I did the audit by making every manager certify a list of employees. I found two employees that none claimed. One dude was well known within the plant and fixed any broken motors. No one had heard of the other guy. I convinced the payroll clerk to just stop paying the other person. He got pissed, and eventually tried to get a union rep, but the union decided not to rep him.
It turns out this "ghost employee" had collected over a million dollars in salary and OT, yet not worked in about a decade.
I asked about an award for the savings, but I was shot down because the union didn't want to let it out that they didn't rep a guy, and the company didn't want it known the ghost employee audits weren't actually being done.
In the end, I realized I was rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, and switched careers by becoming a programmer. Haven't looked back since.
They basically took inept employees that were too dumb to give real work to do (but not dumb enough to successfully terminate) and put them into a "Security" unit that allowed salaries to funded by some special source. As far as I could tell, their job was to assign password-reset permissions to "key users" in the field and do some sort of audit function. One of my interns automated their jobs in about 2 weeks when they all retired. They spent most of their time filing discrimination complaints about each other.
The Director was brilliant about it, he'd nominate them for awards for exceeding their KPIs or meeting project milestones, or some other nonsense, which allowed him to expand the group and put them in a separate room.
In the Fortune 500 space, I saw a similar behavior, but for a different purpose... the company did stack-ranking with 5-10% annual layoffs, and the Director-level people would scheme and fight to collect the most inept people possible. When it came time for their unit to be culled, these people would basically serve as fodder for the layoff. It was bizarre to watch.
Just about everyone else seemed like they were on a picnic.
I worked in a UFCW union retail shop for two years' time during high school and saw nothing of the sort. To the contrary, everyone worked their arses off and earned minimum wage while performing every single job role in the facility except management and bookkeeping. If no customers were nearby, you were expected to clean, straighten, and develop photos. If business was especially good, you had no time to straighten shelves and got dinged for the store's good fortune by management. Turnover was rampant. You had to pay dues and yet got next to nothing for them.
Like all things, your mileage may vary.
The last one we were forced to hire literally showed up with a laptop, said hello, and then sat down next to an electric outlet (which he didn't get union help to plug into!) and played video games all day. We ended up asking him to do exactly one thing on the final day of the show, and that was to carry a portable recorder over to where we were packing up all our gear. His response was an "Ehhh, yeah.. I don't think that's such a good idea." which prompted me to shout into the phone like a crazy person and go pick up the recorder myself.
It just blows my mind that some Unions have gotten to the point where, with no exaggeration, you will be fined if you plug something into an electric socket.
I also recall some union workers trying to move a full rack of equipment. This was a full height rack with some DEC Alphaservers and storage arrays. Rather than pull the systems, they tried to move the rack as a whole. The whole kit and kaboodle came crashing down.
The first time I tried to pronounce 'subpoena' while leafing through a series of Nixon-era political cartoons made my mom howl with laughter. Thanks, mom.
He leveraged that time for studies and subsequently got admission to a very prestigious B-School.
I say they are perfectly fit for a B-School, they know how to make more out of doing nothing than the guy who actually works.
On a side note, I worked at a major 1,50,000+ IT firm in Bangalore, India. While on bench I practically worked 18+ hrs/day while the project manager sitting next to me couldn't get work done with his employees who were billed. Mangers did this all the time, to be known as people who got more work done by lesser number of billed people.
Back in those days, it was common for some one to be officially on bench but yet would have to work for a project.
Story linked here: http://www.techcomedy.com/www.redswinglinestapler.com/histor...
AFAIR, Dilbert creator Scot Adams always made sure to keep Dilbert vague and a bit extreme. But people would write into him recognising some absurd part of a current strip and ask if he was really writing about Company X?
(To Mercy News eternal shame they seem to have taken these pages down during some redesign or rebranding or whatever...)
Sure it is, most people expect to be awarded a paycheck in return for doing their job.
But as to whether it is common to ask for an award over your paycheck, I think it is probably less common than it should be. IMO, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for a bonus if your actions result in a very direct, sizable and quantifiable gain or savings for the company above and beyond your normal value as an employee.
Executives at these larger companies (you generally have to be pretty large to have a 'ghost employee' problem) are constantly giving themselves raises or bonuses based on such events, so why (other than the shut-up-and-do-your-job-serf mentality too often enforced by the serfs themselves) should the non-exec be guilted into not asking for them?
I'd regularly get bonuses when the deal was closed.
However I really was a coder. I proposed a CD that we'd send to architects to showcase our work. It was a simple HTML interface that would pop up when they put the disc in. I did all of the coding, graphic design and packaging. Then mailed it to prospects and made it available to my team.
I did this without pre-negotiating any kind of extra payment even though it 'wasn't my job'. I just knew it would be incredibly useful to have a high-res portfolio.
I was very pleased when a Director gave me a £4.5k bonus for the work. Note that I completed all of the work on my salaried time.
Too many people box themselves into a 'not my job' mentality. I don't think a bonus should be expected by the OP as it was just doing his job. No harm in asking though!
I will point out that one of my co-workers was given an award for "safety" because he suggested windows be installed on every door so you can see if someone is coming... talk about rearranging deck chairs.
Don't tell your boss to solve your own problem. Solve it yourself. Get quotes, ask for the company amex, and fix the problem. Don't be the guy that discovers problems, be the guy that solves problems.
Maybe I'm a bit sarcastic, but I've seen this happen. I actually had to write down everything I did in blocks of 15 minutes. I even had a 15-minute block for writing down what I did. Which is very depressing in a meta kind of way...
There are better ways to handle such things though.
I was made redundant by a large, rather famous web-giant once, only they managed to screw it up (forgetting that firing employees in Europe, especially in a large group, is apparently somewhat harder than firing employees in the US). As a result, their intention of firing 120+ techies in our office in one day turned into a 4 month long arbitration period (exacerbated by the fact that we only found out we were all fired via a company-wide webcast, intended to only be broadcast to the surviving employees. They had actually forgotten to come tell us we were fired.)
Since we were all still technically employed during this arbitration period, we were vaguely expected to come to work. Since our managers were all fired as well, though, no one really bothered checking. Since they'd fired an entire department - an entire floor of one in a large, beautiful building - the floor was filled with 100+ geeks, all on a paycheck but with no expected output. Some simply didn't bother coming in, deciding instead 'to work from home.' Most, however, did come in - to play the Wii & foosball, work on their own projects, and idly look for new jobs. A few small startups came out of it. A few fun open-source projects.
My favourite aspect of it, though, was that my old manager made it his personal job in the remaining time to ensure that each and every one of the people he was responsible for had a new job waiting at the end of the 4 month period. He organised recruiting drives with local startups, got everyone's CVs, even rented a pub one evening so we could all catch up with a few local startups.
That large web-giant is hiring again apparently. Not many of my old colleagues are interested, it seems.
This was originally posted on the Something Awful forums in 2002 by user Moonshine. Here are links to the original threads.
Part 5: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=332...
Part 4: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=306...
Part 3: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=260...
Parts 2 and 1 are gone.
Recently the CTO has begun roaming the halls in his department. The CTO gets upset upon seeing my friend doing nothing. So he has to look busy all the time. He spends hours of his day typing nonsense into Word.
I told him he could be doing any number of things to improve his skills (which are lacking already). He is disillusioned with the corporate world at this point, his previous two jobs not being much better. Instead he applied and was accepted to the master's program this fall. My hopes for him are not high, but I don't know how to encourage him.
Management repeatedly got upset at me for billing so much to the general time code. I kept asking for work to do. Nobody gave me any work to do. So I kept billing my time to the general time code. And they kept getting upset at me for billing my time to the general time code.
What bothers me is that this was a large hospital. The amount of moneywasting I've seen is mindboggling. Nurses get laid off due to budget cuts, the quality of health care declines, but you still see this kind of shit happening.
Ahh, and I never wanted to become a cynic...
That pallet of iPads might as well be a pallet of stationary supplies.
I feel for him. Likely, he should try to escalate it higher up so that he gets moved to another project. But I understand his reluctance too, as they could decide he should not be working at the company at all.
And what bugs me as strange is that the CTO knows that he's doing nothing and still not doing anything about it.
EDIT: Alternatively he could have even created his own internal company project for work. Whether or not they liked enough to keep is another story but at the very least it shows he has initiative, creativity, and he can learn something from his work.
Unless your job has a lot of manual, physical labor; I really find it hard to see how anyone can get bored and do nothing at work especially if you can program.
1) to avoid boredom
2) to do something constructive
3) to learn
4) to show your value to the company
That will be a minor problem, especially if someone like that just decided to do a project from scratch.
Plus, what if the project got bug? How can you base something on shaky legal grounds?
At my last job, I kept a few programming books at my desk, and during slow periods would crack those open and do some self-learning. It was a consulting job though, so those moments were few and far between (as much as I hated having to fill out timecards, billable rates were a good approximation of employee productivity, if you weren't billable, you needed a really good excuse).
Instead of sitting there doing nothing, he applied and sharpened his skills in a way that was productive for someone. His first response should be, "Can the company take credit for my time on this open-source project?" and "If this internal project is useful, can I use these skills to make anything else easier in our department?"
The risk is that he'll violate the "don't rock the boat" principle that is the bedrock of CYA. The possible benefit is that if you have two employees, and one is creatively loafing while the other is creatively applying himself or herself, you know which one will offer long-term value (and be easier on a manager, who won't have to constantly nag the person to keep them from screwing off for 40 hours a week).
I'm sure others can provide better examples than I can.
Then, assign all copyright to your opensource work to the FSF, which is a 501c organization.
Not every company can afford to let employees "self-improve" on the latter level.
* make a list of technologies/skills that he would like to learn;
* make a list of technologies/skills needed in his job, and in his upcoming project;
* look for any conceivable overlap in those two lists, and spend his time doing that - justify it as "prepping for the project".
I actually learned a tremendous amount and was very thankful for the opportunity.
One way or another, get access to the net and if he doesn't want to do something productive at least he can read Hacker News all day long. Just stay off facebook in case that CTO looks over his shoulder. That would be too easily recognized.
Hire random candidates, they may or may not have potential as the interview/hiring process is broken/exploited anyway, then do this to them, break their spirits, make them believe corporate world is like this, they are serfs at the mercy of their company, stiffle their learning and desire to improve by not letting them to anything, not even browse randomly, give them donkey work to do.
Result is that potential competitors are denied a great candidate, they too get broken spirits and a weak workforce. But then, you take new hires and treat them good.
Evil but could work on local markets.
It is one thing to build up enough savings such that you can live off the 4% annual draw down stipend like MMM advocates, and then wasting your time. It is something else completely to be depending on someone else to pay you a salary.
He also reportedly claims to have made it all up but I couldn't find the source.
edit: Actually working in corporate America I can believe this is real aside from the nobody knowing you. You can have a manager and they can know you do nothing but they can't get rid of you.
I'll see if I still have those bookmarks at home and throw them in a website archivist.
 - http://www.pyxisinc.com/NNPP_Article.pdf
The only thing that doomed me was when I eventually found myself unable to keep from falling asleep and snoring in meetings. Tried everything I could think of... chewing gum, drinking water, screaming inside my head. No use; the dozing and snoring in plain view of everyone else continued. I think that clued them off that something was amiss, and I started being told I didn't need to come to meetings anymore... and was gone a few months after that.
Lucky thing, too... my teammate on our initial assignment there is still on that same contract, 6 years later... getting annual raises and the odd promotion here and there.. still doing nothing. He still gets that panicky look in his eyes and starts rambling on nonsensically when you ask him what exactly he does there. He was a lot better at pretending to be busy than I was, and wasn't as gung-ho about wanting to be let go if they couldn't find anything useful or challenging for him to do than I was.
Took a year for my productivity levels to bounce back after leaving that project. Was just really hard to do any work for a while... 2 years of nothing makes you quite lethargic being used to napping and web-surfing all day. Took me all day to answer the 1 email or so I'd get in the morning. Most productive things I did then were read classic literature and hone my chess skills against the computer. I play a mean game of chess vs. computer these days because of my time with the DoD.
The down side is that it really damaged my ability to work productively when I finally left there. I had to re-learn how to actually work (as opposed to 6 hours of surfing and noodling about).
I got it back, but not before I almost came into trouble at my next job. It did indeed take close to a year to recover.
That goes on the CV as "researched military strategy at the DoD".
After a while, I began coding my own projects. Which was a bit of a challenge, since IT wouldn’t let me install software. I did have Notepad, and a WAMP-server on my USB thumb drive. Mind you, I did not have an office of my own, it was basically an office garden. Co-workers (testing, helpdesk, project management, not too technical stuff) could watch my screen directly. So I had to disguise my project websites as a corporate intranet page. Every once in a while someone would say ‘wow, that looks difficult’ and I would say ‘well, you know’. Mind you this was just basic HTML and PHP stuff.
The next problem was internet access. They did have internet there, but most websites were blocked by IT, and they were monitoring internet traffic, too. So I learned how to set up a proxy server, and figured that if I kept the amount of traffic down I’d be allright. Besides, I couldn’t have my coworkers seeing me browse SO all day, right? It’s amazing how resourceful you get when your resources are limited!
The funny thing is that when you look busy yet can still ‘find the time’ to help others, people hold you in high regard. They even sent praise about me to the IT manager, who came down to me once and told me he heard great things about me, and he passed the praise on to my outsourcing company.
After a year or so I learned a great deal about web development, and finished a couple of side projects. I started to get some remorse. As funny and unique as the situation was, it didn’t feel right at all. Eventually I quit (to everyone’s surprise, because I was doing such a great job!), moving on to more challenging work, and above all a more ‘fair’ way to make money.
What struck me from those days is that nobody in my department actually knew what the others were doing. For all I know everybody was coding up their side projects in the boss’ time. And that was just my department, let alone the whole company. Large corporations (I’ve worked for several) are just so inefficient, I think that at least 50% of all employee hours is wasted on politics and sherades. The number is even higher if you count in useless meetings.
So I started setting up the management tools and noticed after a few days that nobody really came around much. Then I noticed that nobody was ever logging into these systems. Ever. It was a ghost datacenter running some WAN management stuff that nobody knew about -- some consultants set it up and left -- nobody knew what it was.
In my case, I did my job to the letter, I setup the management tools, got the servers and databases humming, etc. But the actual equipment was serving no discernable purpose. Total investment just in hardware and software was probably $5-6M
At least, that was the excuse they used when they fired him. I think the actual reason was that he was hard to get along with. However, it's difficult to fire him for that reason. Much easier to fire him over misuse of corporate equipment.
The guy told everyone about his MP3 server. Including summer interns.
Are you able to elaborate on this? I've always wondered how the warez scene functioned; residential Internet connections are obviously insufficient, hacked resources too risky, and warez groups turn their nose up at any form of legitimate resources (e.g. dedi/colo hosting)
This leaves corporate infrastructure. All it takes is a small IT team with a big budget, lots of hardware and network resources, and management who neither know nor care how their resources are being utilized.
It's terribly romantic.
Hacked resources are used as well. I worked at a place that used an old SGI Indy as a mail relay. It wasn't really managed, and somebody rooted it to use as a distribution server for warez and porn. I suspect the admins kept it running as a source for their own warez and porn needs.
I got involved when a spammer got in and sent millions of emails, flooding our puny T1 with bounces.
Think about it this way:
If a need comes up, it's going to take months to get all the paperwork done to get new hardware.
If you have idle hardware, you're ready to go ASAP.
It's also a form of redundancy, albeit a primitive one. If equipment goes out, you have stuff you can swap out immediately.
Slightly related, this reminds me of the 400,000 euro costing MRI-like machine my employer bought, without checking if it could connect to our healthcare software. It didn't.
So, Thursday comes and I try to get on the server... no response. A little more testing and the server looks like a dead box. I ring up IT and ask them to look into it, getting an email a few minutes later stating that the machine had a crash on Sunday night (4 days ago) and just hadn't been properly rebooted. As I logged in to do what I had intended to, it dawned on me that the department right next to mine had literally no other tasks right then except to be testing software on this server. Yet I, who had been putting off doing the work for 4 days, was the first to find out the server hadn't been working all week.
This sort of stuff is what makes small companies where your contributions matter feel even more rewarding.
Testing is so easy to fluff over. I did a mobile banking project (Project A) for my current employer and the business area said they needed 3 weeks to test it. The person assigned to test it was also assigned to test another project simultaneously (Project B). She would tell me she didn't have time to test Project A because she was testing Project B, and she would tell the Project B people she didn't have time to test because she was testing Project A.
In the end, I looked at the usage logs on the test site... she logged in on the last day of the three week period, futzed around for 5 minutes and then signed off on the project as "fully tested - no issues".
Good testing leaves artifacts, bad testing is easy to fluff over.
One guy in particular had a "birthday cake club" that he managed with ruthless efficiency; if you were a new starter you had to tell him your birthdate and he would allocate you a date where you'd bring in cake for everyone else in the office. He had a spreadsheet and everything. When it was somebody's turn to give away cake he'd go into each wing of our office and announce that cakes were ready, then bolt back to the kitchen to have first dips. Very strange guy - nobody knew what he really did beside that.
One day he was gone -- early retirement -- and the cake club, and spreadsheet, left with him.
"So, apart from reprogram dongles, what does he do?" > "I don't know either"
"No, I'm not trying to be funny here, you work with him, what does he actually do?" > "I'm not being funny, I actually have no idea what he does with his time"
As a manager of a software team, my goal is to make sure that everyone on the team is completely unblocked to do their job, so even though I only had 6 one on one employee meetings a week, I have meetings with managers, meetings for updates on projects, budgeting meetings, meetings to report to the company executives, getting all the signatures required for large purchases, meetings to discuss planning for future projects, meetings to plan our new process integration, meetings with higher ups to try to correct issues for my team. At one point I had 6 hours of meetings a day, so I think it adds up quickly. I'm not saying my company was efficient, but that's the reality of even a midsize company.
I knew someone who was put into a partial-managerial role, i.e., still did real work, but counted as only half an FTE for the purposes of project planning. The management role was to oversee two people.
So if half a manager is for two people, it's not that great a leap to get to a full-manager for six people.
Whatever you do in the future, remember the spirit and work ethics of the microbiology lab. If you find yourself working somewhere lacking that spirit but having the 'corporate' attitude instead, quit right away. Seriously. You'll thank me later!
So yes, try to work in environments with that attitude as long as you can!
This kind of thing is more frequent than I realized.
Last week I was reading a series of posts about how common it was for workers in machine shops to be doing work for themselves on company machinery. In a few cases, guys working the night shifts were basically running their own small businesses out of their "day job" often for years without the owner knowing about it.
Managers have to hit deadlines. Managers also write their own deadlines (to a large extent).
So they do what any rational person (or at least, anyone with the savvy to become a manager) will do - they write deadlines which can't possibly be missed. Lots of abstract terms (review methodology, test, design, etc), without links to concrete deliverables. Since there's no "real" outputs, no-one can check whether the work has been done. Obviously, there'll be a crunch at some point (quick, we have to actually build the web page we were designing!), but most of the time it doesn't matter whether people are feverishly working, or just letting the wheels spin.
I offered to help out other people (who were very busy) but was given strict instructions by my boss not to do so. I have no idea why.
It meant I had about 9 months of 40 hour weeks where I'd do maybe an hour per week of actual work.
At organizations like this you'll often have "re-orgs" where a few people are laid off (relatively speaking) but the "managers that matter" (those with the most power) come out having the same number of people beneath them. It will seem completely arbitrary to the people at the bottom of the org chart why their boss's boss's boss changed but the truth is that it happened because that guy used his influence to finagle the org chart in such a way as to keep the same number of reports.
I started working in 1998. Fresh out of school, I had this romantic idea about jobs being places where you go to perform a specific set of predefined tasks. 15 years down the road I learned about the waste, the fluff, the inefficiency, the incompetence of some managers, the politics and the corporate speak. They never teach you those things in school...
We had people who weren't entirely useless, but were paid an awful lot for the kind of work they did.
You could well have been adding value with the help you were giving, depending on how messed up their information flow/systems were.
Only 50%? I believe 80% or higher is a better number.
I remember a post here about only getting 2 hours of "real" work done each day in a big bureaucratic company.
I'd quit my job in a heartbeat if I wasn't saddled with debt. Don't be me, don't get in a big debt, else you'll live in bureaucratic hell. Hopefully I'll get out by next year (and I do have a few side projects).
I remember wondering then just how long I'd be able to take a job that paid relatively well but offered no... accomplishment.
Well fortunately for me, that opportunity came a few years later while working for one of the large banks! The answer to my earlier question was six months; I had worked a few years through various positions into operations, only to fall into a role with little managerial oversight and no responsibility, it got boring so fast...
Welcome to most jobs, ever, in every historical period and culture, ever since humans have had jobs distinct from whatever else they did with their lives.
Progress seems to consist of reducing the number of those kinds of jobs and, eventually, finding other things to do for the people who aren't suited to anything else.
Many jobs were probably quite fulfilling. A cobbler, for example, who produced a pair of shoes before this task could be automated or split Taylor-style.
They wound up with nearly zero responsibilities. Same as this story, they were relocated to a remote office and never assigned a new manager.
Once a month, they received an email from someone on the QA team with updated i18n strings for the latest software update. Their sole duty was to append the strings, commit, and verify the build wasn't broken. They replied to QA with a single word: "Done!", and that was all they did.
In their free time (as I recall) they made mobile games and about three years in, the company went into Chapter 11 and seeing the writing on the wall, they turned in their resignation... to whom, I don't know.
The new parent company separated the technical team and moved them into their own department in the main business, and left the rest as a separate entity (which has now been dissolved). As a part of the new team they were invited to their companies Christmas party. It's tradition for many people to get hilarious drunk and say things they shouldn't. I had left the company as this point to take a job elsewhere, but the friends I worked with saw some crazy things. One story that stood out was about one guy who was drunk, and spoke. He hung around with the new people and told them about the company.
They then asked him what he did, and he said "oh, nothing really, just this and that".
He had worked there for twelve years, was promoted in his eighth year to work under a manager, but after his manager left he was never assigned anywhere else in the company. During this time, the recession hit, and some restructuring was done, and he was promoted to manager of his department, despite him being the only member in the department. His project was long-finished by then, and he just stuck around, did around an hour of work a day helping others.
I hear that he doesn't slack off though, and that he spends his time improving his skills, uses up his training budget to gain new skills (apparently he gets a lot), and basically does the stuff around the office that no one else wants to do, like rewriting a ton of their internal systems.
They were valued for both having a lot of background knowledge in their area, and having an ability for judgment about detailed problems that could only be called "wisdom."
Management kept them around like wise elders because once or twice a week there'd be some task that others could do, but not as well or as thoroughly (use of judgment, again) as these people. Thus problems got transferred to them.
The counterpart to these people are Suzannes, named after the first one I met. You can have an office full of highly technical people, but Suzanne -- who usually doesn't get paid much, and is some kind of administrative staff -- is the person everyone asks questions of nearly constantly because she knows all the ins and outs of the business. Every office has a Suzanne, and often the place won't function if he or she is out sick for a day.
Yes, exactly. Thank you for this phrase. There's also a certain amount of institutional bonding (to coin another phrase) involved with these people, in that they're sort of "mother hens" who take care of everyone.
Definitely not cogs, but I'm not sure anyone is who actually belongs in a particular office. Cogs are (generally) apathetic, at least in their machine counterpart. In a team scenario, "apathetic" usually translates to some kind of burden being shifted to the group.
No, they wouldn't. You could do so much, but we live in a world where people spend 7 hours a month on Facebook and a game called Candy Crush makes over $600,000 per day.
At the same Not that I consider reading Proust a waste of time,
They can't fire him since he helped found the company and has some protections. But he refuses to do anything they ask him. Now both sides have given up. Guy won't even come into the office most of the time.
I don't know if it's a position I ever want to be in.
Not sure that makes the company so bad you have to leave; it's an historic glitch. Can you expand on your reasoning.
I guess there is a subset of people who may still be fooled.
It's interesting how similar the comments are.
Unlike this guy, though, I quit after 9 months (and started looking for a job after 6) because I was worried that my technical skills were being eroded. Unlike this guy, my career is way more important to me than collecting a free paycheck, and I'd rather be earning my keep than sitting around screwing the system.
Talk about a lack of imagination! Just think of all the dinky hacking projects you could do with a guaranteed paycheck and no responsibilities. I'd probably spend 12 hours a day writing qml.
It was painfully boring. I wrote a lot of hobby code. Learned a couple of programming languages. Read a few good books. Helped people with their resumes. Had some nice long lunches. Volunteered to fix everything that broke during business hours so that I could feel like I'd at least done something useful.
I wish I'd produced something more useful during those slack 3 months, but I was afraid that if I did, the big company would claim ownership of it.
I ended up writing a rasterizer from scratch, then writing a text mode demo, and also using my used paper (print testing remember?) to make progressively more complex origami. That was the one coop job I wasn't sad about leaving, on my last day I just handed the person who used to be my manager my pass and walked out.
Not to mention, I was in a similar position for a couple of months. But given that I'm generally a hard worker (much like the guy in the post), I almost went crazy for not doing anything productive and ended up writing code for much needed tools at the company. And I don't think I could put up with not doing anything for that long. So, something smells fishy about this story...
Then came the "solution." A program whereby managers had to spend 90 minutes a week on the floor talking to their employees. Work was actually supposed to stop while this happened. This got inserted into everybody's objectives.
I found this particularly galling because I'd locked horns with a couple of the worst offenders in some of the few meetings I'd managed to dodge, and because, managing a team of 15 devs, I already made 1-on-1 time available to them weekly and easily spent 90 mins a day with them doing actual work. (You just can't manage technical folk without some involvement and understanding of their daily challenges. There's a respect issue otherwise, on both sides.)
The program came and went. Nobody failed the objective, though after the first week the usual suspects just hid in their office or spent their 90 minutes playing with their phones. And when the next budget crunch came, management layers only increased (because they were all high performers going by their performance review) while people who did actual work got laid off.
Of all the stuff I saw in that corp, that one annoyed me the most (and it wasn't even the most serious - 7-figure vanity projects were a real problem).
Finally, 6 weeks after I started, we hired a new dev. Support immediately handed him a Macbook Pro that they apparently just had lying around (that is, the one they ordered for me 2 months earlier). My manager thankfully made sure it went to me, and the new dev received his own machine two days later.
Somewhat amusingly, they blocked POST requests to Twitter, but not GET requests, so I could view tweets, but couldn't post any. Fortunately, I was able to use Buffer to get around this. :)
Happy ending - after 10 months in the corporate jungle, I am now going to work remotely for a startup! Very excited to be part of the startup scene instead of peering in from the outside.
In 4HWW, Tim Ferris talked about his emotional breakdown when he realized he had set things up so he had nothing to do.
It's something to think about, examining just what is the motive and underlying emotional current behind the lamentations of "wasting" time.
Besides which: the guy had also a period of his life where he worked his ass off and was obviously coasting on the goodwill and reputation generated from there. People respected him and seemed to think he was very busy, because in the past, they've seen him work the 70 hours a week.
Basically the person "X" was told don't bother applying for time off if its less than 10 days.
Well "X" has done travels around the world without ever taking any vacation time off.