The Art of Not Working at Work:

One Swedish bank clerk said he was only doing 15 minutes’ worth of work a day. Under these circumstances, feigned obedience and fake commitment become so central to working that a deviation from those acts can result in embarrassment for everyone. As she recalls: “One day, in the middle of a meeting on motivation, I dared to say that the only reason I came to work was to put food on the table. There were 15 seconds of absolute silence, and everyone seemed uncomfortable.

According to repeated surveys by, not having “enough work to do” is the most common reason for slacking off at work. The service sector offers new types of work in which periods of downtime are long and tougher to eliminate than on the assembly line: A florist watching over an empty flower shop, a logistics manager who did all his work between 2 and 3 p.m., and a bank clerk responsible for a not-so-popular insurance program are some examples of employees I talked with who never actively strived to work less.

I swear this is half the people who work in IT. I remember hearing a manager talking about an employee that watched nearly 20 hours of youtube video a week for over a six month period. When you factor other net time, it might about 75% of any given week doing non-work.

Then there are whole chunks of organizations that don’t do anything useful. An 11 person group that tracked data that was rarely ever requested because the same data was availably on the web for free much easier.

Why are there so many workers who don’t actually useful work?