No, Angry Birds Is Not Costing $1.5 Billion In Lost Productivity

from the can-we-get-the-mighty-eagle-to-smash-this-ridiculousness? dept

Every so often we hear various stories about how this or that online "thing" is "costing $x billions in lost productivity." For years it was "personal surfing" at work was costing billions. Then things like March Madness. Or even just "keeping up with the data stream." The latest killer of productivity? You guessed it. It's Angry Birds. Prisoner 201 sent in the news that people are now calculating the lost productivity from Angry Birds. Of course, in the past, most of these stories tended to come from companies (conveniently) selling filtering software. This time it just seems like some reporters looking for a story.

But, of course, this is ridiculous. While I have no doubt that there are some people who get sucked into playing Angry Birds and don't get their work done, that's an issue for that employer and that employee. It's not Angry Birds causing the lack of productivity. It's the employee. The bigger issue, of course, is the basic assumption here that hours equals productivity. If so, you could equally argue that commuting and sleeping are massive killers of productivity, because that's also time that is spent not working. While it does depend on the type of job, many jobs do not involve a constant level of productivity. In fact, many jobs have ebbs and flows of productivity, and that's a good thing. Letting someone play Angry Birds to clear their mind for a bit could, conceivably be good for productivity. What if they're struggling with a hard problem and working on it just isn't getting anything done... but taking a break and starting again clears things up?

Considering that other studies have shown that trusting your employees to do their jobs creates happier, more loyal and more productive workforces, perhaps we shouldn't be so worried about people playing Angry Birds, rather than going out for a smoke or hanging out at the water cooler. If they get their job done, they're productive.


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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:15am

    In psychology there is a phenomena called incubation. Sometimes indirect thought, where you're directly thinking about something else, helps you to better come back to and solve a problem.

     

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    MrWilson, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:20am

    It's just another instance of someone blaming the tool rather than the user.

    "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."

     

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    John Doe, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:20am

    All the lost productivity in the world would add up to more than the productive time

    I bet you if added up all the studies on lost productivity, you would find it far exceed the actual working hours in a year making you wonder how anything is getting done. Much like the fuzzy math used to prove losses to piracy.

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Newsflash: Toilet breaks are costing corporations $14 fantazillion. If employees want to use the toilet they first need to clock out.

     

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      MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:02am

      RE: clock out for bathroom breaks

      Some companies do this! I do think they are required by law to allow a certain amount of time for these breaks and I don't know how often, but you clock out and a timer starts for the allotted time, if you don't clock back in by the allotted time you are considered "clocked out" (not paid) until you return.

      I have seen warehouse/shipping facilities that have time clock readers at the restroom doors. A certain home improvement chain based in Wisconsin.

       

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      Terry, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:10am

      Re:

      well it would actually cost more, because you have to walk to the time-clock to first clock out the the toilet then back to the time-clock and back to the work area. Its so funny to read these articles blaming everything but the real problem. Start firing people and the other employees will realize companies aren't playing anymore, get to work or the next person in line gets the seat.

       

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    davebarnes (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Eating causes huge drop in productivity.

    Studies have shown (cf. Nazi concentration camps) that allowing workers to eat causes a drop in productivity. It makes more sense to just work them until they die. Replacements (cf. booming populations in certain parts of the world) are easy to come by.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Pshh...

    "No, Angry Birds Is Not Costing $1.5 Billion In Lost Productivity"

    Shit, if that were true imagine how much angry girlfriends is costing us....

     

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    PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:27am

    At a job I had many years ago, I noticed that trying to clamp down on "productivity killers" actually caused lower levels of productivity. No data to back this up of course, but picture the scene: an employee has a couple of "go-to" sites they use whenever they're feeling tired, stuck, unmotivated or burned out. They only spend a few minutes at a time, then get back to work, but their manager doesn't see it like that. They don't notice that the time "lost" is the same as a toilet break, a trip to the water cooler or a smoke break (in fact one of my pet hates used to be that, as a non-smoker, I used to get noticeably less breaks than those who did).

    So, he implements some kind of block. A web filter, maybe, or an implicit ban on personal browsing. So, two things happen. Some people obey, and they lose the refreshing element of the browsing, or maybe they now have more difficulty contacting family and so anything on their mind detracts from the job at hand. Alternatively, they object to the block and start searching either for ways around the block, or alternative sites they can use that don't get flagged up. Either way, productivity is lost by attempting to improve it!

    Of course, there are idiots who can't be bothered to do their work or honestly get distracted by Facebook, et al. I would personally argue that these are in the minority, and the issues are between them and their employer. IMHO, someone who is unproductive due to a game or site being available is a totally unmotivated employee who will just goof off in other ways. There's no point punishing an entire workforce because a handful of guys are lazy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      The problem here is you're looking at this in black and white -- either someone's productive or they're not. There are actually levels of productivity, and the point of the linked article, the point that's being missed, is that people could be more productive. If people could just focus for 8 hours straight, we'd get our full value out of their employment. As it is, part of the money we pay them is wasted on stuff like Angry Birds and smoke breaks. I like the idea of having employees clock out before going to the restroom -- the goal should be to get a full 40+ hours a week of pure, productive work out of them. Anything less is bad for the economy.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re:

        " If people could just focus for 8 hours straight, we'd get our full value out of their employment."

        That's ignoring studies suggesting that people are more productive when they mix in a little personal nonsense during that 8 hours. It's actually a simple math equation.

        8hrs. * xProductivity = Received Value

        or

        6hrs. * yProductivity = Received Value, where y = x*happiness multiplier

        If y is large enough to make 6 hrs. more productive than 8 with x, then you don't want people focusing for 8 straight hours...

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, I'm not ignoring anything, I just don't want to pay you for those 2 hours of goofing off. It's inefficient.

          I'm not unreasonable, I don't expect anyone to come in and sit for 8 hours. But do expect "personal" time to be personal, and if I'm paying you for 8 hours, I want a full 8 hours of work.

          If you come in at 9 and accumulate 2 hours of "personal nonsense," you shouldn't be going home before 7.

           

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            :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

            It's incompetent short-sighted assholes like you that make me hate, revile, detest modern corporate jobs.

            Hire yourself some robots and go work them (and yourself) to death--sparing the rest of us from the drivel you've accumulated thru your inability to comprehend how things really work.

            I'll bet you bought a DVD-Rewinder and have been pissed at the world ever since.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

              Thank you for the informative and well-thought-out comment, but I think you're the one being dangerously short-sighted. If I pay you, say, $40,000 a year that comes out to about $20 an hour, assuming a 40 hour work week and two weeks of vacation. We'll ignore the costs of sick days and other benefits for now.

              Assuming that, though, if you're only giving me 6 hours of work a day, I'm getting a 30 hour work week, not 40. That's a 25% difference which is HUGE -- if I was getting the full 40 hours I was paying for, I could afford to hire more employees and accomplish more as a business, and THAT is what gets the economy going.

              Your desire to goof off and get paid for it is the kind of short-sighted, lazy, entitle-ist attitude Tech Dirt usually argues AGAINST. If a guy to repair you roof, and he took three hours to do the work and then charged you for four hours you'd be furious. But that's what's happening to businesses EVERY DAY.

               

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                Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                I can't figure out why you care about the number of hours worked. The only true measure of value in an employee is bottom line productivity. If a guy that does some personal shit is more productive than his coworker who grinds away for 8 hours, and you have to fire one of them, which is it going to be?

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:46am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                  There's no such thing as "bottom line productivity." Productivity is output over time. Everyone, even salaried employees, are expected to account for their time, and it's on that basis that productivty can be measured. If you need two hours of zero productivity to give me 6 hours of "max" productivity that's fine -- but I'm not going to pay for the wasted time.

                  which is it going to be?

                  Depends on who's net is more valuable. If the first guy is excessively more expensive than his counterpart he's more of a liability than an asset, despite his burst-rate productivity.

                   

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                    The Logician (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:16am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    The fallacy in your thinking, AC 51, lies in believing that the only method of measuring payment is hourly. It is not. And that the amount of work available is constant on a consistent basis. That is not always the case.

                    For instance, I am a graphic designer who does layout and ad work for a set of free community newspapers. From home. Due to the nature of the work, I am not paid hourly, but per page for the layout, as well as an additional flat rate for ad work and maintaining the company website.

                    I check in, get my work for the day, do it, and check out. Either I'm given more or that's all there is. Since these papers are monthly, there is more work to be done toward the end of the month than at the beginning. Rarely will I ever have to put in a full eight hour day, aside from the last few days of the month, my average tends to be more toward five or six hours.

                    Even less in the first week of the month. Simply due to the amount of work that is available at that time. It would not then make sense to measure productivity by an eight hour, forty hour week timescale. Yet you insist that that is the only way to do so. That logic, however, is flawed.

                    The nature of working and how it is done is changing, and the cubicle-filled office complex is becoming far less relevant in an age where computers and technology make it possible to do most such jobs from home or, with a laptop, from anywhere else. If managers do not change and adapt, as corporations must also do, then like those who employ them, they will become obsolete and forgotten. Progress cannot be stopped. It can only be accepted.

                     

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                    Berenerd (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:37am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    Judging your statements, you have either too much schooling or not enough RL experience. In theory you are correct assuming the hours of work are consistent. Humans, by nature, are not consistent. Not even you, the so called manager, have your "personal" time. A few minutes here sipping your coffee, a few minutes there checking your bank statements, it is normal. Let me give you an example. I work in IT. My last contract had me reimaging computers. They were all unassisted but I had to sit there in case something screwed up so I would connect to my school (I am updating my certs and degree in security). My Boss saw that I was doing something else despite getting more work done in the day than he could give me (I was helping others finish their work cause I am a team player) but I had time to be doing papers and drill testing online still. he had me block the site so I wouldn't be "tempted". I did, he got no more work out of me until his boss came to me (BTW he was taking the same classes as me) asking why he couldn't get to the site any more. I was then invited to a meeting with my boss and his boss as to find out exactly why its wrong to mess with a good thing. He lasted about 6 more months and after falling short of his quotas he got removed from his job. He was the one slacking off coming to me wanting me to work harder, and his boss felt that was a horrid waste of his time and company pay.

                    Moral of the story is, if the worker is getting the job done, why bitch? If you feel their time is wasted, give them more to do, they will either leave and get a job elsewhere or work harder to get it done. So going by your statements, if you are so worried about what your employees are doing, how do YOU get your things done?

                     

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                    PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 2:22pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    "Productivity is output over time."

                    Somebody just outed themselves as a physicist or engineer. Productivity in business is output over payroll cost. The whole idea that you pay people for their hours is nonsense. (Outside of some cases where just being there is your job) You are paying people because you want them to make stuff for you. Let me put it this way:

                    You have a widget factory. Each widget is sold for $10 with 5$ of materials. Your employees are paid $10 per hour and they make 32 widgets per day. So you take in $320 of cash, pay $160 for material and $80 payroll for a total cost of goods sold of $240 per day per employee. You take home $80 per day per employee. (Forget capital costs, taxes et al for now) Everyone is happy. All is good, this is in fact within minor variation the way things work in the widget industry. But one day, a study comes out and you hear that OMG EMPLOYEES SPEND 2 HOURS PLAYING ANGRY BIRDS EVERY FREAKIN DAY! You of course know the answer. Those people work per hour and therefore, you say: clock out whenever you play angry-birds. They are honest people, so they do as you say. You still sell the same number of widgets, produce the same number of widgets but now, you pay out $20 less per worker per day. You take home $100 per worker per day now. Amazing! And then suddenly, you start finding your employees are leaving. I also produce widgets. In fact my business is identical to yours except I let my employees play Angry Birds 2 hours a day on company time. Boy am I stupid. You on the other hand know about the reserve army of the unemployed. But it turns out, when you interview people, you hear the same story. "I would have preferred to work for PrometheeFeu where they can play Angry Birds, but they wouldn't take me because I am too inexperienced/incompetent. But sure, I'll come and work for you." Of course, I didn't hire those people! They only make 24 widgets per day. So now, you are taking in $240 in cash, spending $125 in material and still $60 in labor for a profit of $55 per day per employee so now you are not "wasting" any money, but you are also making much less of it.

                    Of course, the numbers could change differently but the point is, the market has the equilibrium it has for a reason. The fact that employees can play Angry Birds, comment on TechDirt etc is part if their compensation package. It may not be written, it may not be official, but it is true. I work at a company that has a number of amenities. None of those are written in the contract, but if they removed said amenities, some of us might go work for competitors who still provide free lunches, pool tables and snacks. And this is the case at all levels. Your boss not being a jerk to you is compensation. Your bathroom breaks being on company time is compensation. If you think you can lower compensation without consequences, you are mistaken.

                     

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:29am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                Why are you measuring productivity in hours worked instead of actual output?

                Also why are you on Techdirt in the middle of the work day? Your employer must hate paying you for this goofing off.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:43am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                  To be more accurate, productivity is a measure of output over time, and when we're talking about maximizing productivity, we're REALLY talking about maximizing both output and time. Time should be a constant -- I hire you for 8 hours of work and you work 8 hours. As we're seeing here, it's not because people goof off. While goofing off may improve future output, we need to make up for that wasted time. That's why I'm talking in terms of hours, because that's the figure everyone's dancing around.

                  Also why are you on Techdirt in the middle of the work day?

                  I can only fill so many cracks in this facade.

                   

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                    Any Mouse (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:54am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    Yeah, all right. But you still failed to answer the question. Who would you fire? The person who goofs off for 2 hours but does more work, or the person who works for 8 hours? You aren't getting the point. At all.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:00am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                      I think this is meant to be up under DH's thread? And I am getting precicely to the point -- you fire the less valuable employee. If Emplyee A and B (respectively from DH's comment) can be said to have "productivity scores" of 2X and X but are paid at a rate of 10Y and Y, then Employee A may be more productive but is not more valuable. He is a net liability because he costs so much compared to the value he provides the company.

                       

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                        MrWilson, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 11:11am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                        If you're paying one employee ten times more than a comparable employee, you really shouldn't be a manager.

                         

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                        Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 10:33am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                        Lets just keep removing these variables, Two employee's Hired on the same day, for the same job, building the same widget at identical work stations. Employee A works hard for 6 hours a day and does personal stuff for 2 hours of the day, but Still outputs 100 widgets per day. Employee B works all 8 hours a day, and only produces 75 widgets per day (for whatever reason, fatigue, not happy at his job, etc).

                        Who are you going to fire?

                         

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                          ComputerAddict (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 10:35am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                          Sorry, I should also have mentioned, for the same hourly rate of pay.

                           

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                    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:28am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    "I can only fill so many cracks in this facade."

                    Heh. I was kinda wondering about that.

                     

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                    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:27pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                    Except if you pay me on salary you're not hiring me for 8 hours of work, you're hiring me for an expected amount of work. If you want to hire me for hours of work, pay me hourly.

                     

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                ChrisB (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:35am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                > If I pay you, say, $40,000 a year that comes out to
                > about $20 an hour,

                Thats the wrong way to look at it. Salaries are expressed yearly precisely because they are _not_ hourly. If you want an hourly employee, hire them hourly (with the applicable overtime costs, etc.) Then if you find them goofing off, you can not pay them for that hour. But a salaried employee is expected to put in the hours to get the job done. A better way to evaluate an employee is not to micromanage his hours but to see if he's getting his work done.

                > If a guy to repair you roof,

                Most work like this is fixed price, so if he goofs off for an hour, it is on his dime, because he could be doing other jobs. If you are hiring a roofing guy hourly, you're doing it wrong.

                 

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 8:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Igor, throw the lever!

                Be thankful that you don't work in government....

                "Managers" are lucky to get 10-15 hours of productivity per week out of their employees, of course they are too busy playing angry birds to notice....

                 

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            Jay (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Have you seen my stapler?

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The jobs I had that I hated most were the ones where management dragged me away from MY JOB to attend some ridiculous meeting about productivity and/or associated bullshit that ultimately had no point except to WASTE MY TIME. Time better spent getting my job done. This type of management inspired resentment.

            My fondest recollections were places where work came first, but ease of coworker interactions made work a shared goal, the more work done the better, we weren't interfered with, we weren't dragged away for lectures, we weren't punished for having a laugh while we busted our butts. This type of managment inspired loyalty.

            You cannot take the human element out of a workspace. You have to take the good and foster it to overcome or excise the bad.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Management by meetings is a failure, and it's recognized that employees can be more productive when they have opportunities to decompress, but I'm not sure how either of those justifies paying for 8 hours and getting 6.

               

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                freak (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Then pay me by salary, so you can start caring about the work done.

                Obviously, you're focusing on the wrong measurement here.


                Let's put it in perspective.
                1)Waiter at a restaurant. No customers all day, except for the 11-1 period. He was there 8 hours, he 'worked' for 2. How much is it fair to pay him?
                2)We have two office workers, Wally and Dilbert. Wally does his work slowly, almost at an invisible pace, but not quite. Dilbert does his work quickly. Unknown to them, you've given them identical assignments because you want to be able to pick from different solutions. They come up with the exact same answer in the end, but Wally works 16 hours, over two days, and Dilbert works 6. As it happens, they ARE paid on salary, on an 8 hour/day assumption. Is Dilbert or Wally the better worker?

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  If you can give me a meaningful metric on "the work done" then we can have that discussion; until then I'll have to stick with hourly rates, the way everyone else in the world does.

                  1) It depernds on how his employment agreement is laid out. Presumably, he's paid to be available to serve, and so he "worked" for the full 8 hours. Presumably, this is why they get tips. presumably this is also why they get lower pay rates.

                  2) There's not nearly enough information to answer that question, and it's certainly not going to show anything meaningful. Are you trying to say Wally and Dilbert are paid the same rate? If so, and if one CAN be said to be "better", either their employer is a fool or the "better" employee is, for not negotiating a compensation commensurate with his value.

                   

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                    freak (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:12am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    So, you're dodging question 2 instead of answering?
                    Alright, forget pay rates, and just talk about which employee is better, and deserves to be paid more.


                    But hey, at least you didn't fall into the trap of question 1 too deeply. You identified correctly what he's paid for, being available to serve. And then you slipped backwards from there . . .

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:15am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Who deserves to be paid more? There's a lot more nuance to it than that -- is it ALWAYS the case that Dilbert and Wally come to the same answer? Or, though he's slower, does Wally have insights that Dilbert misses? Speed isn't the only consideration.

                       

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                        Berenerd (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:46am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Ok so work put out over time as you keep harping on is not actually the only thing? welcome to the conversation and honestly, answer the question.

                         

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            PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This actually exposes a failure of yours - equating time and productivity. There are people who spend 10 hours doing the work I can do in 6. I cannot work at that pace for 10 hours, however, so either you accept that my 7 hours productivity with breaks for leisure, or I do the 6 hours productivity over the timescale you suggest. You can't force me to do more, especially as I already realise I'm better value and more productive than the 10 hour dead weight guy.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Then you should negotiate for a 6-hour work day and not waste my time. If you agree to an 10 hour day (as is your example) why am I at fault when you can't deliver?

               

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                freak (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Not paying attention, are you?

                Paul can work a 7 hour day, with breaks, or he can work a 10 hour day, without breaks, and get the same work done.

                He can't work a 6 hour day, and do all the work, without breaks.

                The question is: Would you rather pay him for 10 hours, or 7 hours to do the same work?

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:03am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  And my answer is and remains: I will pay you for 6 hours of work because you've done six hours of work, whethet it's over a period of 7 hours or not. What Paul said was he's only getting 6 hours of work whether he's there for 7 hours or he's there for 10 hours.

                  either you accept that my 7 hours productivity with breaks for leisure, or I do the 6 hours productivity over the [10 hours]

                   

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                    freak (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:17am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Yeah, I'm done trolling for the day.

                    I was hoping to elicit a few more strawmen against you, TBH, and I'm not having that effect.


                    Nice use of apparent measurements, though. Someone who didn't realize they were using '6 hours of work' as a measurement against an equivalent '10 hours of work' would've tripped up by now ;p
                    You're effectively saying that you'll pay someone for the work they've done, regardless of the hours they work.

                     

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                  PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 3:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Yes, you appear (deliberately, no doubt) to have misinterpreted my original point.

                  That is, if I can do the same work in 6 hours as my colleague can do in 10, then my 7 hours of work is worth more than his 10. Yet, you insist that his 10 is worth more. If you can't tell the difference, you're a poor manager.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 7:19am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Point of fact, I never said his ten is worth more, just that if he worked for 10 hours he should get paid for 10 hours, and if you worked for 6 hours you should be paid for 6. The rate you're paid for those six hours or he for his 10 is when questions of "worth" come in.

                     

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                      PaulT (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 7:39am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Yes, if the job is paid hourly. But, hourly employees get paid for the hours they work, not their productivity. If I can stretch the job that would usually take me 6 hours out to 10 hours and take an extra 4 hours pay for the same job, you're damn right I'll do that. Net loss to you, but I won't care.

                      If the job is salaried, then the issue becomes one of productivity. In my example, at 6 hours, I'm equally as productive as the 10 hour guy. If I work 7, I'm more productive. Yet, if I dare to spend some of that 3 hours I've saved for leisure time, you tell me I'm losing you productivity, or that my efficiency should result in a pay cut?

                      You have a skewed viewpoint, and you're probably demotivating or losing your best staff if you're in a management position with that attitude.

                       

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                Any Mouse (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Then I'll just drag ass for that 10 hours. No skin off my back. It's your dime at that point, but you don't get it.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:05am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  And you will be paid accordingly. I don't see what's so hard about that; I never said that I'd pay a diligent worker and a slouch at the same rate, just that I expect the hours paid for to be "work hours" not "goof-off hours."

                   

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                    MrWilson, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 11:29am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Think of it this way. Would you consider the prep work that a chef does to before they start actually cooking food to be work or goofing off? It's clearly work. You have to cut the food to the right proportions and clean it, etc. before you can start cooking.

                    Employees "goofing off" for short amounts of time is much like the chef's prep work. They're preparing themselves to be able to do their work. They are not machines, but even if they were, machines still need maintenance to be able to maintain optimal levels of productivity.

                     

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                      PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 3:44pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      A good point, which is why Senor Corporate Shill will never answer. That's why they never log in - if they get caught out on a lie, they feign innocence in the next thread...

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 4:04am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        1. I didn't reply because I went home for the day; I only come to TechDirt on copmpany time.

                        2. It was a very good point, one of the best responses I got on this troll; I applaud MrWilson

                        3. I don't log in when I troll because that gives the game away.

                        4. Really, don't believe much of what I said in this thread at all.

                         

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                PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 3:48pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You sound like an atrocious employer. I've told you I can do the job of a 10 hr/day employee in just 6 hrs, and I'm willing to put in an hour more to exceed his productivity. Your answer is to say you need more hours on an artificial clock? No wonder you fail.

                 

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            PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The hourly rate is confusing you. The reason why you hire people is not to staff desks, chairs, etc for 8 hrs a day just 'cause. It is to get something done. The only valuable measure of productivity is how much work gets accomplished vs how much money you are spending on payroll. So instead of complaining that you are paying for 8 hrs of work and only getting 6, look at it as: Is the amount of money you are making from the employee's work greater than the amount of money you are spending on them? If yes, then you have a productive employee. If not, then you do not have a productive employee.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              And you're missing my opening point: employees can be more productive, and we should strive to maximize productivity. This can be done by maximizing output (the "how much work gets accomplished") and the time spent working (the time spent actually producing output). Productivity is a rate, and thus time has meaning. If you get twice as much done in half the time then you can get 4 times as much done in the same amount of time; not doing so is wasteful (to the extent that doing so is possible).

               

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                The eejit (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 12:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                oh, my God. You've actually broken the Turing test. I literally cannot tell if you're a computer designed to say the same thing, or a person who actually believes this.

                I will quite happily do your job, for the same pay, and get more work done in the same actual time while appearing to do less. I will be a more productive employee while appearing to do less. I will work identical hours for identical pay, and get more done in less time spent on tasks, while spending the same apparent amount of time.

                 

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                PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:57pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Actually employees get increasing marginal costs on work. (just like everyone) So if you boost the amount of time you want your employees focused, you had better start paying more.

                 

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            Squidward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            mr krabs quit trolling the forums and "get back to work!"

             

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            apatura, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 11:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I would NEVER work for you with those policies. That's old school thinking and it doesn't work.

             

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        MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re:

        F**K YOU.

         

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        PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        Hmmm... a little contradiction here, I feel?

        "There are actually levels of productivity"

        Agreed, no human being can be "on" for extended periods of time.

        "the goal should be to get a full 40+ hours a week of pure, productive work out of them"

        But, what kind of productivity? I know I've had jobs where I've slacked off and gotten the same productivity as colleagues working full tilt. There's also such a thing as burnout, which usually happens when people work full on for the entirety of their shift.

        In my experience, the best productivity comes when people who are able to balance low & high periods of productivity are allowed to do so. Those who cannot do so might well need to be blocked, disciplined or something else, but doing to everybody is counterproductive in the extreme. In fact, people who prefer to spend time on Facebook or wandering around with pieces of paper might be a sign of a problem with your management style or low morale rather than an employee needing punishment...

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I haven't said anything about punishment. I'm talking about being due the service I've paid for. If you're more productive than your coworkers then you should reasonably expect (and negotiate) a better compensation package, but that doesn't excuse slacking off on your end just because others "working full tilt" produce less. And as I've observed, no one can be "on" the whole time, but why should I be expect to pay you when you're "off"? People talk about how commuting and sleeping "reduce productivity" -- that's fine, I'm not paying you when you sleep.

          If you need 2 hours "off" out of every 8 hours "on" then you should be at work for 10 hours to satisfy your end of the employment agreement, that's all.

           

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            PaulT (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "I'm talking about being due the service I've paid for"

            ...but what are you paying for? Productivity or hours worked? They don't necessarily equate to one another. Your need to equate the two suggests a poor management technique.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Productivity is a rate of output over time. So I'm paying for productivity, but time is a meaningful factor.

               

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                The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:20pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Actually, if you're paying based on hours, you're paying someone for arriving on time (clocking in) and not leaving before the appropriate time (clocking out). So, if the employer spends 10 hours playing angry birds, or 10 hours rearranging Excel worksheets, you're getting your moneys worth: the amount of hours that the employee was at the company.

                So no, you're not "losing productivity" if the employee goofs off. You're paying him to be at work, not to do work.

                Whether you think it's a good investment or not has nothing to do with whether he missed work or didn't (since the only measure of that is that he clocked in and out, therefore he didn't miss work).

                 

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                  The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Note that I know you're being sarcasting (I knew after the first 3 or 4 posts), but I think this is relevant to the point you're making.

                   

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            apatura, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 12:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            LOL!! at so many of your comments.

            1) "I'm talking about being due the service I've paid for." Well, well, "Anonymous Coward" (i think that name is quite fitting btw) it doesn't sound like you've ever been in a position of authority or a boss, supervisor, etc. What are you paying someone DIRECTLY as you watch them shovel a ditch? That's the way you make it sound.

            2) "If you're more productive than your coworkers then you should reasonably expect (and negotiate) a better compensation package" HAHAHA this one just shows that you have no idea what industry is like. You can't just one day up and say "Well, I'm better than everyone here so I'm going down to HR and demanding more money!" LOLOLOLOLOL to your ignorance!

            3) "why should I be expect to pay you when you're "off"? People talk about how commuting and sleeping "reduce productivity" -- that's fine, I'm not paying you when you sleep." NOBODY pays ANYONE when they sleep!! This again shows you have NO IDEA what industry is like - all the people on here are saying is that commuting makes you tired/fatigued and is a waste of time. Of course there is not much of a commute to the graveyard to dig a ditch while YOU watch over them and pay them out of your pocket (which is what you make it sound like). L.O.L.

            4) "If you need 2 hours "off" out of every 8 hours "on" then you should be at work for 10 hours to satisfy your end of the employment agreement, that's all." LOL! LOL! "your end of the employment agreement" - No employment agreement says ANYTHING like that. No employment agreement says you HAVE to be productive. Being productive is an option. If you don't meet your numbers (or dig the ditch fast enough in your case) you'll get some figurehead supervisor asking you "is everything ok?" And you say yeah and on and on it goes. Depends on the company's procedures, but usually it is VERY HARD to get fired from a place - you kinda have to be a total tool to get fired from anywhere, seriously. And they don't want to fire you because then they have to pay a portion of your unemployment insurance. Don't know if one could apply for unemployment insurance after digging a ditch for you under the table (since YOU are paying them directly from your pocket and all).

            Are you even employed by the way? B/c it doesnt sound like you've ever worked a day in your life.

            Good day to all.

             

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    Vincent Clement (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:27am

    It's managers and supervisors who are unable to manage and supervise that are "costing $1.5 billion in lost productivity".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:27am

    If they get their job done, they're productive.

    But they could be more productive! We need to wring every last drop of productivity out of them, or we're leaving money on the table!

     

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:44am

      Re:

      Perhaps you are leaving money on the table. Or perhaps when you introduce clocking out to go to the bathroom, web filter blocks and start hiring more people to make sure you are getting your full hours work, your employees will realize they don't like working for you and will go work for a competitor.

      I don't know what industry you are in, but I work in software. And in software, the companies that get the best engineers are the companies that pay well, but also and perhaps more importantly give their employees a pleasant work environment where people don't constantly stand over their shoulder making sure they are not day-dreaming, reading TechDirt or playing Angry Birds.

       

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      Any Mouse (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      NOW I get it. Pure trollish sarc in there, huh? Haha.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, my first snipe got burried under the rest of the comments.

         

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          Any Mouse (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          10/10, sir. If I got it first, there's something terribly wrong.

           

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          apatura, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 12:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's "buried" by the way. And yes, so many people commented on your nonsense because it is, well...nonsense. People had to correct you. From what I read, you've been corrected enough by people with real industry experience. The most profitable and innovative companies are those that have a lot of freedom surrounding their jobs (e.g., Google). Get back on this site when you graduate college (as one suggested maybe you are still in "studying" mode lol) and get a few years in the REAL world. Well, maybe this site won't be around by then. But you know what I mean.

          Good day to all.

           

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Back in the day...

    They used to scaremonger this crap about "employee phone calls are costing $x of productivity!"

    That was before the cell phone... after the telegraph; not real sure on the time aside from that.

     

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    Planespotter (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:29am

    What about the many companies that provide rest rooms with pool, snooker, ping pong tables, arcade machines, tablets loaded with games, free fizzy drinks and snack machines that can be used at any time... how much is lost to those businesses?

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Commuting wastes far more time...

    ...and uses energy, and emits pollutants, and exposes commuters to increased risk, and clogs up the roads for non-commuters, and requires increased expenditures on road maintenance, emergency services, etc., and requires increased expenditures on mass transit, and requires having a place to commute to, which in turn means incurring construction/rental expenses, and requires (modulo public transit) parking facilities, and and and...

    Yet how many companies that would not even exist were it not for the Internet have 100% telecommuting policies? How many have done everything they possibly can to avoid wasting money and time on offices, and have instead leveraged the very technology that facilitates their existence to operate themselves? How many have been able to recognize that if they really want to hire the best and the brightest, then they have to fully embrace the live-anywhere work-anywhere paradigm?

    The answers to all those questions are, sadly, "not many". And the people responsible for that sorry state of affairs are the managers and corporate officers whose lack of vision is FAR more of a drag on the economy than the small minority of workers who will goof off no matter what the enviroment, no matter what the available set of distractions.

     

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:56am

      Re: Commuting wastes far more time...

      To be fair, telecommuting can be sub-optimal even as an engineer. When I have a tough problem to crack, nothing replaces working with a co-worker face-to-face. Sure, lots can be done over video-conference, phone, chat, etc. But you still get more channels of communication in person.

       

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        Rich Kulawiec, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: Commuting wastes far more time...

        Your point is a good one, and I recognize that it applies in a great many situations.

        However: doesn't this argue that we should be hard at work developing technologies solve the problem that "nothing replaces working with a co-worker face-to-face"? Shouldn't we be trying to figure out why this gap exists, how it might best be addressed, and then running some experiments to find out if our approaches are viable?

        My guess, by the way, is that this is more of an engineering problem than scientific one -- that is, I think the underlying technical issues have already been solved. We just need to figure out how to integrate the technolgy with our workflow so that it helps us rather than getting in the way. That's partially a task for technologists, but it's also a task for psychologists and others, who need to help us figure out how to work seamlessly with colleagues on three continents.

         

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          PrometheeFeu (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Commuting wastes far more time...

          I agree. Well, I would put it differently. I think it's a product problem and a familiarity problem. Even those of us who are intense computer users still spend inordinate amounts of time interacting with real people face to face. As a result, there are just many things that we are all used to which fail in the computer world. When explaining something fails, I can escalate the number of channels in use. I can start gesturing, drawing, moving little objects around etc. It's really hard to give that flexible of an interface to a computer.

           

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    Lord Binky, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:01am

    You know what costs productivity?

    I'll tell you what. I bet it is anything involving tiny lights that oh shi

     

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      Lord Binky, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:09am

      Re: You know what costs productivity?

      Sorry, just smelt a pot luck going on and had to scavenge. Anyways, back to my point. I uh.. nevermind I'm just going to stuff my face with free food at work and grease up my smartphone playing angry birds while making private phone calls.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Polling the wrong audience here: the NON-productive.

    Of course you guys are going to scoff. You live in the leisured West, now declining in "productivity" however measured. Meanwhile Chinese slaves are driven to work 12 hours a day making Ipads and other gadgets. Since you don't see that, you don't care, you just think that you're working hard and not actually living off slave labor. But you just had good luck to be born in a rich and more fair society, you haven't earned it. By the way, Chinese at Foxconn making Ipads DO save commute time, live in barracks on-site.

     

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    jimbo, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:06am

    dont worry. once the lobbyists have finished, Angry Birds has been deemed a 'rogue application' and players are sued for 'copyright infringement', regardless of whether they have paid for it or not, or whether they are playing the game in their own time or not, things will get back to normal. the boost to the economy will be tremendous!

    [sarcasm]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:10am

    All this reminds me of the boss that works long hours and all the employees stay long hours to put in the face time. Even though the 'after hours' time is just spent doing nothing but burning the employees out.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:14am

    I wonder how much the mythical valuations of the companies slip as result of Angry Birds? I mean, if you are going to blame "patent trolls" for some sort of mythical loss, perhaps the birds are on the same level.

     

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    MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

    I know everyone can't be so fortunate but most human workers would be far happier being compensated for what they do vs. how much of it. I guess "piece work" is fine if there is easily weighed metrics for the "pieces" (F.E. assembly, or manufacturing, or splitting logs, whatever) But intellectual work is not easily weighed "per piece" you don't have the same control over item units per time units.

    Furthermore I get really angry when I complete my assigned tasks on time or ahead of schedule and my reward is MORE WORK. If I complete my assignment as asked I deserve a break or more compensation.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:22am

      Re: Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

      If I complete my assignment as asked

      No. If you've done the job you were hired for you don't deserve more compensation.

      The agreement was you do X and I pay you Y, but now you're saying, "I did X like I said I would, so you should give me Y+Z." That's absolutely nonsensicle.

       

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        Any Mouse (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re: Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

        The agreement was I do X (which I did) and you pay me Y (which you did), but you want me to do X+Z for Y. That is just as nonsensicle. Which isn't even a word. It's 'nonsensical'. See? I just increased your productivity by proofing for free.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 4:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

          I was responding to "If I complete my assignment as asked I deserve ... more compensation." This is sepparate from my comments above asking for a full 8 hours of work. Thank you for the correct spelling of "nonsensical." That one always gets me.

           

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        Bryan O'Doyle, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

        Where can I buy some nonsense on a stick? are there many flavours available? Or was that commenter being nonsensical? Not that I don't love a neologism as much as the next guy :)

         

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          Bryan O'Doyle, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Judge me on *WHAT* I do not how much of it.

          public note to self: read comments threaded before having fun with spelling! :}

           

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    Robert Ring, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:19am

    The article's logic also assumes that if Angry Birds didn't exist, people wouldn't be "wasting" their time on anything else.

     

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    monkyyy, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:25am

    i like how that u can find some random stats, do some maths to them and publish them as fact

     

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    DOlz (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 9:26am

    404 Page not found

    Mike, just to let you know I tried to link through to the article at CNNMoney.com and apparently it is no longer available.

     

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    Cloksin (profile), Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:02am

    But they're birds!!

    They're F***ing BIRDS!!!! What the hell do they need a slingshot for?

     

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    where i play angry birds, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:02am

    is the same place I poop. No extra lost productivity there.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 10:40am

    I've worked myself out of a job.

    When I was a network guy, I built (and rebuilt) a network that spanned ~100 locations in California. I did it with passion, learning as I went, and spending hours of my own time studying to get it right. I did, more or less, and the network was indeed so stable they took it away from me based on inside politics, because any jack@ss can maintain a stable network.

    So now I do my work, and play as hard as I can otherwise. Corporate America doesn't care if I live or die, or whether I put passion into my work.

    I'll do what I can get away with, and as long as I can live with myself, so be it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Mike I love how you always spin articles your way. Why the hell aren't you a politician? You could be president in 6 years.

     

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    Anonymous American, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Sure, I can smash my face into a problem again and again and get results; I can also (electronically) step away and talk with a friend or two on Facebook, come back in fifteen minutes, look at the same problem and go, "Oh. Forgot to carry the two."

    My "fucking off" time at work is wonderfully productive. At one job, I spent a day "not doing the job I was paid to do". This "being unproductive" let me learn the basics of a new scripting language and I managed to leverage that (also "unproductively") into being able to double my total productivity with what I learned within a year.

    So yes, please restrict MSN chat and web site browsing because they're not "productive" uses of time. You're just cutting away the tools you may need me to develop - and if you've done this and I find cool toys to make your company work more efficiently, you won't get them.

    IT is a knowledge-based industry. Let the people you've hired use the knowledge.

     

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    MAC, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Lost productivity...

    Robots, replace everyone with robots...

     

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    MAC, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Robots...

    Don't forget the robots that you need to play Angry Birds!

     

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    teknosapien, Sep 21st, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Yup It is

    I know my 3 year old gets a lot less work done because of it

     

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    Bob Webster (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 4:46pm

    Angry Birder

    Angry Birds will save us a lot more than $1.5 billion if we can get members of Congress to spend their time on it.

     

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    Water Coolers Brisbane, Apr 30th, 2012 @ 4:16am

    Water Coolers Brisbane

    You are absolutely right. “Angry Birds” are not the cause of lack in productivity. The main reason behind this lack is employee himself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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