Companies Starting To Realize That Playing Solitaire Isn't Always Bad For Productivity

from the can-be-refreshing dept

For years, we've pointed out how silly it is every time yet another web filtering company comes out with a study and the press hypes it up about how much time people spend doing non-work things, such as personal web-surfing or playing solitaire. Hell, in New York City, there was even a big story about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired some poor office worker after seeing that he had solitaire open on his office computer. The simple fact is that you cannot expect workers to be productive every second of every minute all day long. It actually hurts productivity by not giving them the chance to have important breaks. The good news, though, is that it appears more and more companies are starting to recognize that all slacking isn't a bad thing. They're trying to figure out the right "slacking/working equilibrium," though that doesn't seem that hard to figure out. If the employees are getting the work done that they're supposed to be getting done, then what's the problem? If they're not getting the work done, or it's not getting done well, then there's a problem.


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    Beck, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 7:57pm

    We Used Solitaire to Increase Productivity

    About 18 years ago, when PCs were fairly new and expensive and not in everyone's home, we were installing a new system in our client's factories.

    Shop floor workers, many who had never used a computer, would be entering data. A few weeks before the application was installed we set up the computers out in the factory and encouraged everyone to play solitaire. This gave them familiarity with using a computer and a mouse, and smoothed the way for the new software.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 9:22pm

    First YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

     

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    Buzz, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 9:52pm

    Wow

    Fired for having solitaire open... daaang... I have to be in a groove while I'm developing software. If I am debugging and simply cannot figure out what the problem is for a couple hours, I have to browse the Internet for a moment in order to not explode. I've never played games on the job, but I've certainly vented in other ways. Considering how I finally got the job done, it's apparently not a big problem.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 10:17pm

    They removed sol.exe from all the PC's here. So we all just bring in cards and have to play manually.
    It was a dumb idea now we just play other "SWF" games off the web. Well maybe it made the managers feel powerful.

     

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    James Terrel, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 11:49pm

    When a person decides to do something for him or herself on company time, that person SHOULD be fired. You are hired to perform your duty, slacking of is reason for immediate dismissal.

     

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      should have been fired a long time ago apparently, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 1:30am

      Re: never work for this nazi

      Wow. Did you used to be in the military? Were you part of any brainwashing experiments? Oh, no, I've got it, Wal-mart store manager!

      Immediate dimissal for doing "something for him or herself on company time"? Are you serious? I guess you never go to the bathroom during "company time", or drink any water, or THINK, or BREATHE, or tie your shoes or, wait, isn't advancing your career doing "something for him or herself on company time"?

      Guess what, friend, when you have a job, that doesn't mean you sold your soul/brain/identity/self to the company. You're at that job to make money, to move ahead in your career, to network or learn a new skill so that you CAN move ahead, because you enjoy the work (I know there are at least a dozen people out there that this applies to...), OR because you in some way get something out of it. It isn't because you are a slave, owned by the company. And indeed, the company hired you for a reason--they need something from you. It is a reciprocal give and take relationship, really, not the feudal system.

      So, if my employer needs something from me, and I want what they have to offer, then they need to provide me with the space or time or motivation to get what they want from me. And if that involves giving me some paid downtime every once in a while, then that is what they have a DUTY to give me, else they forfeit my ability and my DUTY to give them 100% productivity.

       

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        Trashed, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re: never work for this nazi

        Military guys slack off plenty dude. In fact, thta's where I saw the most slacking of anywhere I've worked. It's usually business owners who expect 100% total loyalty and focus on the job for $5/Hr. They don't seem to understand that the owner is the only person who has a real stake in the success or failure of his company, and a job is just a job to anyone else.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

        Re: Re: never work for this nazi

        Guess what, friend, when you have a job, that doesn't mean you sold your soul/brain/identity/self to the company.
        If you work for my company it does. Someone like you'd be fired for having a "bad attitude".

         

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      David., Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 1:48am

      Re: James Terrel

      Thats bullsh*t! As long as someone does what work they have to do, does it well, and turns it in on time, what's the problem with that? If its not hurting anything, then its not a problem. Working hard at a 9-5 office job is not your "duty". This is life, not the military... everyone needs to slack off once in a while. Lighten up, man.

       

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      Lonely Walker, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      What you just posted in my opinion a none sense.

      There is no human possible way to be "productive" the whole 8 hours, simply unless that job is the actual center of your existence the brain will not be able to focus all the time.
      More often than not if you keep trying over and over again to fix a problem you will lock up and get nowhere. Now if you go, grab a cup of coffee and chat to a colleague about a non-related work conversation you will be able to see the problem afterwards from a different perspective since your brain will have "freshen up" a bit.

      The same way surf the net or play solitaire or call the wife, girlfriend, etc... will have the same result.

       

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      Kevin, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 9:46am

      Re:

      Slacking of? Go back to school

       

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      Fiona Blagrove, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 11:44am

      Re: by James Terrel on Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 11:49pm

      You are hired to do your duty for a specified number of hours for which you get paid.

      Point one: Many people are exchanging THEIR valuable time for less wages than they should

      Point two: companies force employees to play the corporate game by working extra hours even on weekends, attending corporate functions etc for no extra pay- is that not the employee's time? I figure it evens out in the end.

      Any country that once had unlimited free labor is going to find it difficult to transform their thinking from "If we pay you we own you" After all, many times people were owned without even paying them...I guess if that's where you are coming from I can see your point!

       

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      Dean Philips, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 4:32pm

      Re:

      That has to be by far the most idiotic statement I have read in a long time.

      Using your logic, if my wife or kids call me to discuss something urgent for example, I should be fired.
      There is something to be said for taking breaks, balancing work and personal life, it makes for better employess and morale.

       

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      Jack Sombra, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      James Terrel, either you are rather young and never worked or bearly worked for a living or you work for (or are a manager a department/company) that wonders why it has has a ridiculously high staff turnover.

      In my working life worked a hell of a lot of companies of all different types, from the small 10 man type to the large blue chip multinationals (as a contractor i move on after a project is done) and there is one thing i have found without fail.

      If the company has your type of mindset they normally need 3 times the staff to get anything done and take twice as long to get it done and at the end of the day probably do it badly and except for management most of the staff have been there for less than 3 years.

      Where as the companys who do not treat their employee's like mindless slave robots, staff have been there for donkey years, get things done with less staff, in half the time and do things so well that the clients are calling management to thank them for the service.

       

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      SH, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 10:29pm

      Re:

      James Terrel: You are a very lonely, sad person I bet. Your also full of crap.

       

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      That Other Guy, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      Classic capitalist comment. I congrats you. If you are a manager, I can assure you all of your employees hate you.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      for creative work, a break is very efficient to find a new angle. If the job is about putting letters into envellops of course solitaire will not be much helpfull.
      how do you control that someone figuering out the best wording for a presentation is acually working or day dreaming ? if you cannot trust creative person, dont run such business.....

       

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      james bertrand, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 1:15am

      Re:

      wow man have you ever worked? or did you run a business all your life, its not slacking when an emplyee is giving 110% to take a little break from monotony to do something to bring him or her back to life a bit and sometimes they have nothing to do for that moment and just play to stay busy, i work as tech support and have adhd and if i didnt get to play games while i was on calls i would go nuts and i would not be one fo the top supprt techs at my job
      rethink your attitude and your emplyees might work harder for you and maybe even like you

       

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      wilsonta, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 6:58am

      Re:

      nimrod

       

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      Cougar192, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

      Re: James Terrel

      Interesting. So you've never gone to the bathroom? Never had lunch? Never taken off from work to go to a child's play/sporting event? Never called a family member from work for any reason?

      You're dedication to work is admirable. Hope you live to see 50.

       

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      Tony Baker, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 2:21am

      Missing the point!

      Man, are you ever missing the point!!! If the work gets done, then what's the problem? If playing solitaire every so often helps you relax and makes your day more enjoyable, then why the hell not do that? People have good days and bad days at work. On the good days you're in the groove and you can spit out work, on bad days you can't. At the end of the day, if everything gets done, then good.

       

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    Aaron Blunt, Feb 2nd, 2007 @ 11:52pm

    We have tools that monitor internet traffic. We don't block anything to our employees, but if they use company internet to look at anything non work related, they are immediately let go. It is the only way to get a dedicated crew.

     

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      kamacozi, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      I'm writing this while at work, monitoring seven e-bay auctions and looking up internet ta-ta sites for my husband. Oh, and I'm also getting my work done more efficiently and accurately than the woman sitting next to me stuffing her face with twinkies and browsing the latest Pampered Chef catalog.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:29am

      Re:

      '---but if they use company internet to look at anything non work related, they are immediately let go. It is the only way to get a dedicated crew."

      Yes, dedicated to finding another job before they slip up!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 4:54pm

      Re:

      Thats the only way to get a zombie crew

       

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      AL1EN, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 5:17pm

      "Dedicated", or demoralized?

      How does forcibly preventing someone from doing something increase dedication??? If they are TRULY dedicated you wouldn't need to monitor it, they just wouldn't do it. This sounds more like you don't trust your employees - I have NEVER felt dedication to and company that treats its "valued employees" like that...

       

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      Jesse McNelis, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 5:58pm

      Re:

      Do not mistake fear of getting fired for dedication.
      Obtaining dedication from your employees requires that they like their job and what they are doing.

       

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    Anonomous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 12:26am

    Monitoring Internet? Hired to perform your "Duty"?

    I currently work for a Fortune 10 company. I've also worked for smaller (20-80 employee) companies, and several within the Fortune 500. As I progressed in my career, I've come to realize that the world doesn't revolve 100% around work, and any company that tries to control their employees to that level typically has serious morale problems.

     

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    Iron Chef, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 12:28am

    Best Buy's new "Results Oriented Working Environme

    Best Buy is doing some real innovative things, that are causing excellent, quantifiable results, like 30% increase in productivity, lower employee turnover.

    The working environment in general is changing.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16040492/

     

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    Cixelsid, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 1:24am

    When a person decides to do something for him or herself on company time, that person SHOULD be fired. You are hired to perform your duty, slacking of is reason for immediate dismissal.

    I see. So that means you'd have to fire every single employee. I don't believe that there exists an employee who doesn't slack off every now and again, if there is, he´s either a robot or a workaholic heading for a serious nervous breakdown. And if you believe otherwise my friend, then you have obviously never sat in front of a screen debugging somebody else´s code for 8.5 hours a day, five days a week.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 4:39am

    I was a graphics designer for a while, when I'd run out of ideas for an ad piece I'd go screw around online for a while, more often than not I'd come back refreshed and be able to finish the piece, making it look much better since my mind had a chance to rest.

    The people who believe that you should be fired instantly probably worked in or managed a factory crew. Factories, Retail and Offices are completely different work environments.

    There is a reason why factories have so many breaks throughout the day. Retail and Office work, you kind of make your own breaks. In the end they accomplish the same thing except factory breaks are controlled(for good reason, having someone take a break on an assembly like is not going to work at all).


    As long as if your mind breaks are not interfering with a level of work required by your employer there should be no problem.

     

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    nonamejoe, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 6:48am

    Aaron and James

    Wow Aaron and James, it seems like you two create a hostile working environment. Micro-management is a morale killer. In this day and age, any employer who uses PCs for their business and does not allow employees (at least management staff) to use the internet may be damaging not only the productivity of their business, but the ability for their buisness to keep up with everyone else. I have found many improvements to my business that I would have never found without the Internet. The Internet is an integral part of the evolution of business.

     

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    nonamejoe, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 6:49am

    Aaron and James

    Wow Aaron and James, it seems like you two create a hostile working environment. Micro-management is a morale killer. In this day and age, any employer who uses PCs for their business and does not allow employees (at least management staff) to use the internet may be damaging not only the productivity of their business, but the ability for their buisness to keep up with everyone else. I have found many improvements to my business that I would have never found without the Internet. The Internet is an integral part of the evolution of business.

     

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    Deanna, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 7:17am

    Freelance = productivity freedom

    I have to admit, probably one of the top 3 reasons I became a freelance/contract worker was so that I could manage my own irregular productivity intervals. Listening to your brain and body tell you when to slow down or even stop working does wonders for your mood, relationships, and of course, how much you get done in a day... just the idea that I can go wander off to the grocery store because the ol' LCD is burnin' my eyeballs has completely saved me.

     

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    weebit, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 7:46am

    games

    each of the games teach you a skill. Solitaire = mouse skills Pin Ball lower case keys. etc. This was not done by accident. A couple hands of cards doesn't hurt a company. A few rounds of online p0rn sites, or gambling does.

     

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    Matt, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 7:59am

    Productivity

    At my company, I set aside time to do different things to clear your head. For example, we will just get on our bikes and go for a ride (several of us are into cycling and mountain biking)...15, 20 miles, whatever.

    We might be gone an hour (sometimes more). But, sometimes, halfway through the ride, we'll stop and take a break and then BOOM! the problem we were trying to solve "appears" to 1 or all of us. I keep a little notebook and pencil in my pack that I ride with.

    Maybe for us it's a different version of the "cocktail napkin", but some of things we have worked on for clients takes a sufficient amount of creativity.

    But, I'll admit, that's my business and many of our circumstances.

    There are probably appropriate work environments were restrictions on internet access are probably appropriate. But, most of these are obvious (e.g., service jobs). But, office jobs, you need the break

     

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    Ray, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 9:19am

    Problem solving

    Humans best solve problems by front-loading the brain with information about the problem... then switching off completely and doing something else. In the background, your brain will process the information and present you with the solution suddenly and unexpectedly. Preventing your employees from switching off when they need to is to cut your company off from vital creative thought.

     

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    Mitch the Bitch, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 10:26am

    After reading this forum regularly Ive come to the firm conclusion that the vast majority here are Stoned out of their heads.... How else can anyone explain the pure rubbish that gets spewed all over this site daily?

     

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    Andrew Pollack, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 11:53am

    The larger issue is that the hours spent isn't a g

    More and more jobs are done without ever going to the office on a regular basis. I'm someone who did this very early on, and have been working from a home office for more than 13 years.

    Companies used to be terrified of this -- the idea that the couldn't track attendance and hours spent was difficult for management.

    In the end, companies need to be tracking results and out put, making users accountable for work product not time spent on work product.

    I'm a programmer, and have my own company now. I never ever do things on a purely hourly basis. Why? Because I'm very good at what I do. I produce quality work in less time. For this I should be paid less than a moron or newbie who takes longer to produce crap? I don't think so. Instead, I charge whatever I want -- a price a fix at whatever amount will make me glad I did the work. The few clients who don't like that, I offer to help them find someone else qualified who will work their way. No hard feelings, just not personally interested.

    --AP

     

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      fuzzix, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 4:36am

      Re: The larger issue is that the hours spent...

      More and more jobs are done without ever going to the office on a regular basis. I'm someone who did this very early on, and have been working from a home office for more than 13 years.

      [snip]

      I'm a programmer...

      I once worked a mainframe programming job 9-5. Aside from the fact that doing anything other than staring at that green on black terminal meant you weren't working, I didn't write my best code at 9am - especially when the environments and challenges were fairly uninteresting.

      The idea that programming could be gauged or paid by the hour always seemed strange. The fact that I couldn't choose those hours and work from say, 6pm to 3am (where I do my best work ;) ) made even less sense. The fact that I was forced to be alert at non-optimal times of the day without the odd mind break was what eventually sent me hurtling back towards furthering my education to a point where I get to call the shots ;)

      Rigid office structures aren't conducive to most types of work but the lack of imagination of management teams means most work goes on in these environments.

       

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    Shohat, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 1:39pm

    Why not fire ?!

    If a person can't do his job without taking breaks , you fire him , and look for another person that can .
    Sure , this isn't the right thing for R&D , but for clercks , QA , telemarketing , manufacturing and everything else that doesn't require creativity , a person should be fired for wasting company time .

     

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      rayblueline, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 3:22pm

      Re: Why not fire ?!

      My feeling is that if you're an executive or manager, you should spend less time firing people for playing solitaire when they need a break and more time figuring out how to automate the tasks in your organization that don't require creativity or intelligence.

       

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      Mousky, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:26am

      Re: Why not fire ?!

      Man, I hope you don't run a business. You need creativity in every single position, regardless of how mundane the job is. Toyota is a successful company because it listens to employees on the assembly line. If you ran that place, you would be firing employees for being creative and you would be out of business in months, if not weeks.

       

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        Paul, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:15pm

        Re: Re: Why not fire ?!

        Most wise companies listen to their employees, and listen to employees who work hard and innovate, not vegetate and find inventive ways to slack off. Many companies even reward personnel who innovate with stock options, and oh yea, promotions.

         

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          Vincent Clement (profile), Feb 5th, 2007 @ 6:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why not fire ?!

          Most companies fire workers who vegetate and slack off. That said, there is a difference between taking a break and slacking off.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 7:38pm

    Personally I think every individual throughout the world should be supplied with a house elf...For those of you who are not aware of their "can do" attitude and tireless work ethic please read the Harry potter books. Just imagine the utopian lifestyles we will lead with magical creatures endlessly performing all our tasks with no breaks and almost mechanical efficiency!

    Oh...wait...thats fiction...But then again so is James Terrels' idea of a responsible employee...

     

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    Paul, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 8:30pm

    careful

    You have to be careful when you start on this topic, because generally speaking, the people who do the most complaining about how bad bosses/companies are for taking away games or disciplining those who aren't focused, are usually the people doing the least productive things.
    I can multitask, but not everyone can. Also, a few years back, before the advent of the cell phone, taking person calls at work was considered a no no everywhere, now people think its terrible when a boss or company requests that they turn off cell phones.
    I have worked for many companies and now own my own, and I hope that my employees will try to be as productive as possible, and leave their down time for their break time.

     

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    Paul, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 8:43pm

    PS careful

    To be sure, everyone at some point or another who works at an office job, leans back in their chair and stares at the ceiling with a numb brain. I have experienced this at several jobs, but have always tried to work hard for the dollar I earned, which in my opinion (who doesn't feel this way) wasn't enough.
    I was taught at a young age that if you didn't work as hard as you knew you could at a job you were being paid for, then you were stealing. Now, let me qualify that: I am not suggesting spending dozens of extra hours a week at the office, or any nonsense of the kind, but if you are sitting at your desk, deliberately slacking off when you know you could be working, then what you are doing is wrong.
    It is no different than stealing money from a cash register, or taking a longer break than you are allowed by state and federal law. As someone said earlier, you hired on for this job, so either find a better one or suck it up and do it.
    I work about 35-40 hours a week with the company I own, and spent plenty of family time by design, the guy who works for me spends even less, but I was promoted with every company I worked for because of diligence that the management and my coworkers quickly became aware of.
    A lack of ethics is what is slowly but surely undermining what it took to make our country great.

    That said, I am getting off my soap box.

     

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    XCetron, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 10:09pm

    Well, as long as you complete your given work in the given ammount of time, I dont see anything wrong in surfing the web or take a nice nap or anything, as long as it does not substantially affect the companys resources.

     

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    Scott, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 10:42pm

    My Job

    the company I work for is lucky to get 3-4 hours a day from me. Funny thing is, I get everything done in that amount of time, which leaves me free to research things that interest me, which just happens to be what I do for a living...kinda catch 22, so, I am actually bettering myself through research while being paid by the company I work for. My boss knows exactly what I do, and for how long, and he blesses it with eagerness, as he knows it is just going to make his job easier.

    Long story short, fuck you draconian whip lashers who think that the only way is your way!!

     

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      Mousky, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:49am

      Re: My Job

      Long story short, fuck you draconian whip lashers who think that the only way is your way!!

      Hear. Hear. I'll second that.

       

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      Paul, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:11pm

      Re: My Job

      Interesting point about your particular job, not a very interesting use of vocabulary towards the end, kind of takes away from your statement. I am a boss, and I encourage my employee (singular on purpose) to research and expand his understanding, but his work must be done first. I agree with your statement, if not your vulgarity.

       

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    Andrew, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 12:50am

    If paid by the hour slackings wrong.

    The problem many of you seem to point out is this: "If you complete your work in the given ammount of time then its ok...". Unless you are being paid by the job not the hour this is wrong. When you finish all your work, find something else to do. Clean the office, ask for something else or clock out. I enjoy my job but I'm not going to waste time at work playing games or just browsing, I'd rather finish and go home. For those who need to take breaks to be more creative thats understandable but can't you just change to a different task.

     

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      Mousky, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:46am

      Re: If paid by the hour slackings wrong.

      For those who need to take breaks to be more creative thats understandable but can't you just change to a different task.

      Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the person. Depends on the workplace. Depends on the job. Depends on the time-of-day. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution in the workplace. What works for you - starting a new task of shifting to a different task - may not work for others. A good manager should be able to recognize that.

       

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    kitobot, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 1:11am

    Maybe this is obvious...

    Most of the people saying slacking is bad also add that they own their company...

    Maybe there is something in not slacking...

    *closes solitaire*

    *realises he doesn't even want to own a company*

    *gets back to slacking*

     

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      Paul, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 6:13pm

      Re: Maybe this is obvious...

      or should it read:

      Closes solitaire...

      Realizes he doesn't own his own company...

      Gives two weeks notice and Starts own company...

       

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    Chuck, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 7:54am

    Re: Aaron and James

    If you coming here and posting this during your work time, YOUR FIRED!

     

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    jinx, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 9:30am

    they still make you?

    I am a technical producer (development background) for a marketing company. If you work for me and want to continue doing so, you get your work done. Finish it on schedule and do a good job. I could care less how you get from point A to point B.

    I tell my employees to call it a night if I see they are getting frustrated towards the end of the day. Maybe they finish a milestone at 4:30, how much can you truly get started on in the next 30 minutes or so. They like me and respect me for this, they are also willing to burn the midnight oil when we need to hit a deadline.

    Most people fail miserably when they are given any degree of freedom, but did you really want them working for you anyhow?

    Learn how to manage, build a good team, and don't become the man . If you take care of your employees, they will take care of you.

     

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    Maverick, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 10:12am

    Democracy in the workplace

    I recommend the book "The Seven-Day Weekend" by Ricardo Semler for people interested in this topic. Semler grew his company from $35 M to $212 M per year by implementing democracy in the workplace rather than having what he calls a "command and control" environment.

    By closely monitoring employees you may have employees that show up on time and don't surf the web, but you'll also have a culture of fear. You will not have motivated employees functioning at their potential. Your best employees will leave when they have a chance, taking their intellectual capital with them.

     

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    Turtle Ilsand, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 12:32pm

    Solitaire on the job

    I've work in and own businesses with many different enviroments, office, retail, security, engeneering, etc. I've even tried stay-at-home dad (that was the hardest and I found I'm not that great at it). I've been at the bootom of the totem pole, and top of the coorporate ladder. The one thing I've learned, everyone, reguardless of position, needs unscheduled downtime form the grind. For those who think it's a drain on the company for an employee to play solitaire, or veg out some other way for a few minutes. Stop and think one minute about the managers (probably the same one complaining) that stops in the hall and brags about his last golf score. No work going on there, same amount of time waisted, wheres the difference.
    Point is people..........we're all human, we need un planned distractions.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

      Re: Solitaire on the job

      Stop and think one minute about the managers (probably the same one complaining) that stops in the hall and brags about his last golf score. No work going on there, same amount of time waisted, wheres the difference.
      Simple: Rank has its privileges.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 2:19pm

    If the employees are getting the work done that they're supposed to be getting done, then what's the problem?
    And therein lies the problem: How do you determine how much work is supposed to be getting done? Many (most?) managers assume that if an employee is not hard at work every second, then they don't have enough work to do and simply increase the work load that they're "supposed" to get done until it exceeds what is possible. At that point then any non-work activity is assumed to be proof of willful negligence since their assigned work load is not getting done and they can be terminated for cause (i.e. no unemployment benefits).

    The smarter employee tries to always at least look busy and avoid this scenario.

     

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    Office Space, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 3:27pm

    Terrel's Bullshit

    This is the kind of mentality that made me strike out on my own. I make more than I ever did, set my own hours and routine, and have the added luxury of telling misers who want justification on every penny, think "business is war and only the strong survive", and believe management through intimidation is the correct way to deal with people, that "Thank you for calling, but my schedule is too full at this time."

    And yeah, "Office Space" is a classic classic movie...)

     

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    Rafal, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 3:41pm

    I think this opinion has been made by someone from this website to heat up this discussion, don't you think?

    'When a person decides to do something for him or herself on company time, that person SHOULD be fired. You are hired to perform your duty, slacking of is reason for immediate dismissal.'

     

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    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Re: Solitare on the job

    And those manager's time is worth more, so they are getting a biggr privelidge by slacking for the same amount of time. Still, a manager is meant to get the work allocated to his division done, so being a nazi, at one level, can mean that he is doing his job even if he stops to brag about his poor golf score. OTOH, he is likely to have problems because of his recritment budget (lower wages though, no seniority pay)and if he gets a bad name, he is unlikely to get any further promotion, so he could be shooting himself in the foot.

     

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    CrazyWorker, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:13pm

    We are changing . . .

    How many people here work for companies that have their cell number? Who has gotten a call on the weekend or at weeknight? And how many people work in retail environments where the ubiquitous "call in" exists? (A "call in" is when an employee is required to hold the shift open to work, calls the company half an hour before and is told whether to come into work or not).

    The nature of how we work is changing. We are no longer "9-5" employees; not only are we now 8-5, many of us are 24/7. As an attorney, I need to be available at all times for a client should an emergency occur, doctors go "on call," Tech support rush in at 3 a.m., and retail employees get fewer days truly "off." Four years ago a study came out that showed that the American workers worked more hours than every country in the world, save South Korea and the Czech Republic.

    When I go on vacation and stop answering my cell from clients, I'm still reading my email, checking-in with my office, and thinking about my cases. On top of this, I experience a lot of guilt simply for being away. (This is not unique to me, legal publications have been talking about this phenomenon for years). So excuse me when I take a minute, clear my head, and read my personal email or catch-up on a blog.

    We are working more hours, whether companies recognize it or not. When a company calls a worker at 7:00 p.m., that worker's night is changed. No longer is she sitting at home with her husband eating dinner -- now she's sitting at home, eating dinner, and worrying about something at the office. Our minds are in constant overdrive, and we need this time to step back.

    Finally, solitaire (or some other type of semi-mindless activity) does not mean there is no work going on. One of the best ways to focus on something is to put part of your mind to work doing something else, so that other concerns do not trespass their boundaries.

     

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    MissingFrame, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:19pm

    The beatings will continue ...

    Until morale improves!

    A lot of hard-asses can only get zombie-like employees to work for them, which is fine. The non-zombies will work for more productive places and the problem will solve itself.

     

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    CrazyWorker, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:24pm

    One more thing . . .

    And one more thing. Very, very, very few people are hired to do something anyone could do. From janitors to CEOs, it is not only the fact that one has arms or legs (or not) that gets one hired. People are hired because they are needed in the work environment -- you are hired on the basis of your personality, your intelligence, your experience, your looks, your knowledge/education, your attitude, etcetera. Even if you are hired to twist eye bolts into 2x4s, you're being hired for more than just your fingers. You're being hired not only because of the effort you'll put into it, but also because you're not gonna screw up! So if you have to think for a minute, if you have to clear your thoughts or rub your hands for a minute, by all means, do so.

    Now for those of us who charge by the hour, we certainly shouldn't be charging someone else while we are going to the bathroom. Not only would that be unethical, it would be downright mean. But simply because I'm sitting staring off into space doesn't mean I'm not developing a brilliant strategy to defend you in court because your employee screwed up because he hadn't had his morning coffee and ran someone off the road.

     

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    the boss, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:38pm

    Alright lets cut...

    Alright lets cuts the slack and go back to work, lets close our browser...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2007 @ 8:44pm

    The occasional slacker isn't the problem

    The company I work for is very liberal about computer usage. The employees that are let go for web slacking usually do so 4-5 hours a day. That's not a healthy mind clearing break, that's someone who is getting paid to loaf. ...and I might add someone others end up having to do extra work to compensate for.

    I think its rare to find companies that fire people for occasional slacking. Most companies find plenty of problems at a much more serious level. Besides, unless a company can prove they have written policies against any non-business related web browsing, they risk legal action if that is the only reason an employee is fired.

     

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    W.A. ten Brink, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 1:51am

    Slacktime and worktime...

    Right now I'm at work typing this message and my Boss doesn't mind. And whBecause I am a software developer and my work is basically a creative process. You can't put a creative process within a fixed time-frame. Problem is, around 10:30 (which is now) I might have a complete mind-block and are just unable to come up with a good, new idea or solution for some problem. Yet, when I'm back home in about 8 hours and watching Babylon 5 on DVD my mind might be budy doing a background task and suddenly come up with a solution for whatever it was that has been bugging me all day.

    Now, technically speaking, if my Boss claims my time from 9 to 5, then I claim my time from 5 to 9 as my personal time and if I happen to get some idea during this period that would help me at work, then I would demand to be compensated for the private time lost. The same applies when I'm back home and studying new techniques or expanding my knowledge. There's no such thing as a free lunch, not even for my employer.

    So basically, time overlaps. I get compensated for the loss of personal time by having some time during business hours for personal issues. In general, this is a very good trade-off for both me and my employer. What is lost between 9 to 5 is compensated between 5 to 9.

    In the past, I did work for a Boss who tried to get everyone to work between strict hours. Unfortunately, he did this when there was a deadline for some project so the first day that this was implemented was leave at exactly 5 o'clock. We hadn't agreed to overtime and if he wanted to play it strictly to the rules then that was fine by me.
    The second day I left again at the same time but before going home I told my boss that at the current working pace, we would not make it for the deadline.
    So on the third day he came to his senses and made things less strict again. So I did a bit of overwork again and (as I used to do before) I also sacreficed some of my personal time again instead of trying to think about something else when my project came up in my head while I was at home.
    We made it to the deadline, btw.

    There are of course real slackers out there. I've seen plenty of them. Worse, I've seen slackers work from 9+ to 5-, getting in a bit late and leaving a bit early, spending lots of time near the coffee machine (mostly talking) and in general doing absolutely nothing. But they managed to appear busy all the time. That is, up until the moment that they had to show the results of their work. But by then, it was too late already to have them kicked out and replaced.

    Slacking is something that requires great responsibilities. If you get your work done in the amount of time set for the project then you can slack as often as you like. In the end, it's the result that counts, not the amount of real hours that you've worked on it. That's because with real slackers, you can never tell how much of their personal time they have used on the project in compensation for lost business hours...

     

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    james bertrand, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 1:52am

    i mean you james terrel

    my last comment was referring to post #5

     

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    Mike Egbert, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 2:49am

    re: Solitaire (Productivity)

    I agree 100% that personal breaks (e.g., solitaire) actually aide in productivity. However, the 2-step test you outline (i.e., the work is getting done/not getting done) is not as simple. If the work is getting done - no problem. Now if the work is not getting done, then this may not be directly attributable to the quantity of personal time. As an example, if a worker is given a reasonable amount of tasks, then with or without reasonable personal breaks, the tasks will most likely be completed. But if a worker is over tasked, then this becomes another issue that is not related to personal-time equilibrium.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 7:35am

    Reading this article at work

    I got caught reading this article at work and got fired.

    :(

     

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    FrankTheTank, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Funny, both sides of the fence have great strengths, and yet they have their weaknesses.

    first, yes when you work for a company, you get paid fir x hours or what. typically it's 40 hrs/wk. some do the 80hrs/2wks (meaning that you can work a 30/50, 60/20, 40/40, etc.) either way, you are contracted to work a specified number of hours. if you don't, you really aren't doing your job. however, it's next to impossible to deliver a consistant period of producitvity.

    I think the one poster who said, that he "slacks" during the day but makes up for it at night has a good feeling. you may be required to be at a desk for 8 hours, but that doesn't mean you should be working. there are 168 hours in the week, for which we normally work 40. there's plenty of time to "make up" for lost desk time. however the problem is tracking. how can we prove you worked 3 hours at home, or whatever.

    next, "getting work done" who defines getting work done? does it mean completing a project before the deadline? but does that mean if you get youor project done on time, and still slacked, that you can take on more work? technically, yes. in actuallity, probably not.

    so, i think any company has a right to expect full productivity from all employees. however, i feel that any company that expcets this is destined to fail. also, i wouldn't work for said company.

    just mho....

     

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Feb 5th, 2007 @ 6:55pm

      Re:

      next, "getting work done" who defines getting work done?

      It is not uncommon for construction projects to include bonuses for getting work done before a deadline and penalties for getting work done after a deadline. If you get a project done before a deadline, why can't the 'slack' time be considered a bonus?

       

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    W.A. ten Brink, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 8:10am

    Anyway...

    ...I think that in the IT, employees should be judged based upon the fact that they finish their work before the deadline and the quality of their work. While I might be slacking, I do get my work finished before the deadline and it has a very high quality. (One tester even got bored by the product I created since he just could not find anything serious!) I work at my own speed and sometimes I'm very slow and sometimes I start up the hyperdrive and get beyond lightspeed.
    So I think I have a right to slack a little since I get the job done.

    Btw, how about all those people slacking at other jobs? Many jobs tend to have moments of waiting, where there's just nothing to do for a while. A open shop with no customers, for example. Or a newspaper reporter waiting for a call that will give him a new lead to a story he's working on. A police officer reading the newspaper since there's no crime going on at that moment. A babysitter watching TV since the baby is fast asleep. A secretary paining her nails because there are no visitors nor any need for coffee. A construction worker waiting for new materials.

    Work in general tends to be 20% real work and 80% just waiting. Or maybe 70-30% for some. Or 50-50% if you're in a real stressful job. But someone working 100% of the time between 9 to 5 will be dead due to stress within months...

     

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    eeyore, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    What's worse? the employee who spends five minutes playing solitaire at their desk, where they can get phone calls and email, or the one who spends thirty out back smoking where no one can find them. And the smokers make at least five or six and often ten or twelve trips to the smoking area every day. One morning I was in a meeting that lasted two hours and saw a pair of coworkers who were smoking buddies walk past the door four separate times to go smoke. Not a lot of employees smoke anymore, but god do that handful make up for it for the rest of us.

     

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    Wilson, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 6:52am

    Playing solitaire at work

    About your article on playing solitaire at work, a little is OK but playing 5+ out of 8 hours of work at a major aerospace company with government contracts with clearances is a bit much. When I challengen the employee he said it wasn't any of my business and threatened me. So I just let him play and management knows it. This is everyday at least for the last year that I know of. There is work to do, but ethics, integrity and intellect might play a roll.

     

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    Justaguy, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:47am

    Games & Skills

    Anyone who thinks playing a game teaches you computer skills such as learning how to point and click is a slacker looking for an excuse to get out of work.
    If you can't manage to point and click within the first 2 minutes of sitting down to the keyboard, you need to find another job. Come on people, it's not that hard.
    What to click on is another matter, but no game in the world is going to teach you what to click on to get your job done.
    I'd thought I'd heard it all...till I got here.

     

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    Justaguy, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:06am

    More games

    I wonder how many would really feel the same way about playing games at work if they owned the company.
    If you're having a bad day, buck up.
    What I'm hearing are the same excuses I've heard for why it's okay to have a beer at work, or a joint, or pop a few pills, etc.
    You get paid to work, you don't get paid to play games. I'm sure MOST job descriptions do not include a reference to getting paid to play games while at work. If you're a programmer then perhaps you get paid to program a game and playing it allows you to debug the game. Lucky you. The average person does not.
    While we're at it, let's just put some sleeping quarters in the back, too. We all get tired at work, right? Shouldn't we just be allowed to go take a nap and get paid for it?
    What the heck? I've had my eye on that little hottie over in the next cubical for some time now. We aren't tired but we sure could use those sleeping quarters for another reason. I mean, come on, after all, we're having a bad day...

     

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    Justaguy, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:44am

    Final Comments

    I guess we could blame all this on drugs. Or single parents. Or the gimme, do-me, buy-me generation.
    Just remember, do unto others before they get a chance to do unto you. Yell the loudest and the longest especially when you know you're wrong. God forbid you should be respectful or courteous, it's a sign of weakness. Someone or the government owes you something because you were born into this world?
    I have got to find me one of those jobs where my boss thinks that 3 out of 8 hours a day is a full day's work and he blesses me for showing up. And where slacking is a bonus - I have to get that included in my job description, too. I can't tell you guys how much I apprecitate all these great ideas to take to my next interview.

     

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    Justaguy, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 4:04am

    Can't resist one more

    I wonder if GM or Ford or everyone only made cars that ran consistently for 20 minutes out of every hour and was idle for the next 40, that'd be okay, right? And you could only get 70 mph when the car felt like it. That be okay, right? So what if some of you have leave a little early to get to work. And you might want to plan an extra day or two for travel for that next vacation. That'd be okay, right?

     

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    Cheli, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    It doesnt always interfere with productivity at all!

    Why does playing solitaire equate not doing ones job? As a receptionist....my ONLY job was to answer the phone, which rang maybe 1-2 dozen times a day....that accounts for 2-3 minutes of "work", it it werent for solitaire the other 7.9 hours of the day would consist of staring at the wall. Yet I was let go for playing solitaire between the calls...as though it somehow interfered with saying "goodmorning, what extension can I transfer you to?" a dozen times during the day? Sorry, but i don't NEED an employer that petty and anal!

     

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