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computer use at work, and how many hours do people really work?
So I was talking with an HR professional at my work and she was telling me stories about people who come to work and just goof off. Excessive computer /internet use (which they have spyware to track), playing around and even knitting. I read an article that said people actually only work some ridiculous amount of time like 4 hours a day. What do you all think?
I think it depends on the type of work. I spend far more time sitting around than I do working, but I have to available to respond to emergencies. My previous job, I worked about 7 hours out of an 8 hour day.
It really does depend on the type of profession. Since I work in healthcare I can be running around for a straight 12 hours and pray I get a restroom break, or if the patient census is down I could just be sitting around on standby for issues. Beyond the profession it also depends on the person and whether or not they are proactive with their work or reactive. This is just one of those questions that has a lot of what ifs.
I also think it has to do with the kind of work. As a substitute when I am the teacher I work my butt off, even if I am just walking around the class monitoring if the kids are doing their assigned work. When I work as a substitute aide I can sometimes sit just not doing much except help a few minutes here or there as needed. When I worked in a chemical lab a worked very hard with a certain amount of formulations due everyday. In these ways I think the less executive types do more work.

On the other hand I know some people who work in more executive type jobs that can look like they are not doing much but are actually thinking about solutions or networking. A lot of management type people may not put in 7-8 hours work at the office everyday, but they may work 12 hours some days between e-mails and phone calls/conferences that are made during off business hours or weekends.

Of course there are people who do go to work and spend more time on personal e-mail, social media or game sites, but I think these are the people that will stay in their dead end jobs.

Start by doing what is necessary: then do the possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible  St Francis of Assisi

Now a retired substitute Teacher in NY, & SC

AA Liberal Studies TESC '08
BA in Natural Science/Mathematics TESC Sept '10
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SuzanneD Wrote:So I was talking with an HR professional at my work and she was telling me stories about people who come to work and just goof off. Excessive computer /internet use (which they have spyware to track), playing around and even knitting. I read an article that said people actually only work some ridiculous amount of time like 4 hours a day. What do you all think?

In total, i probably work an hour and half a day. Unless flights have in flight emergencies, or someone flys into airspace they are not suppose to. Also part of this is that some one has to be working at all times of the day. If I was on day shift I would work closer to 5 hours proabably
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I have been on my current job for over a year and am amazed at the amount of time people spend socializing. Sometimes it's downright distracting!
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ladylearner Wrote:I have been on my current job for over a year and am amazed at the amount of time people spend socializing. Sometimes it's downright distracting!

I know people who take 8 hours to do x amount of work a day. I know people who can do the same x amount in 5 hours and then have 3 hours of downtime time that they use to their liking. Unless we know exactly what someone is doing, its difficult to judge if they are really goofing off or if management is doing a horrible job of delegating work.

I once worked in a place where we had two employees who thought it was their duty to tell the boss what everyone was doing and whether people were "pulling their weight". I would overhear him and he would usually say, thanks I'll handle it. One day, he got tired of it and just stood up and addressed everyone. He stated (paraphrasing as it was long ago): I need everyone to concentrate on their own work. I know what each and everyone is doing and have assigned work to their ability. The way I see it, how are you working when you are busy watching other people? If you have time to look up at what others are doing, then you are not working either. You're just busy watching others work.

Afterwards, no one approached him about it again and the two busy bodies were never MORE productive.
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Have you guys read 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris? He talks about Parkinson's Law and how people will swell a job to fit the time allocated, meaning if you have all day to do X and you have 5 hours (but in reality the job only takes an hour) most people will still only use that hour. Not work related, but school related, he talks about how when teachers assign a big paper and give extra time to do it (several weeks instead of a few days) students still spend the exact amount of time doing the paper- not more as the prof had hoped. It's interesting. I think this must help explain why people have any time at all to goof around at work, maybe they just don't have enough to do! (now in a kitchen? Forget it, there is no down time....ever......)

I googled Parkinson's Law and found this How to Use Parkinson's Law to Your Advantage
Cookderosa - I love 4 hour work week! Not that I have a 4 hour work week now but it taught me a lot about productivity and gave me insight into what I want out of life. What I've found as a hyper productive person is not that I swell the job to fit the hours but those above me do. Us do-bees are like crack for upper management.
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An old manager of mine was fond of saying, "Don't mistake activity for accomplishment." Prloko basically said this.

I also think it is utterly dependent on the job, the reward system, etc. Obviously someone who is spending hours per day on the clock playing games on Facebook or what-have-you can't honestly justify that. But there are hordes of people in the world that equate "working" with either "moving around a lot" or looking like they are stressed out or exhausted. That is simply a mistake to do so. I've been blue-collar for years and white-collar for years and there is plenty of disrespect and griping on both sides to go around, but a clichà blue-collar complaint is that they are "really" working but not getting paid well while the white-collar employees don't "really" work and get lots more money. But the simple fact is that, for instance, an employee that excels at wining-and-dining clients (especially potential clients) simply makes more profit for their company than a random manual laborer at that company does so they get compensated better. Utterly simple, but hordes of people still complain.

In general, anyone whose job mainly consists of thinking can look like they aren't "really" working, and the more rarefied and exemplary that thinker is the less anyone can pin them down on not working because they aren't in a place to judge them. And by definition they are rarer and you can't just get any old person to replace them if you lose them, so they are more valuable and are treated as such, much to the chagrin of some other employees. As a math major, I can honestly say that a professor who lays on his couch staring at the ceiling for months is truly working Wink ! (and if he's not the only people who can call him out on it are his peers because anyone else wouldn't understand his explanation of what he's been "doing" all this time)

I mentioned reward system above. I've worked at places where you hit your ceiling pretty quickly: no position to advance into and close to the maximum compensation you can expect, hitting that point in about 2 years time. At that point, most people quit, but all of the workers I knew who stayed years past that point only had one real goal: make their day as enjoyable as possible. There simply wasn't anything else to do at the place, so people honed their ability to do the 8 hours of work in 7, then 6, then 5, etc. Then the graybeards took it to another level: they still would only work the 5 hours in the 8 allotted, but they could evenly space it out so if anyone dropped in on them it looked like they were in the middle of working (which they technically were) but they could get much more done if they felt like it.
BA in Math & Psych double-major - Excelsior

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