Where and Why
- Standing outside for 15 minutes staring at phone while smoking: okay
- Standing outside for 15 minutes with hands in pocket staring at open sky: not okay
- Standing in hallway talking about mutually-favorite sports team with the boss for 15 minutes (outside of lunch time): okay
- Standing in hallway talking about something the boss doesn’t care about: not okay
What and Where
- Walking around the office for 15 minutes looking busy, but doing absolutely nothing: okay
- Walking to corner market or fast food place and back in 15 minutes (outside of lunch time): bad
- Sit in cubicle/desk for an hour doing absolutely nothing: okay
- Work from home, actually knocking out work: not okay
Most of this really boils down to MBO, or Management By Objective. In simplest terms: holding workers accountable to meeting clearly defined goals. It’s not a panacea. It means more work for the boss, and bosses don’t need more work. They want workers who manage themselves. Like a Roomba going after dust bunnies.
Business culture is an interesting animal. Many books have been written on it. TED talks have been done. Even movies have touched on this odd social aspect. Why is it we still let human emotion control so much of business activity when our brains “know” it’s utterly meaningless effort?
Case in point: Telecommute, aka Remote Access. You ask if you can work from home. The boss says “no!”. You ask why. They respond “because I want to see bodies in desks doing work”. That’s like equating mouths moving to politicians accomplishing something. The two are entirely unrelated.
For all the talk about valuing new perspectives on business, I see very little in action. Speeches and emails go out, telling of some profound new philosophy, or some epiphany from an inspiration lecture or course. But in the end, like gravity, we entropy back to wasting 30 minutes on last nights football game, only to turn and bitch at another worker for taking 5 minutes to walk around the building to stretch their legs.