Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So What Do You Really Do?

I've been thinking about the working world lately. More specifically, just exactly how busy are people at work? What percentage of the working day are they actually working?

As for me, I plead the 5th, but in trying to analyze this logically, here are some of my thoughts.

Some jobs require you to be active for your entire shift - like if you work at In-N-Out, or Porto's, or somewhere like that, you are constantly busy because the stream of customers never ends. Or if you are a phone support person for a place with crummy, bug-laden software then naturally you are going to be constantly busy. Even if your software isn't bug-laden but is in fact very good, odds are you will still be busy because your customers are crummy and bug-laden and can't figure out the simplest things on their own.

But other jobs seem to have their share of down-time. Banks, for example. I go to a bank and naturally tellers are only as busy as the number of customers that come in. Often that is pretty slim. But what about the people who sit at the desks? What exactly do they do when they aren't helping a customer? I might see them writing something but are they really working or just looking busy or writing personal stuff?

Even executive management; do they stay busy the entire day? If you are someone who calls the shots rather than the one who fills out papers, is there really stuff to do all day long?

Some people I know like to keep busy the whole time. When I worked in the student store at UCLA, our supervisor was this older woman named Grace who was constantly finding something to do. This consisted mainly of straightening clothes or straightening jewelry or dusting or straightening or dusting or straightening. Even if there was no dust and nothing to straighten. What's the point?

Then when I worked as an auditor we had a savings and loan client whose controller would come in around 10:00, read the newspaper, go to lunch around 11:00, come back and get his stuff and then go home, around 1:30. I also used to see government auditors, ones from the SEC, who would do pretty much the same thing.

The thing is, if there is work to be done, then you should be doing it. But how many jobs are out there in which there really is not enough work to occupy the entire day? Should you still try and keep busy anyway? If so, why? What exactly are you accomplishing?

I guess one thing that people in upper management do is attend meetings. Meetings here, meetings there.. but again, how much do most meetings really accomplish? Almost all of them are far too long and undisciplined.

Anyway, this is just something I've been mulling over. Just how efficient is the workforce? How many George Costanzas are out there?


kmiyake said...

1 in every 2 persons

Rickie Miyake said...

Probably.. and the other one is a Kramer.