialing period of each phone call. It takes our computers maybe 15 seconds to dial, and another 5-20 seconds to ring through to a human, a directory, or an answering machine.

Multiply that precious few seconds by 80-200 calls a day, and you can recoup some small amount of time and sanity. Not long enough to kick back, or read anything engaging, but long enough to pursue another stint of what I like to think of as Highly Interruptable Tasks(TM). For example, carving an entire upper-case font out of pencil erasers with an X-Acto knife. Or brushing up on yer Japanese calligraphy. Or programming Tetris clones on yer Palm IIIc. As long as it's subtle, quiet, and you can drop it as soon as a respondent answers the phone.

Slacking is for wusses.
posted by cortex at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2003


What jaded and Pharkas said.
posted by syzygy at 4:03 PM on May 15, 2003


Cortex - you sound like a perfect candidate for NetHack!
posted by Karmakaze at 6:25 AM on May 16, 2003


Oh, what I would give for Nethack capacity. We can't install a damned thing on our workstations -- can't even read off the floppy, or access network drives arbitrarily. And assuming I could, by means of hackery or bribery, get that glorious roguelike onto my box, it'd be suicide to play it -- our screens (well, our video buffers) are randomly monitored throughout the day.

I do have iLarn and iRogue on my IIIc, though. But RLs just don't translate well to PDAs.
posted by cortex at 3:43 PM on May 16, 2003


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