White collars- How much is your work downtime?

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evblazer
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by evblazer » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:28 pm

We always used to joke about working half days. 12 hours days that is.
Now HR data with no real downtime although sometimes I get sidetracked and do some extra analysis or try and develop some fun tools to use to make reports and keep my coding skills up which almost always end up beneficial work wise. Many times I actually end up doing a lot of that coding after work or on weekends of course I don’t get paid for any of it and i certainly don’t talk about it because they’d complain I could use that time to do work they’d prefer on my personal time.

Dude2
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by Dude2 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:02 am

220volt wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:14 pm
Large work downtime is explained in the book Bull**it Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber and some other economists. Technology made certain jobs so efficient that 40-60% of the work is wasted on trivial activities, but we are still required to work 8 hours/day and be at work on time so that the company looks legit and presentable.
But it gets worse – A senior VP for example, cannot justify his job by having only a single director under him, so he hires another. That director then hires few managers to justify his own job. Managers hire more people than necessary to justify their own jobs and into regression we go. Before long, we have this huge field of warm bodies showing up for work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week spending 80% of their time on time fillers and made-up duties when the whole thing could be done efficiently with 20% of the staff in 4 hour time.
Some jobs are so pointless and unnecessary that even employees cannot justify its existence. This doesn’t apply to all jobs of course and the book goes into much more detail.
Thank you for this contribution to the thread. Here's a direct link Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

casun
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by casun » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:55 am

this thread is blowing my mind. 50%!? 90%!?

i’ll estimate my “downtime” at 3%.

dcabler
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by dcabler » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:37 am

mak1277 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:22 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:21 am
True at analyst to manager levels, once you get to director though, downtime drops to zero.
Not always...
Correct - director here and my downtime varies from 0% (crunch time) to close to 50% (steady state). And I'm not at all unhappy about it at this late point in my career.

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bottlecap
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:39 am

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:40 am
bottlecap wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 7:40 am
This thread is eye-opening. I never knew people got paid to do nothing, although clearly no one is 100% efficient.

Most people take some mental breaks during the day, including me. But in all the jobs I’ve had their was no real "downtime" built into the job, as in nothing to do. Either you had enough to do or you were supposed to spend your time seeking out more work. Sometimes there would be a lag between seeking work and actually getting it, but once you got it you had twice as much work as you could handle.

Makes me feel underpaid!

JT

Everybody's definition is different. If you've ever posted on this (or any) board at work, IMO you can not honestly say you have no down time (which pretty much eliminates every poster that responded saying they have no down time, except john_nh who has 7 posts in a year).
This is only true if you don’t have to account for your time and work between a set time every day. If you do, any time spend posting, going to the bathroom, eating, anything, has to be made up at another time.

JT

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market timer
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by market timer » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:47 am

My work style is rather unusual. I spend about 4 hours per day doing what most people would consider work--in meetings, giving presentations, whatever. The rest of my day is spent in a kind of internal dialogue or meditation. This can take place anywhere--on a treadmill, in a cafe, in a pool. I believe most work people do is pointless.

stoptothink
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:00 am

bottlecap wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:39 am
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:40 am
bottlecap wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 7:40 am
This thread is eye-opening. I never knew people got paid to do nothing, although clearly no one is 100% efficient.

Most people take some mental breaks during the day, including me. But in all the jobs I’ve had their was no real "downtime" built into the job, as in nothing to do. Either you had enough to do or you were supposed to spend your time seeking out more work. Sometimes there would be a lag between seeking work and actually getting it, but once you got it you had twice as much work as you could handle.

Makes me feel underpaid!

JT

Everybody's definition is different. If you've ever posted on this (or any) board at work, IMO you can not honestly say you have no down time (which pretty much eliminates every poster that responded saying they have no down time, except john_nh who has 7 posts in a year).
This is only true if you don’t have to account for your time and work between a set time every day. If you do, any time spend posting, going to the bathroom, eating, anything, has to be made up at another time.

JT
So, if you spend 20 minutes during the workday posting and make up for it by working 20 minutes longer than you had to (if you would have taken no breaks), you have no "down time"? Almost all salaried employees are in this situation (within reason, dependent on deadlines). IMO, because you can make up for it with work later doesn't mean you had no down time. Again, it comes down to your definition; I would bet that those posters suggesting they have none are no more busy than the rest of us, you are just looking at it differently.

amindu
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by amindu » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:54 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:17 am
Accountant here.
I estimate my work downtime by about 50-60%. It has been like that through my whole career (a lot of employers - 19 years so far) with few exceptions/days.
Is that normal? Or should I keep looking till I find an employer who can utilize more of my time?
Are you in public or industry? I would say for public that is probably right, however you make up for it during the traditional busy seasons. Also, if you are at the manager level a lot of time goes into business development, managing staff/scheduling, other non charge tasks. You are still working just not able to charge any time so your realization is impacted, but wouldn't necessarily call it downtime.

harrychan
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by harrychan » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:44 am

Very interesting thread.

In my previous company, I got a new role to complete a massive network migration. At that time, my "downtime" was just between 10% through -25% due to migrations happening across the globe. Once the migrations ended, I took on a director level job managing 100+ outsourced engineers from a non-technical manager who was a "do-er". She insisted everything went through her including approvals, meetings, information and such. It was extremely inefficient. I put in systems and processes where I empowered my managers to make decision and required account directors and project managers to put in escalations and expedites in a Sharepoint form I created. After 3 short months, I kid you not my in box decreased by 80% and my downtime increased to about 80%. I had a lot of early morning meetings and reviewing utilization dashboards. The rest of the day was spent coaching senior network engineers and being available on Skype for any urgent issues. Oh and I worked from home full time. I felt no guilt as my technical ability along with my leadership style enabled me to make the team much more efficient. This saved the company money as they didn't have to split up my role or hire any direct hire managers under me.

It was the perfect retirement job.

After a while, I figured I was too young to have a retirement job and got a job in healthcare IT. (You can read my previous post on details). My current downtime is about 25% but I can easily fill that time by doing training and organizing my email.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

JBTX
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by JBTX » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:11 pm

This is a revealing and a "it's not just me" thread. Right now in a relatively new job, I can stay just about as busy as I want to. It's only been that way about the last 2 months. But for most of the last 20+ years I'd say 30% minimum to 70% max (accounting and finance). On one contract-consulting gig I started out maybe 20% utilized. My friend who hired me was maybe 20% utilized. He hired me because the department VP had open boxes in his chart. Over time people would quit, and I'd take over their stuff and maybe after several rounds I was 50% billing 30-35 hours a week, but I could have billed a full 40 hrs and it would have been even less. Finally I took over one departing directors work and it went to 100%.

JBTX
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by JBTX » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:12 pm

jharkin wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:48 am
_Bacchus_ wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:10 pm
Dude2 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:59 pm
I hate to say it, but is this a generational issue? I come from the part of the US where the Puritans instilled a work ethic into us. Sorry if this sounds condescending. If I were working for a place that let me float around doing nothing for more than half the day, I'd go crazy.
IMO, definitely generational and definitely reads as condescending. Sounds like something a boomer would say, especially the reference to Puritans. Why would you assume that someone with downtime is "floating" around doing nothing?

If you're hired to do a job, and you do that job satisfactorily, what difference does it make if it takes you 10 hours a week to do it, or 60 hours a week?

Personally, I work in technology for a financial services company. If a standard work week is 40 hrs, I'll range any where from 5-30 hrs of work a week depending on what comes across my inbox and what projects are going on.
The difference is some of us cant stomach to finish the job in 10 hours and sit there doing nothing the rest of the week. I finish things early all the the time but when I do I let the colleagues who depend on my work know and work with my supervisor to find something new to do.

I suspect its a fundamental difference between the industry I am in (high tech/ software - if we dont move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the competition we die) and more schedule/contract/deadline based fields like accounting, finance. In the businesses I am in keeping the foot on the gas is basically expected of employees who want to advance. People who coast stay stuck in the same job (at best) or get managed out eventually....

Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:

1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment.

Rarely in corporate America is there an incentive for high utilization, unless utilization is directly measurable and directly tied to profitability. Thus the incentive in support staff functions is to overstaff. I've seen numerous times where staff management will be offered more work for department, but the response is "we are already at capacity". Admitting your staff has capacity may be seen as admitting inefficiency. Or there is always the fear of an eventual layoff, so department leaders hoard resources in anticipation.

There were times as a manager I would create productivity reports to see who in my staff had capacity. I'd run it and share it with others managers, and the response was never "thanks that is helpful". It was usually silence, or polite responses indicating all work is not the same so those reports don't accurately reflect efficiency. But then down the road there would be layoffs or changes and we would all absorb more work without a hitch.

smitcat
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by smitcat » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:46 pm

JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:12 pm
jharkin wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:48 am
_Bacchus_ wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:10 pm
Dude2 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:59 pm
I hate to say it, but is this a generational issue? I come from the part of the US where the Puritans instilled a work ethic into us. Sorry if this sounds condescending. If I were working for a place that let me float around doing nothing for more than half the day, I'd go crazy.
IMO, definitely generational and definitely reads as condescending. Sounds like something a boomer would say, especially the reference to Puritans. Why would you assume that someone with downtime is "floating" around doing nothing?

If you're hired to do a job, and you do that job satisfactorily, what difference does it make if it takes you 10 hours a week to do it, or 60 hours a week?

Personally, I work in technology for a financial services company. If a standard work week is 40 hrs, I'll range any where from 5-30 hrs of work a week depending on what comes across my inbox and what projects are going on.
The difference is some of us cant stomach to finish the job in 10 hours and sit there doing nothing the rest of the week. I finish things early all the the time but when I do I let the colleagues who depend on my work know and work with my supervisor to find something new to do.

I suspect its a fundamental difference between the industry I am in (high tech/ software - if we dont move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the competition we die) and more schedule/contract/deadline based fields like accounting, finance. In the businesses I am in keeping the foot on the gas is basically expected of employees who want to advance. People who coast stay stuck in the same job (at best) or get managed out eventually....

Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:

1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment.

Rarely in corporate America is there an incentive for high utilization, unless utilization is directly measurable and directly tied to profitability. Thus the incentive in support staff functions is to overstaff. I've seen numerous times where staff management will be offered more work for department, but the response is "we are already at capacity". Admitting your staff has capacity may be seen as admitting inefficiency. Or there is always the fear of an eventual layoff, so department leaders hoard resources in anticipation.

There were times as a manager I would create productivity reports to see who in my staff had capacity. I'd run it and share it with others managers, and the response was never "thanks that is helpful". It was usually silence, or polite responses indicating all work is not the same so those reports don't accurately reflect efficiency. But then down the road there would be layoffs or changes and we would all absorb more work without a hitch.

'Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:
1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment."

Sorry that this has been your experience and hope that you find a place and assignment where the results arid greatly superior to these.
They are out there.

jibantik
Posts: 221
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by jibantik » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm

I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.

smitcat
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by smitcat » Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:30 pm

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
There are folks that like to pursue goals and keep themselves generally near peak performance.

JBTX
Posts: 5708
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by JBTX » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:14 pm

smitcat wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:46 pm
JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:12 pm
jharkin wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:48 am
_Bacchus_ wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:10 pm
Dude2 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:59 pm
I hate to say it, but is this a generational issue? I come from the part of the US where the Puritans instilled a work ethic into us. Sorry if this sounds condescending. If I were working for a place that let me float around doing nothing for more than half the day, I'd go crazy.
IMO, definitely generational and definitely reads as condescending. Sounds like something a boomer would say, especially the reference to Puritans. Why would you assume that someone with downtime is "floating" around doing nothing?

If you're hired to do a job, and you do that job satisfactorily, what difference does it make if it takes you 10 hours a week to do it, or 60 hours a week?

Personally, I work in technology for a financial services company. If a standard work week is 40 hrs, I'll range any where from 5-30 hrs of work a week depending on what comes across my inbox and what projects are going on.
The difference is some of us cant stomach to finish the job in 10 hours and sit there doing nothing the rest of the week. I finish things early all the the time but when I do I let the colleagues who depend on my work know and work with my supervisor to find something new to do.

I suspect its a fundamental difference between the industry I am in (high tech/ software - if we dont move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the competition we die) and more schedule/contract/deadline based fields like accounting, finance. In the businesses I am in keeping the foot on the gas is basically expected of employees who want to advance. People who coast stay stuck in the same job (at best) or get managed out eventually....

Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:

1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment.

Rarely in corporate America is there an incentive for high utilization, unless utilization is directly measurable and directly tied to profitability. Thus the incentive in support staff functions is to overstaff. I've seen numerous times where staff management will be offered more work for department, but the response is "we are already at capacity". Admitting your staff has capacity may be seen as admitting inefficiency. Or there is always the fear of an eventual layoff, so department leaders hoard resources in anticipation.

There were times as a manager I would create productivity reports to see who in my staff had capacity. I'd run it and share it with others managers, and the response was never "thanks that is helpful". It was usually silence, or polite responses indicating all work is not the same so those reports don't accurately reflect efficiency. But then down the road there would be layoffs or changes and we would all absorb more work without a hitch.

'Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:
1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment."

Sorry that this has been your experience and hope that you find a place and assignment where the results arid greatly superior to these.
They are out there.
For the most part, my current job doesn't exhibit these characteristics. I think they are less likely in smaller companies.

My comments were not meant to be complaints. Just observations. Based upon this thread these characteristics are more common than even I thought.

TN_Boy
Posts: 1356
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:17 pm

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
Not working is cool. But if I'm getting paid, I want to feel like I'm deserving that pay.

Also, doing good work, learning more skills, getting pay raises, all are good things.

TN_Boy
Posts: 1356
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:22 pm

JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:14 pm
smitcat wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:46 pm
JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:12 pm
jharkin wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:48 am
_Bacchus_ wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:10 pm


IMO, definitely generational and definitely reads as condescending. Sounds like something a boomer would say, especially the reference to Puritans. Why would you assume that someone with downtime is "floating" around doing nothing?

If you're hired to do a job, and you do that job satisfactorily, what difference does it make if it takes you 10 hours a week to do it, or 60 hours a week?

Personally, I work in technology for a financial services company. If a standard work week is 40 hrs, I'll range any where from 5-30 hrs of work a week depending on what comes across my inbox and what projects are going on.
The difference is some of us cant stomach to finish the job in 10 hours and sit there doing nothing the rest of the week. I finish things early all the the time but when I do I let the colleagues who depend on my work know and work with my supervisor to find something new to do.

I suspect its a fundamental difference between the industry I am in (high tech/ software - if we dont move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the competition we die) and more schedule/contract/deadline based fields like accounting, finance. In the businesses I am in keeping the foot on the gas is basically expected of employees who want to advance. People who coast stay stuck in the same job (at best) or get managed out eventually....

Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:

1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment.

Rarely in corporate America is there an incentive for high utilization, unless utilization is directly measurable and directly tied to profitability. Thus the incentive in support staff functions is to overstaff. I've seen numerous times where staff management will be offered more work for department, but the response is "we are already at capacity". Admitting your staff has capacity may be seen as admitting inefficiency. Or there is always the fear of an eventual layoff, so department leaders hoard resources in anticipation.

There were times as a manager I would create productivity reports to see who in my staff had capacity. I'd run it and share it with others managers, and the response was never "thanks that is helpful". It was usually silence, or polite responses indicating all work is not the same so those reports don't accurately reflect efficiency. But then down the road there would be layoffs or changes and we would all absorb more work without a hitch.

'Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:
1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment."

Sorry that this has been your experience and hope that you find a place and assignment where the results arid greatly superior to these.
They are out there.
For the most part, my current job doesn't exhibit these characteristics. I think they are less likely in smaller companies.

My comments were not meant to be complaints. Just observations. Based upon this thread these characteristics are more common than even I thought.
I have to say, I must have been luckier than I realized in my choice of companies. Sure dumb things happened. Upper management made mistakes. People got rewarded that maybe shouldn't have.

But I've sure had much better managers, co-workers and things to do in all my jobs than a lot of the people posting in this thread ....

HEDGEFUNDIE
Posts: 3973
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:06 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:38 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:22 pm
I have to say, I must have been luckier than I realized in my choice of companies. Sure dumb things happened. Upper management made mistakes. People got rewarded that maybe shouldn't have.

But I've sure had much better managers, co-workers and things to do in all my jobs than a lot of the people posting in this thread ....
People happy with their jobs tend not to post about it.

tim1999
Posts: 3635
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by tim1999 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:50 pm

220volt wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:14 pm
Large work downtime is explained in the book Bull**it Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber and some other economists. Technology made certain jobs so efficient that 40-60% of the work is wasted on trivial activities, but we are still required to work 8 hours/day and be at work on time so that the company looks legit and presentable.
I definitely find this true in my profession. Technology has allowed my work to be accomplished in half or less of the time it took 30 years ago. One particular task that now takes me 45 minutes to do from a chair in my office (which could easily be a chair in my home if my employer weren't stuck in 1989), back then would probably take 5-6 hours and involve a car ride to another location across town. And, instead of typing up the results myself as I go along as part of that 30 minutes, my 1989 counterpart would hand his written notes to the department secretary to be typed up.

The volume of work is the same, it just takes much less time to do now.

Yet, for some reason, if I finish this work in 4 hours instead of 8 hours like my 1989 counterpart, despite being a salaried professional I am required to sit in a chair surfing the internet for the remaining 4 hours instead of getting that time back in my life and going home to do something I enjoy.

I do have co-workers who intentionally overcomplicate every little task such that what takes me 4 hours takes them 7-8.
Last edited by tim1999 on Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jibantik
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:05 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by jibantik » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:51 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:17 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
Not working is cool. But if I'm getting paid, I want to feel like I'm deserving that pay.

Also, doing good work, learning more skills, getting pay raises, all are good things.
Just because you can finish your work and still have downtime doesn't mean it's bad work. In which case, if everyone is happy, you will still get normal pay raises and what not.

Working for the sake for being busy is dumb.

Plus, you can also learn skills in your downtime at work.

TN_Boy
Posts: 1356
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:01 pm

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:51 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:17 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
Not working is cool. But if I'm getting paid, I want to feel like I'm deserving that pay.

Also, doing good work, learning more skills, getting pay raises, all are good things.
Just because you can finish your work and still have downtime doesn't mean it's bad work. In which case, if everyone is happy, you will still get normal pay raises and what not.

Working for the sake for being busy is dumb.

Plus, you can also learn skills in your downtime at work.
? Learning new skills in downtime != downtime. I'm doing something useful learning new skills.

I was reacting to "Just chill and browse the internet." I mean, sure I've done that. But if I'm doing that a lot, I think something is wrong with me or my work environment.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by knightrider » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:44 pm

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:51 pm

Working for the sake for being busy is dumb.
I wonder if there are any books about the psychology of these type-A go-getters. As others alluded to, it's in their personality to always be achieving some goal on paper..

A co-worker of mine recently announced he is going to be doing a Masters in computer science. But we've chatted about IT before and he has never shown any interest in learning anything in depth. Furthermore, for the work he does he can learn all he needs from a few weeks of online tutorials. I think he's just doing it to add to his list of accomplishments.. Kind of like running the marathon. Or as a Japanese proverb says, "A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, a fool does it twice."

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by 220volt » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 pm

tim1999 wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:50 pm
220volt wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:14 pm
Large work downtime is explained in the book Bull**it Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber and some other economists. Technology made certain jobs so efficient that 40-60% of the work is wasted on trivial activities, but we are still required to work 8 hours/day and be at work on time so that the company looks legit and presentable.
I definitely find this true in my profession. Technology has allowed my work to be accomplished in half or less of the time it took 30 years ago. One particular task that now takes me 45 minutes to do from a chair in my office (which could easily be a chair in my home if my employer weren't stuck in 1989), back then would probably take 5-6 hours and involve a car ride to another location across town. And, instead of typing up the results myself as I go along as part of that 30 minutes, my 1989 counterpart would hand his written notes to the department secretary to be typed up.

The volume of work is the same, it just takes much less time to do now.

Yet, for some reason, if I finish this work in 4 hours instead of 8 hours like my 1989 counterpart, despite being a salaried professional I am required to sit in a chair surfing the internet for the remaining 4 hours instead of getting that time back in my life and going home to do something I enjoy.

I do have co-workers who intentionally overcomplicate every little task such that what takes me 4 hours takes them 7-8.
Yep. The book talks about exactly what you and many of us experience - For example, how companies have to have a receptionist (a pointless job) in order to look like a real company. They deploy an army of people working 8+ hours just to look presentable and trustworthy. A job that could be done with 20% of staff in half of the time. They constantly come up with trivial mundane tasks to keep workers occupied that in turn justifies their own jobs,
They pay an excessive amount of money for infrastructure, equipment, parking, taxes, ungodly utility bills just so they can have workers assembled in one place instead of letting them work remotely more efficiently at fraction of the cost. Not to mention the benefits of less fuel consumption, fewer traffic congestions and less risk of accidents. It's all marketing BS.
"If I had only followed the advice of financial analysts in 2008, I'd have a million dollars today, provided I started with a hundred million dollars" - Jon Stewart

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by jibantik » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:43 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:01 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:51 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:17 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
Not working is cool. But if I'm getting paid, I want to feel like I'm deserving that pay.

Also, doing good work, learning more skills, getting pay raises, all are good things.
Just because you can finish your work and still have downtime doesn't mean it's bad work. In which case, if everyone is happy, you will still get normal pay raises and what not.

Working for the sake for being busy is dumb.

Plus, you can also learn skills in your downtime at work.
? Learning new skills in downtime != downtime. I'm doing something useful learning new skills.

I was reacting to "Just chill and browse the internet." I mean, sure I've done that. But if I'm doing that a lot, I think something is wrong with me or my work environment.
I guess someone should have defined how we are using the term downtime. I was referring to the extra time you have at work outside of your work required activities. Basically the length of the workday minus the time you spend actually needing to work on things for your job.

In that regard, certainly you could spend your work downtime in learning skills that may or may not be work related.

I don't see having a lot of downtime as something wrong. I see it as a benefit, but unfortunately I don't have as much time as some people on here. Maybe I can work up to it though :mrgreen:

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by Starfish » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:33 am

When I am going around my employees desks - I manage several people - some of them are sleeping (it's pretty common after lunch, provided by the company) some of them are watching youtube (not music, I mean "real" videos) some are reading something on internet or messaging with 7 friends at once, some play videogames on the phone (with the vertical phone in a cradle next to the keyboard).
I don't mind, my boss doesn't mind either when he sees them. It's normal. They are not paid on downtime or lack of, they are paid on outcome.
People also spend around 1h at lunch, eating and taking walks. We have a gym, it's for downtime. We have ping pong tables. The company brings beer and wine some Fridays.
Puritans did not make to California apparently. Or to Germany which is the kind of country where everybody breaks through the door at 4:59 or whatever. Or France with their 35h week mandated by law. Can't say the results are horrible.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by smitcat » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:53 am

JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:14 pm
smitcat wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:46 pm
JBTX wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:12 pm
jharkin wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:48 am
_Bacchus_ wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:10 pm


IMO, definitely generational and definitely reads as condescending. Sounds like something a boomer would say, especially the reference to Puritans. Why would you assume that someone with downtime is "floating" around doing nothing?

If you're hired to do a job, and you do that job satisfactorily, what difference does it make if it takes you 10 hours a week to do it, or 60 hours a week?

Personally, I work in technology for a financial services company. If a standard work week is 40 hrs, I'll range any where from 5-30 hrs of work a week depending on what comes across my inbox and what projects are going on.
The difference is some of us cant stomach to finish the job in 10 hours and sit there doing nothing the rest of the week. I finish things early all the the time but when I do I let the colleagues who depend on my work know and work with my supervisor to find something new to do.

I suspect its a fundamental difference between the industry I am in (high tech/ software - if we dont move fast, innovate and stay ahead of the competition we die) and more schedule/contract/deadline based fields like accounting, finance. In the businesses I am in keeping the foot on the gas is basically expected of employees who want to advance. People who coast stay stuck in the same job (at best) or get managed out eventually....

Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:

1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment.

Rarely in corporate America is there an incentive for high utilization, unless utilization is directly measurable and directly tied to profitability. Thus the incentive in support staff functions is to overstaff. I've seen numerous times where staff management will be offered more work for department, but the response is "we are already at capacity". Admitting your staff has capacity may be seen as admitting inefficiency. Or there is always the fear of an eventual layoff, so department leaders hoard resources in anticipation.

There were times as a manager I would create productivity reports to see who in my staff had capacity. I'd run it and share it with others managers, and the response was never "thanks that is helpful". It was usually silence, or polite responses indicating all work is not the same so those reports don't accurately reflect efficiency. But then down the road there would be layoffs or changes and we would all absorb more work without a hitch.

'Letting boss/coworkers know you need more work can have many outcomes.:
1. Boss gives you more meaningful work. This outcome in my experience is very unlikely.
2. You have now presented boss with a problem he/she has to solve.
3. Coworkers tend to cling to their own work. Offers to help are usually fruitless. They themselves may not have enough to do, or feel that giving up work reflects negatively on them.
4. Boss actually gives you work. The work takes maybe 3 hours and the task is complete.
5. Boss struggles to find you work, so ends up creating an absolutely awful assignment."

Sorry that this has been your experience and hope that you find a place and assignment where the results arid greatly superior to these.
They are out there.
For the most part, my current job doesn't exhibit these characteristics. I think they are less likely in smaller companies.

My comments were not meant to be complaints. Just observations. Based upon this thread these characteristics are more common than even I thought.
"Based upon this thread these characteristics are more common than even I thought."
Perhaps you are correct , not my experience or observation though.
Perhaps another product of a 12 year run in business - correctable with the next downturn.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by bottlecap » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:06 am

stoptothink wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:00 am
So, if you spend 20 minutes during the workday posting and make up for it by working 20 minutes longer than you had to (if you would have taken no breaks), you have no "down time"? Almost all salaried employees are in this situation (within reason, dependent on deadlines). IMO, because you can make up for it with work later doesn't mean you had no down time. Again, it comes down to your definition; I would bet that those posters suggesting they have none are no more busy than the rest of us, you are just looking at it differently.
I think I understand others' definition, which is when you are at work and have no work to do.

For you, downtime is the ability to take a break, even though you have to work late to make it up. That would seem to be "the ability to take a break during the day" and not "downtime."

JT

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by herpfinance » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:25 am

As a software developer, my downtime is pretty low since there's always something to do. Usually less than an hour a day, so probably in the 10-15% range.

If there's no meetings during a day, it's rarely very efficient to spend the whole day hacking away, so I add mental breaks. That's pretty much where the only downtime comes from.

Maybe I'm working too hard, but it just seems like there's always something to catch up on and never enough time.
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by onourway » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:45 am

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
I certainly don’t want zero down-time, but I’ve been in positions where I’m on the other side of the coin. Browsing the Internet is great in moderation. When it becomes your primary occupation it can actually become quite draining.

Everyone’s personality is different. I would hate having to be ‘on’ 100% of the time, especially if it meant interacting with clients or managing people. I want the flexibility to come and go as I please. But the best part of my job is the times when I’m 100% absorbed in an interesting project and I am thinking of nothing else and time just flies by.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by stoptothink » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:39 am

bottlecap wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:06 am
stoptothink wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:00 am
So, if you spend 20 minutes during the workday posting and make up for it by working 20 minutes longer than you had to (if you would have taken no breaks), you have no "down time"? Almost all salaried employees are in this situation (within reason, dependent on deadlines). IMO, because you can make up for it with work later doesn't mean you had no down time. Again, it comes down to your definition; I would bet that those posters suggesting they have none are no more busy than the rest of us, you are just looking at it differently.
I think I understand others' definition, which is when you are at work and have no work to do.

For you, downtime is the ability to take a break, even though you have to work late to make it up. That would seem to be "the ability to take a break during the day" and not "downtime."

JT

IMO it is pointless to make judgments about the work ethic or productivity of others or the efficiency of their work environment based upon their answer to this question. Only thing I have gathered from this thread is that we are all looking at this question from different perspectives.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by bottlecap » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:57 am

stoptothink wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:39 am
IMO it is pointless to make judgments about the work ethic or productivity of others or the efficiency of their work environment based upon their answer to this question. Only thing I have gathered from this thread is that we are all looking at this question from different perspectives.
It seems the question is, "How much time during your workday do you have nothing to do." It's straightforward and does not require judgment of work ethic, productivity, or even efficiency.

I thought the responses to the question were interesting.

JT

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by SQRT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:05 am

market timer wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:47 am
My work style is rather unusual. I spend about 4 hours per day doing what most people would consider work--in meetings, giving presentations, whatever. The rest of my day is spent in a kind of internal dialogue or meditation. This can take place anywhere--on a treadmill, in a cafe, in a pool. I believe most work people do is pointless.
Picked your post at random as it is representative of many in this thread. I’ve wondered about this for a while because I think this site might get more traffic during work hours. This suggests that many people post when they are at work? Further, the fact that a lot of people here seem not to enjoy their work? Voila, now we know what they do all day. :D

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:12 am

jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:43 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:01 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:51 pm
TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:17 pm
jibantik wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:00 pm
I am not surprised at the amounts of downtime listed here, but I am surprised that people want less downtime at work.... what? Why do you WANT to be busy at work 100% of the time? If you have no work to do, that is great. Just chill and browse the internet.
Not working is cool. But if I'm getting paid, I want to feel like I'm deserving that pay.

Also, doing good work, learning more skills, getting pay raises, all are good things.
Just because you can finish your work and still have downtime doesn't mean it's bad work. In which case, if everyone is happy, you will still get normal pay raises and what not.

Working for the sake for being busy is dumb.

Plus, you can also learn skills in your downtime at work.
? Learning new skills in downtime != downtime. I'm doing something useful learning new skills.

I was reacting to "Just chill and browse the internet." I mean, sure I've done that. But if I'm doing that a lot, I think something is wrong with me or my work environment.
I guess someone should have defined how we are using the term downtime. I was referring to the extra time you have at work outside of your work required activities. Basically the length of the workday minus the time you spend actually needing to work on things for your job.

In that regard, certainly you could spend your work downtime in learning skills that may or may not be work related.

I don't see having a lot of downtime as something wrong. I see it as a benefit, but unfortunately I don't have as much time as some people on here. Maybe I can work up to it though :mrgreen:
True, we all probably do not have the same definition of downtime.

For your definition, in my worklife across multiple companies (mostly megacorps in the tech industry), the downtime would have been small. There was always something that needed to be done. Not everything needed to be done *right then* of course. But if not today, then tomorrow or next week. I did try to intelligently prioritize any busywork low, hoping it would go away if I waited long enough! But that sort of timewasting was rarely a big issue in my positions.

The thought of a job where I could finish what I needed to do in (for example) 20 to 30 hours a week is truly foreign to me. It sounds awfully boring And I'm not one of those workaholics that is only happy when putting in 60+ hours a week.

Nor did I know many peers that had nothing to do for large chunks of time. People with nothing to do tended to be gone the next round of layoffs.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by stoptothink » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:15 am

bottlecap wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:57 am
stoptothink wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:39 am
IMO it is pointless to make judgments about the work ethic or productivity of others or the efficiency of their work environment based upon their answer to this question. Only thing I have gathered from this thread is that we are all looking at this question from different perspectives.
It seems the question is, "How much time during your workday do you have nothing to do." It's straightforward and does not require judgment of work ethic, productivity, or even efficiency.

I thought the responses to the question were interesting.

JT
:oops: Apparently you missed the many posts in this thread saying they are "blown away" - this is "revealing, their "eyes are opened", they are "shocked", that lack of work ethic or pride in work is a generational thing - that others work in an environment where they aren't required to be totally focused on work 100% of the time? There is a lot of "I walked uphill both ways, in the snow, without shoes" in this thread. And, I'm not accomplishing anything by continuing to point that out, so I'll stop.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by bottlecap » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:25 am

stoptothink wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:15 am
:oops: Apparently you missed the many posts in this thread saying they are "blown away" - this is "revealing, their "eyes are opened", they are "shocked", that lack of work ethic or pride in work is a generational thing - that others work in an environment where they aren't required to be totally focused on work 100% of the time? There is a lot of "I walked uphill both ways, in the snow, without shoes" in this thread. And, I'm not accomplishing anything by continuing to point that out, so I'll stop.
Thank you.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by knightrider » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:52 am

220volt wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 pm
For example, how companies have to have a receptionist (a pointless job) in order to look like a real company. They deploy an army of people working 8+ hours just to look presentable and trustworthy.
If this were the case then what is stopping some competitor from running a lean operation and selling the same product/service for 80% cheaper? I think it has to do with a lot of our jobs are run like cartels/monopolies. There are legal barriers to entry that prevent any joe schmoe from providing the same service. In IT it has more to do with trust though. Most of these highly paid tech workers in silicon valley could easily be replaced with $5/hour Russian and Indian programmers. But does anyone trust them?

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by 220volt » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:45 pm

knightrider wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:52 am
220volt wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 pm
For example, how companies have to have a receptionist (a pointless job) in order to look like a real company. They deploy an army of people working 8+ hours just to look presentable and trustworthy.
If this were the case then what is stopping some competitor from running a lean operation and selling the same product/service for 80% cheaper? I think it has to do with a lot of our jobs are run like cartels/monopolies. There are legal barriers to entry that prevent any joe schmoe from providing the same service. In IT it has more to do with trust though. Most of these highly paid tech workers in silicon valley could easily be replaced with $5/hour Russian and Indian programmers. But does anyone trust them?
Well, that's exactly it. There are companies running a lean operation at fraction of a cost, but they're fairly small and invisible. As soon as they become large, they fold up under the market pressure of having a structured and serious workforce. It compartmentalizes itself by forming a standard corporate hierarchy. Larger the company is, more BS jobs it creates. Google and Facebook used to be one of those lean companies at their infancy.
I do agree that there are a lot of legal barriers keeping large companies from running a very lean and efficient business.
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:38 pm

knightrider wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:52 am
220volt wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 pm
For example, how companies have to have a receptionist (a pointless job) in order to look like a real company. They deploy an army of people working 8+ hours just to look presentable and trustworthy.
If this were the case then what is stopping some competitor from running a lean operation and selling the same product/service for 80% cheaper? I think it has to do with a lot of our jobs are run like cartels/monopolies. There are legal barriers to entry that prevent any joe schmoe from providing the same service. In IT it has more to do with trust though. Most of these highly paid tech workers in silicon valley could easily be replaced with $5/hour Russian and Indian programmers. But does anyone trust them?
We are venturing far afield, but the notion that most of the software developers in silicon valley can be easily replaced with $5/hour Russian and Indian programmers is very very wrong. For many reasons (among other things the cost differential, at least for Indian programmers, while still substantial, is probably a lot less than you think.)

Note I did not say that some people could not be replaced. Some routinely are and a lot of good R&D is done in India.

(Background is megacorp tech companies with multiple R&D sites, including some in Asia)

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by TN_Boy » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:05 pm

220volt wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:45 pm
knightrider wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:52 am
220volt wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 pm
For example, how companies have to have a receptionist (a pointless job) in order to look like a real company. They deploy an army of people working 8+ hours just to look presentable and trustworthy.
If this were the case then what is stopping some competitor from running a lean operation and selling the same product/service for 80% cheaper? I think it has to do with a lot of our jobs are run like cartels/monopolies. There are legal barriers to entry that prevent any joe schmoe from providing the same service. In IT it has more to do with trust though. Most of these highly paid tech workers in silicon valley could easily be replaced with $5/hour Russian and Indian programmers. But does anyone trust them?
Well, that's exactly it. There are companies running a lean operation at fraction of a cost, but they're fairly small and invisible. As soon as they become large, they fold up under the market pressure of having a structured and serious workforce. It compartmentalizes itself by forming a standard corporate hierarchy. Larger the company is, more BS jobs it creates. Google and Facebook used to be one of those lean companies at their infancy.
I do agree that there are a lot of legal barriers keeping large companies from running a very lean and efficient business.
I have worked at companies ranging in size from 300k employees down to 80. I do not think legal barriers have anything to do with running a lean business, at least in the US.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by likegarden » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:19 pm

I believe in my 30 years at a very large US company I never had downtime. When it seemed I had nothing to do, I found something useful to do. As a mechanical and controls engineer with an MSME and MBA I always found problems to be solved and new ways to be created. There was always casual overtime.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by samsoes » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:27 am

Long periods of mind-numbing boredom have been the bane of my career. Feast or famine. Long periods of famine.

Imagine getting to the office, signing into your workstation, getting coffee, sitting down, and it's 8:10. And you have nothing else to do. Those days never end. It was even worse during the pre-internet days. I'd bring books - usually scifi novels - and read them from the pencil drawer of my desk.
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by Andyrunner » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:07 am

I'm actually glad to hear other people say there is a lot of down time in the white collar industry. I always feel that this is something not talked about among peers because no one wants to admit they aren't doing anything at times.

My first and second jobs in corporate finance, was hands down feast or famine. First week of the month it was rush to get things done for monthly entries, triple that effort during quarter ends. Rest of the month was sit there and do nothing (I knew people who watched movies, traded stocks, other stuff). Managers knew it but had no other duties to assign during the down periods. My current job, I feel like it is less cyclical, but also has its ups and downs. I also have a manager who will only assign projects to a couple of people due to favoritism and poor communication (we don't have one on ones).

I also find people tend to either do a lot of unnecessary tasks, inefficient at basic computer skills, refuse to admit they are overworked and let others help or are good at looking/acting busy. I personally hate being bored at work but I often am. I fearfully wonder if I'm doing something wrong when I take on more responsibility and after a few months question: That is it? I was suppose to alleviate workload from a co-worker and it is maybe 2-3 hours a week tops. I try to dig for work but I struggle to think of creating work.

Sometimes I wonder if the job is not really the work but basically just retaining the knowledge of how to do something, or be a subject matter expert in the task you own.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by willardx » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:09 pm

I just saw 'Office Space' again last night, lots of people here sound like upper-management material!

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by rich126 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:23 pm

I was just talking to a coworker about large companies, government jobs, etc. and how unproductive most of them are and it reminded me of this thread.

In reality I don't think large companies want highly productive people. They want average people who are easily interchangeable. Somewhat negatively referred to as FTE (full time equivalents). The large companies have so many processes, rules, restrictions in place that prevent highly skilled people from getting things done as quickly as they good.

Most don't allow the employee to choose their own computer (linux, apple, Microsoft, etc.). Instead they force an OS and various, often unproductive, tools on you to use. And if one employee screws up something, often a process is implemented to prevent that from happening again. This is implemented without considering the decrease in productively it causes. Instead that process should only be applied to employees that have proven they need it, but it is never done that way. If administrators and managers need Microsoft products, give it to them, but if engineers prefer Linux or Apple, give it to them. And IT should rarely dictate how stuff is done, their job is to work around the needs of the employees. Instead most companies have a few overworked IT people and outsource many other duties to a (largely) marginally skill work force.

Also in many companies there are no incentives to complete projects or tasks early. One place I worked for 8 years, I never missed a deadline, often was done early but never once got a cash award, stock options, etc. for being efficient. Instead my "extra" hours were rolled into the contract and absorbed by those employees incapable of getting things done on time (and I'm sure they are the type with a million excuses). I did get a promotion and some of the others eventually got laid off but geez there are a lot of bad engineers/CS/IA type folks out there.

So this is why I'm sitting here reading Bogleheads, travel blogs, news, etc. and still can complete my work in a few hours a day and be ahead of schedule. And also why I'll be looking elsewhere next year. I have zero interest in working more than 40 hrs a week but geez, at least give me something challenging, and reward me when I consistently excel. I think anyone who has ever worked in a environment with coworkers that are all hard working and very skilled, knows it makes everyone else work harder (to avoid being the weak link). But once a company proves it cannot figure out the productive workers from the unproductive, it becomes a "who cares" environment.

Probably my biggest disappointment in my career is not finding that great environment. (Well actually my biggest disappointment is not getting into computer security a decade early, that really gets me going. Kind of like my first digital design and assembly programming class in college and I knew I wanted to do that stuff.)

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BogleMelon
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by BogleMelon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:43 pm

rich126 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:23 pm
at least give me something challenging,
The lack of challenge is driving me crazy as well. When I have work, it is mostly copying and pasting between some file types! For that, I am trying to find another job as well. Not only the lack of the challenge is the problem, but also that my manager hates it when I bring a "new way" to do something he used to do it a certain way for a decade. Even when he realize he was doing it very inefficiently, he just prefers to keep it as is and kills my enthusiastic.
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by abuss368 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:50 pm

It fluctuates with the position and the time of each month. Harder to have downtime the higher up the corporate ladder one is.
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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by Starfish » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:28 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:50 pm
It fluctuates with the position and the time of each month. Harder to have downtime the higher up the corporate ladder one is.
What about meetings?
Meetings are downtime for me except the case when I work, answer emails etc (which is many times the case).

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by abuss368 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:46 pm

Starfish wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:28 pm
abuss368 wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:50 pm
It fluctuates with the position and the time of each month. Harder to have downtime the higher up the corporate ladder one is.
What about meetings?
Meetings are downtime for me except the case when I work, answer emails etc (which is many times the case).
How true. The older I get the more I appreciate and realize how worthless most meetings are.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by bubbadog » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:57 pm

Galaxy8 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:25 pm
Emergency physician here. I am 100% go for my entire 8 to 10 hour shift. I rarely eat and almost never get a bathroom break. Fortunately, I usually finish my coffee while it's still luke warm. And then I usually stay 1-2 hours late after my shift is over. So taking all that into account, my work downtime is about -10 to -20% (yea, negative).
Are you spending time after your shift completing your charts?

If so, I hope you are getting compensated for the time after your shift is over. You deserve to be.

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Re: White collars- How much is your work downtime?

Post by rich126 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:58 pm

I get the sense for contractors, especially those working with the government, there rarely is a reason to be efficient. For example:

1. If you can get someone to pay for 1,000 hrs of documentation work why do it in less time
2. If you can get someone to pay an engineering salary for work that can be done by a lower cost employee, say a tech writer, why do it?

I recall when I was a young engineer and met with a sales engineer he told me how proud he was when he was working elsewhere and told the boss he was already done his task. His boss got upset and said now he needs to find another task for him to do. I realize in other fields how strange this may sound but it’s largely a reality in the defense industry.

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