Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

On Point On Slacking 524

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-listen-to dept.
Wellington Grey writes "This week the NPR show On Point has an excellent episode exploring slacking and the American work ethic. (note that it's audio) It touches on some issues that may be of interest to geeks such as outsourcing, the church of the subgenius and the eternal conflict between wanting to be a lazy bum and wanting to work hard. What do slashdotters think: does America need more slack or more work?" It is summer vacation after all, right?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

On Point On Slacking

Comments Filter:
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:02PM (#15436713)
    What do slashdotters think: does America need more slack or more work?

    Hmmm. Which category does slashdot fit into? That's what I thought...
    • Hmmm. Which category does slashdot fit into? That's what I thought...
      Depending on your line of work, Slashdot can contain a lot of work-related information: software reviews, security notices, polls on whether ninjas could defeat monkey robots... It's all very pertinent to my daily job functions.
      • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:16PM (#15436886)
        You keep telling yourself that... : p

        j/k. I fully realize that slashdot can actually be a valuable asset at times. I mean, today alone I've learned that my company shouldn't install a giant glass elevator, that including a BluRay drive in the PS3 may not have been such a good move, and that the PirateBay was shut down. I'm expecting a nice bonus when I write the summary up for my boss...
      • That's what our last JR developer kept saying to us when we'd pull up his usage logs, until we pulled up his code checkin logs that were all but empty and showed him the door.

        Balance balance balance. Why must everything be black and white, nothing is that simple!
        • by computational super (740265) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:52PM (#15437854)

          Dude, where do you work? I'm sure there's lots of people who'd jump at the chance to take advantage of an employer naive enough to measure productivity in terms of commit logs.

          ------------------
          revision 1.1
          date: 2006/05/31 08:00:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +542 -334
          Reformatting file
          ------------------
          revision 1.2
          date: 2006/05/31 08:05:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +542 -334
          Convert tabs to spaces
          ------------------
          revision 1.3
          date: 2006/05/31 08:10:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +542 -334
          Convert spaces back to tabs
          ------------------
          revision 1.4
          date: 2006/05/31 08:15:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +319 -243
          Moved curly braces onto same line as function declaration
          ------------------
          revision 1.5
          date: 2006/05/31 08:20:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +319 -243
          Moved curly braces onto next line from function declaration
          ------------------
          revision 1.6
          date: 2006/05/31 08:25:00; author: compsupnrd; state: Exp; lines +542 -334
          Revert to original formatting

          I guess I'd have to be careful, though - I might end up being so productive I get promoted.

    • Yeah, they should call it Slackdot.
    • I would have made that exact same first post, but, you know,...
  • That this even is being asked illustrates a very serious problem in this country. We are a nation of slobs and lazy asses.

    I say this WHILE posting to slashdot. :D
    • Europeans (Score:5, Interesting)

      by digitalamish (449285) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:05PM (#15436755)
      Funny, but I am in the process of trying to figure out how to schedule the work I need to get done this summer around my european counterparts 8 weeks of vacation. Eight weeks, not including holidays! Funny, they never get labeled as lazy.
      • Funny, but I am in the process of trying to figure out how to schedule the work I need to get done this summer around my european counterparts 8 weeks of vacation. Eight weeks, not including holidays! Funny, they never get labeled as lazy.

        That's because, as a rule, european folk have enough problems that most people see no point in highlighting yet another.

        Again, :D ( -- I am officially renaming this smily as the "Shit eating grin" )
      • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GeckoX (259575) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:23PM (#15436956)
        Gotta move over there or something.

        I've managed to scratch my way up to 5 weeks of vacation over the years. I've had that for 2 years now. Sounds great right? Yeah, if I could actually freaking take them. You try taking 5 weeks throughout the year when your stupid manager only gets 3. It's pretty easy to see that time slip through your finger tips. Sure, you must get compensated, but I don't want an extra 2 weeks of pay that just gets taken in taxes fer christ sakes!

        We absolutely work too hard. I'd be more inclined to be happy with very little time off if I was responsible for saving peoples lives every day. But when I do this to line some assholes wallet? Is it worth it? HELL NO!!! The problem is, it sure beats the lines down at the soup kitchen.

        bloody f'ing capatalist society.
        • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:58PM (#15437329) Homepage
          I've managed to scratch my way up to 5 weeks of vacation over the years. I've had that for 2 years now. Sounds great right? Yeah, if I could actually freaking take them

          My company recently instituded a use-it or lose-it policy wrt vactions. We used to be able to carry over past the fiscal year, now we can't.

          Now, at the start of the fiscal year, we file a plan for the next 6months, and file a second one half way through the fiscal year that leaves us at zero balance by end of fiscal year.

          I'm taken a 'screw you' policy -- if I've booked vacation (because they made me) and they won't allow me to carry it over, their deadlines are their problems.

          Admittedly, they can and do give special permission in a few cases to carry over. But if I had to book it 6 months in advance, and I actually scheduled/paid for something, I take the position that if you hadn't forced me to book it so long ago, I wouldn't have paid for it and be on the hook for it.

          It's a stupid policy, but I'm happy to make them die by their own sword as it were. "Oh, sorry, I've got a flight booked, you should schedule your deadlines when I schedule my vacation. You've known for months I wouldn't be here."

          Take your vacation. It's good for you.
          • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GeckoX (259575) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:02PM (#15437360)
            Absolutely. And I do take my vacation whenever I can.

            This last year though, it was my 2 weeks over christmas that got pissed away, not a planned booked trip to hawaii or anything. Point to note, and for my own ref in the future: The company has NO FUCKING BUSINESS knowing WHAT I do with my time off. It doesn't matter whether I've got a flight booked, or am spending 2 weeks at home with my family, but they WILL take advantage of a perceived difference if given half a chance.

            Trust me, next time they ship late, and it's their own fucking problem, NOT mine.
        • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pla (258480) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:33PM (#15437671) Journal
          You try taking 5 weeks throughout the year when your stupid manager only gets 3.

          A simple solution to that "problem" exists, which I've personally used for years (I don't get five weeks, but I don't really want more than one or two full-week vacations per year anyway) - First, allocate the time you specifically want; Then, set aside two or three days as "emergency sanity vacations" to use whenever; Next, literally throw darts at a calendar to pick another five or so random days (sounds stupid, but when you hit one, you will enjoy those random days more than just about any other holiday or vacation time you will ever take); finally, counting back from the end of the year, take every Monday (or Wednesday if you prefer a mid-week-mini-weekend) off to use up the rest.

          IT managers frequently can't live without certain people for weeks at a time, but it takes a lot of damned gall to refuse you one day per week (even if it takes you three months of four-day weeks to use them all up).

          Personally, I have the career goal of someday getting 10 weeks of vacation, so I can make every week a four-day week (which, since most companies give 60-80hrs of holidays usually falling on a Monday or Friday, will still leave me my full one or two weeks to take "long" vacations).

          Not gonna hold my breath, though. And in IT, if I managed to get all 4-day weeks, that means I'd only end up working around 40hrs per week. ;-)
      • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:23PM (#15436961) Homepage
        My friend just got back from a 10 day business trip in China, and he had one piece of advice:

        "Learn to speak chinese, because these people are going to take over the world!"

        It's not the Europeans we have to worry about, it's the Chinese and the Indians (from India, not the reservation!) that are going to rule the world.

        They aren't "held back" by the same morality and environmental issues we are. When they want to build the largest dam in the world (which is an engineering marvel that will put out as much electricity as 15 nuclear power plants combined), they just do it, and don't worry about the environmental, social, or historical implications.

        China has 35 people for every one of ours, so they could invade with nothing but chopsticks and probably win. But they also have huge natural resources and are progressing very, very fast. Their navy will be as big as ours by 2012 (though not as advanced).

        Be afraid, be very afraid. (I say that only partly in jest)

        Oh, yeah, and they're bringing the bird flu with them... :}

        • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Interesting)

          by no reason to be here (218628) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:35PM (#15437102) Homepage
          They aren't "held back" by the same morality and environmental issues we are. When they want to build the largest dam in the world (which is an engineering marvel that will put out as much electricity as 15 nuclear power plants combined), they just do it, and don't worry about the environmental, social, or historical implications.

          It's exactly that type of attitude that will keep them from succeeding. They cannot continue to abuse their native population without reprecussion. There WILL be an uprising, which will cause more than enough instability to take them down a few rungs of the super power ladder. It might not happen tomorrow, or even in the next decade, but it will happen.

          The environmental problems, well, that partly goes along with abusing the population. The people will get tired of having to blow all of the soot out of their nose first thing in the morning; people will continue to get pissed when they're forced to move because a regions about to be flooded by a huge hydro-elctric dam. And sooner or later, some big project is going to result in some sort of ecological disaster which the gov't there won't be able to cover-up and ignore.

          Of course, regardless of what happens in China and India, the US is going down the tubes.
          • Re:Europeans (Score:3, Insightful)

            by darkmeridian (119044)
            China is experiencing the cultural evolution every developing nation goes through on its way to industrialization. Early American government, though founded as a democratic republic, fell into some disarray with the Alien Sedition Act. The Civil War was fought over the slavery of a race of humans dragged here in chains merely because they were black. With the Industrial Revolution came child labor and exploitation of the poor. Secrets were kept during the Cold War by assertion of national security. Big comp
        • Re:Europeans (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:03PM (#15437367) Journal
          When they want to build the largest dam in the world (which is an engineering marvel that will put out as much electricity as 15 nuclear power plants combined), they just do it, and don't worry about the environmental, social, or historical implications.

          You missed one - they're also (mostly) ignoring that it crosses a significant fault line. I've yet to hear how they are going to address this. But, hey, that's progress, right? Didn't I also hear last night on NPR that they're just now recognizing that one of their rivers (yangtze, I believe) is going to be "dead" in just five years given the state, and increasing, pollution dumped into it? Progress, indeed!
        • Re:Europeans (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bombadillo (706765)
          They aren't "held back" by the same morality and environmental issues we are. When they want to build the largest dam in the world (which is an engineering marvel that will put out as much electricity as 15 nuclear power plants combined), they just do it, and don't worry about the environmental, social, or historical implications.

          Actually they are "held back". A few years ago there was a flood which became a major flood due to deforestation. The Chineese government caculated the cost of the flood and
        • Re:Europeans (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Tom (822) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:26PM (#15437603) Homepage Journal
          They aren't "held back" by the same morality and environmental issues we are.

          We used to be that way, too. Not 100 years in the past, more like 50.

          I'm sure the chinese will follow a similar pattern. Sure they will be a huge force in the near future, probably stronger than the US in both economics and military power and very close to the EU (which is still growing in number of participating nations, remember). But even as a strong force, they will start to feel the impact themselves. The dam will be built, but they probably won't build a 2nd one once all the shit hit the fan. Anyone remember the Nile dam? When it was built, it was a marvel of engineering, too. Today it is widely regarded as a bad idea and if it weren't for the fact that Egypt needs the electricity, there would be talks about tearing it down.
        • A Ten Day Trip? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ihatewinXP (638000)
          Let me chime in.

          About 200 days into my trip living and working in Beijing you get a different feel for things. Now I am not saying in any way that Chinese isnt the language to learn and that China isnt going to run the global economy for the forseeable future. I dont have room to start on that complex matter. But... ill relate all ive learned and say "Yes" to both sides..

          There is a construction army here that I am listening to build the next generation of high rises (inculding the tallest building in Beijin
        • Re:Europeans (Score:4, Informative)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @05:35PM (#15439367) Homepage Journal
          "it's the Chinese and the Indians (from India, not the reservation!) that are going to rule the world."

          I think the proper term for differentiating the Indians would be a "Dot" or a "Feather" Indian.

          Now, isn't that an easier way to distinguish them?

          :-)

        • by greg_barton (5551) *
          China has 35 people for every one of ours, so they could invade with nothing but chopsticks and probably win.

          It also means we could do 35x more human damage with a single nuclear strike.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Funny, but I am in the process of trying to figure out how to schedule the work I need to get done this summer around my european counterparts 8 weeks of vacation. Eight weeks, not including holidays! Funny, they never get labeled as lazy.

        Ha! Are you being even remotely serious? [google.com]

        Not that I'm against it, mind you. I think the so-called American work ethic -- in this age where we're not even ruled by imperialist lords but by faceless corporations that seemingly have no responsibility to society whatsoever

      • Re:Europeans (Score:2, Informative)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)
        Funny, but I am in the process of trying to figure out how to schedule the work I need to get done this summer around my european counterparts 8 weeks of vacation. Eight weeks, not including holidays! Funny, they never get labeled as lazy.

        Eh?!?! Eight weeks!?! You are either trolling or your counterpart must be a guy who has been accumulating vacation time for years! Myself I get exactly a month for vacation and most people don't take all of it out at once. The typical holiday here is three weeks with a wee
        • Yeah, that struck me as odd, too.

          Most of the EU is half that (4 weeks), with France in the lead at 6 and Ireland and... oh, who else, Germany maybe, at 5 weeks.

          I guess the French do get another 10 days of national holidays, so that's 7 weeks and 3 days, but that's still just one country.
        • Re:Europeans (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:16PM (#15437499) Journal
          US standard issue is 2 weeks plus between 1 and 2 weeks of "sick" leave. 3 weeks total if you're employer has changed to PTO (personal time off, a way to reward healthy singles and childless couples). Most employees in larger (>50) companies can earn more vacation with seniority, about a day extra per year, which adds up to 1 week to the base 2 weeks. There are exceptions, of course, on both extremes, but that's about the typical here. It allows a week's holiday and the odd three-day weekend. Not enough, imho.

          Me? Oh, I get zero paid days off. I run a small engineering firm, and when I'm not at my desk (and not reading /., of course ;-) I'm not getting paid a single cent. Actually, I get negative pay, since I have to pay rent, insurance, and power bills even when I 'm not making money. The difference, I suppose, is that I can blow of a half an hour of work on /., and know how much it really cost me. I also make more, per hour, when I'm actually working, than my salaried counterparts. (Note: I still don't get paid enough, imho, but hey - that's life.)
        • Re:Europeans (Score:5, Informative)

          by LunaticTippy (872397) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:57PM (#15437907)
          the European Union (EU) Working Time Directive requires a minimum of four weeks paid leave each year for all employees, and several EU countries have five weeks (25 working days) of vacation by law. Dutch, German, and Italian workers have gained roughly 30 vacation days, on average, through collective bargaining.

          30 days is 6 weeks. I'd be surprised if some workers didn't get more than this.

          I've had German coworkers who got 10 weeks, including holiday/sick/vacation/personal

    • by DrMrLordX (559371) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:12PM (#15436835)
      No, that this question is even being asked shows we're still burdened by the remnants of a Puritan work ethic. Compare the average American worker to those in other post-industrial economies and you'll find that we work more hours per week and get less vacation time per year.

      One of the major differences between Americans and people from other countries/cultures isn't in how much we work but rather in how we spend our free time. Some of us are remarkably sedentary. There may also be stark differences in how hard we work while "on the job", but I've found that, overall, American workplaces are continuing to push for higher productivity from fewer workers. This trend forces each individual worker to be more productive by working harder or working smarter (sometimes both). It's getting hard to slack on the job in many fields.
      • Someone needs a +6 Insightful. I would've commented on this myself but it was already said. The United States has amongst the highest worker productivity in the world, and we still get called lazy, usually by ourselves. I hadn't thought about the Puritan thing, but it makes a lot of sense, given the self-deprecation we often engage in when it comes to this particular topic.
      • by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:03PM (#15437366)
        "American workplaces are continuing to push for higher productivity from fewer workers"

        Absolutely. I've seen this at several workplaces (two professional and one factory setting), and the result is burnt out workers and confused managers wondering why everyone is burnt out! The management is seriously so dense that they can't understand why higher quotas are not a motivational tool. I've also seen an instance where management used the wrong formula to calculate labor needs, and laid off people based on that formula. When people complain, the response is, basically, "deal with it."

        I know the overall quality of living is higher now than it was 100 years ago (economic growth, mainly), but the overall feeling I get is that we are moving back towards the 19th century in terms of how employees are valued.

        Part of the percieved laziness and fatness of Americans is weight gain due to stress. Many people I know are stressed to the limit and wondering why they are unhappy, in spite of being "well educated" and having supposedly "rewarding professional careers".

    • Lazy slobbery is the wave of the future. What else are we going to do when the robots do everything for us? We don't want to wind up getting wiped out by the robots because we are useless, so we must become the best lazy slobs we can, better than any robot can ever be. The future of the human race is at stake!
    • We are a nation of slobs and lazy asses.

      Yah, I guess. I work hard, though -- I ain't no slob or a lazy ass. This means that sometimes between jobs, I can go weeks without needing any pants.

      Remember, kids: Vacation is the distance between jobs!
    • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:18PM (#15436910) Homepage
      That this even is being asked illustrates a very serious problem in this country.

      I don't think that's an accurate assessment. I don't know how things are like overseas, but Americans take a lot of pride in their jobs. "What do you do?" is one of the first questions asked after an introduction to another person. We put our own personal value into the jobs we do. That this question is being asked illustrates to me that Americans have been spending so much time working that they're wondering if they spend too much time doing it, and if there's something else that might be more important.
    • That this even is being asked illustrates a very serious problem in this country. We are a nation of slobs and lazy asses.

      I think USA is a nation of people, first and foremost. People don't produce more by spending more time on work. They produce more by having proper vacation, proper breaks and less stress on their workplace.

      So the question is far more complicated than it appears.
    • by MrWa (144753) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:21PM (#15436934) Homepage
      That this even is being asked illustrates a very serious problem in this country. We are a nation of slobs and lazy asses.

      The serious problem being that some people want to ruin the fun for everyone else by pointing out the obvious. I completely agree.

      Suprising that the virtues of laziness are delved into much. Not just in Perl programmers but in all aspects of work, the desire to be lazy leads to getting more done with less effort. That's what the policy wonks in the Fed call increased productivity - which is good for the economy.

      There is a reason that the US has done so well despite being lazy assess...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:03PM (#15436722)
    Sincerely,

    Your boss.
  • ... that it's in audio. Gonna have to wait till my lunch break to listen to it.
  • by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1.verizon@net> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:06PM (#15436763) Homepage
    I've found that in all of my jobs there are people willing to work and do their job and their are people who will just do what they need to get by.

    Personally, I feel this has to do with how they grew up. Rarely do I find someone that was spoiled during their life become a good worker. I think that America needs isn't so much more slacking or working, but the kids do need to be raised to earn what they get so that once they get into a true paycheck job they have the mindset to actually work and do their job and be team member.
    • by sckeener (137243) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:45PM (#15437188)
      I've found that in all of my jobs there are people willing to work and do their job and their are people who will just do what they need to get by.

      Interesting. Are you saying people should do more than they should be paid to do? Personally I subscribe to work smarter, not harder. I find that people that are preceived as working hard do well.

      My dad was a workaholic. He was a lawyer in the morning, fixed computers in the afternoon and worked on mainframes at NASA during the night. (He believed what the Navy told him...i.e. that he only needed 4 hours of sleep.)

      My parents got a divorce after 24 years. 24 years sounds nice except I was 14 and I have to wonder if I and my mother would have had a better relationship with my dad if he had just cut back on the working....been around the house more.

      Then there was my father-in-law. He's dead now. He worked multiple jobs too to take care of the family (3 daughters.) He died at 47 from colon cancer. His big plan was to retire and enjoy life.

      Personally I'd rather see less GNP and more GNH (Gross National Happiness) [wikipedia.org] Working hard should never be a goal. Working smart and being happy should be.
  • Channel your inner Wally. He'll help you decide the best course of (in)action to take;-)
  • Audio???? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:06PM (#15436769) Homepage
    Audio format? What the hell?!

    Sheesh! Can't someone post a summary. I don't want to wait to download a friggin' audio stream, I just want it paraphrased for me.

    ;-)
  • Comments? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wellington Grey (942717) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:08PM (#15436784) Homepage Journal
    Comments? How can there be comments already? Clearly these people didn't LTTFP :)

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Lazy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:09PM (#15436796)
    Most westerners, and Americans in particular, are sleep deprived as the norm trying to get in some semblence of a life between work. The majority of us have also become stimulant addicts in an attempt to make this easier, which in turn makes the stress of the day even more severe. On top of all that, we live in a society where it's increasingly difficult to stay abreast of the latest changes in science, society, and the world and where most of us lack the time to comfortably allocate study time for the sake of pure learning. There's little time for quality family time, especially with those not in our own household. And there's precious little time to work on independant and alturistic projects which in theory could be of benefit to soceity. And if one finds any of that objectionable, he's instantly tagged as lazy.

    The world is one messed up place sometimes.
    • Americans as a group are lazy. They spend most of their day trying to look busy while actually doing nothing. The stress they get from their job is often of their own doing, since if they would get stuff done if they would do it rather then work at avoiding it they wouldn't have to worry about everything relating to it.

      I'm not saying that Americans are the only lazy people around, but to claim that Americans as a group have a work ethic is a joke. Looking at how hard people work to do no work, it's amazing
      • To some extent this is true, and it has to do with the culture in many large corporations. If you write a piece of software that works right away, you get far less recognition than the person who creates a lot of problems, and then makes a big show of addressing them (often working late to do so).
    • Honestly, what proportion of the populace do you think would (or could, even)"work on independant and alturistic projects which in theory could be of benefit to soceity" or "allocate study time for the sake of pure learning"?

      I would be shocked if given the extra time that you are describing that most people would do anything with it other than goof off. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but to pretend that there are some high and mighty ideals as you describe is really quite a stretch.

  • At what point (Score:2, Insightful)

    by falcon8080 (975701)
    does taking a break so as to relax the mind and body become slacking?
    Ive noticed that some of our office tenants enforce a 'no web browsing' rule, but allow employees to head outside for a smoke break...
    It blows my mind that certain activities are considered slacking activities whilst others are as necessary as going to the bathroom. Of course spending 4hrs looking over /. might be considered excessive...
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:11PM (#15436824)
    "Instant communication, anytime, anywhere", "That's how business gets done", "Business at the speed of thought", blah blah blah.
    When was the first time you regretted hearing the phrase "twenty four by seven"?
    How many weeks of vacation do the Europeans get?

    Goddam right I need some slack.

  • I have not met a single soul outside of the medical and legal profession whose actual and typical workload could not be accomplished in 30-40 hours of real honest work. The problem is that most of them spend at least 2 hours a day screwing around, reading Slashdot, reading CNN, chatting in the aisles, or doing make-work while waiting for somebody else to deliver something that they need to continue their legitimate work. Now and then we get a rush ("I told the client you'd have it by tomorrow." "That's 2
    • Reality is that almost no humans are capable of working every for 8 hours straight. It's perfectly normal to spend some time goofing off, playing darts, etc. It's a normal part of a normal work day.
    • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:37PM (#15437117)
      Since no one modded you down as troll, I'll respond. I'm only working part time right now (hence the time to post on slashdot) but "back in the day" as a developer I routinely worked 60 hour weeks. Some of us worked 80-100. Very little of that was slack - we were in constant "panic mode" most of the time, and many people burned out, quit, lost their marriages, etc. It was impossible to accomplish everything that was needed to with unrealistic deadlines, and new requirments hitting the desk at 5:00 on Friday that absolutely had to be completed by Monday morning because the ad campaign was already going out, etc. Trust me - the 80 hour work week was not a myth.
    • "I have not met a single soul outside of the medical and legal profession whose actual and typical workload could not be accomplished in 30-40 hours of real honest work."

      I'm a slacker, but my dad is not. He's a farmer. His work schedule is as follows:

      3:00am - Get up to milk cows (no breakfast yet)
      9:00 - breakfast
      12:00 lunch
      6:00pm - dinner / done for day, half of the year
      8:00pm - done for day, other half of year.

      I don't want to hear anyone complain about how much they have to work.
    • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:46PM (#15437204) Journal
      I have not met a single soul outside of the medical and legal profession whose actual and typical workload could not be accomplished in 30-40 hours of real honest work.

      Then you've obviously never met a factory worker as I used to be, and as such, I have to say this is BS. 30-40 hours? You try that shit on an assmebly line --- the work literally never stops coming, not even for a minute. You don't have time to think, you barely have time to breathe. Don't give me this "you should work harder" shit; you truly cannot work any harder in a job like that because you have to work as hard as you absolutely can to keep up at all. If you don't keep up, you don't keep the job. Vacation? 1 single week a year and you have to have been working there at elast 3 years to get paid for that vacation. Or don't factory workers count? Because if there weren't any factory workers you wouldn't have even half of everything you have now, inlcuding the parts in your computer.

    • I have not met a single soul outside of the medical and legal profession whose actual and typical workload could not be accomplished in 30-40 hours of real honest work.

      And I have yet to see a creative job where it is practical to work more than 20-25 hours on task week after week. This includes time spent during overtime and/or excessive overtime. Other time is spent exchanging ideas with other people, rest breaks (recharging eyes, body, and mind; allowing ideas to percolate), company meetings, dealing wi
    • > I have not met a single soul outside of the medical
      > and legal profession whose actual and typical
      > workload could not be accomplished in 30-40 hours
      > of real honest work.

      As a former pastry chef, I disagree.

      It does not matter how hard you try, you CANNOT produce *good* milles-feuille in less than three hours. Sure, you can go through the motions. You can follow the steps. But you won't meet the criteria - if you roll the dough out too fast, you develop the gluten in the dough too much, and you
  • We need more resting when we're supposed to rest, so we aren't completely exhausted when we need to work. When we're not at work, we're doing a million other things, never resting.

    We're a country of poeple that are burnt out, trying to make up for it by working more.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:17PM (#15436894)

    Seriously, we need more vacation. If we got more vacation, we wouldn't need to slack off at work at all. We'd be rested enough to do our jobs. But we don't get nearly enough. [infoplease.com] We're not slacking - we're dog tired, burnt out, whatever you want to call it. Give us more time off and I'll bet productivity will go up more than enough to compensate.

    And cut out PTO while you're at it. Only thing that does is lump your vacation days and your sick days together. It'd be a good idea if we got enough of them but we don't. So every time someone at the office gets the flu, they think "If I take sick days off I'm losing vacation days - and I want to go to the Bahamas this year" and come to the office anyways. And get everybody sick.

    Stop treating time off like a loss to the company - it isn't. Healthy and happy workers make for a better company.

  • The Church of the Subgenius is being outsourced! What a travesty. It figures, they were just a bunch of slackers anyway.
  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:18PM (#15436909)
    One day a gang of energetic citizens was diggin a trench with their hands, but a slacker said "That's too much work" and went off and invented the shovel.

    Time passes. Hard-working men are digging a canal with shovels. A slacker stayed home one day and invented the backhoe.

    Etc.

    Eli Whitney? Slacker. Too lazy to lift a flail.
    Fulton? Too slack to row.
    Edison? A slacker with good a good PR department.
  • well, it's not the summer vacation in England (damn exams until 13th of june), but when i read "slacking" I though first and foremost of Slackware; have I been spending too much time on /.

    Which brings me nicely on to my point... isn't /. just a way of slacking off whilst learning just enough to feel like your not wasting you life, backed up with the occasional approval of people you don't know (which is nice)... nice to see the cycle complete.
  • by farrellj (563) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:20PM (#15436922) Homepage Journal
    For the years I worked in the US, I worked more national holidays, unpaid overtime, and from home than any job, including my own business, in Canada. I believe that studies find Americans work more hours than almost any where else, but are ultimately less productive than most other countries. Hours at work do not equal productivity!

    I know people who work/worked at a certain US hardware vendor where members of the software *engineering* group are forced to work 24 hour on-call as FIRST LEVEL support on over 5,000 servers at various sites around the US in addition to their regular work. Is it any wonder why they keep on loosing members left, right and center, and can't recruit people? Is it any wonder why their engineering work frequently slips and or is badly engineered?

    ttyl
              Farrell
  • I feel in America we are loosing the ballance. And it is not just about vacation time. We need schedules that are flexible enough to take a day off on quick notice, without penility or feel like they put a stop watch on you. But on the other hand if we have that flexibilty we need to make sure we don't abuse it as well, like not showing up because you drank to much the night before, or you just don't want to go to work. We live in a culture where there is enough people who abuse any additional freedomes or
  • I use http://www.slackware.com/ [slackware.com] for work.
  • It is summer vacation after all, right?

    Considering I have accumulated almost 45 days of annual leave and 2 days of personal leave (out of a possible 4), I have no idea what a vacation is.

    Oh, you mean time off from dealing with the people who annoy me with their problems. In that case my vacation is when I leave work.

  • What about the guy who comes in to work, does absolutely nothing from 8-noon (Besides drink coffee and read /.), yet manages to do more work in the last few hours of the day than most do in an entire week... Would he be considered a slacker?

  • the eternal conflict between wanting to be a lazy bum and wanting to work hard.


    Sorry, but this has never been a conflict let alone an eternal one. People and even other animals don't want to work hard, they want the rewards from working hard; preferably without all that work.
  • If you need, you can download it as a podcast. [wbur.org]
  • I don't think there's anything more rewarding (and few things more restful) than working your ass off doing something you love and believe in. Contrariwise, it's hard to work like a dog doing something you think is stupid or worthless.

    I always figured most people don't really like their jobs, and slack off as a form of passive aggressive rebellion. It's understandable, but counterproductive. It ends up taking more energy to be lazy than to improve your own situation, whether that be getting ahead where you
  • by blair1q (305137)
    We worked our asses off in the 80s and 90s to create the Internet economy so that there would be good jobs for the American middle class in the new millennium.

    Carly Fiorina, Craig Barrett, Larry Ellison, Scott McNealy, and Bill Gates then betrayed us by shipping those good jobs to the cheap-labor centers in India and China.

    Carly even stood up in a public meeting and insisted that it was the right thing to do.

    A trillion dollars in investment, gone in a few months.

    If it had been a war and we'd been harmed to
  • "It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)

    I also think it has to do with whether or not you like what you do. If you enjoy your work, then slacking is hardly a thought. I currently really enjoy what I'm doing. Then again, I've taken the time to make this post and google that Tolkien quote I remembered....
  • by moankey (142715) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:33PM (#15437069)
    If we look at history and culture, it would appear slacking started occuring during the baby-boomer generation. Some people's parents or grandparents.

    The transition from loyalty and hard work all of a sudden shifted to feeling good and rebelling. Since then the mindset is still the same just evolved to match the current time we live in.
  • The maximum efficiency you can regularly get out of people is around 80% unless its crunch time or there are other factors.

    80% is sustainable, in most cases. Any more and people will start getting tired, then stressed, then sick, then out. Eventually they'll quit.

    Most people, however, do not realize this and figure that every moment the person is at work they must be bombarded with stuff to do or demands, or goals to meet, etc.

    When I first got here the philosophy was 'always be working on something' which
  • I moved to the US 5 years ago and have been running my own IT consultancy business for the past 4 years. I came from a largely socialist country and recently I have been trying to quantify my quality of life.

    While I spend 12+ hours a day in front of my computers, I only have to leave my home/office for maybe 10 to 20 hours per week to maintain my income. I pay my mortgage and car note but am still not earning enough to cover my medical insurance costs - for me and the Mrs this is more than my mortgage and c
  • No one wants to come out and say it, but the outsourcing thing is probably driven a lot by our lack of work ethic. I think it's actually driven by a couple of things:

    1. Cost (duh)
    2. Lack of competence in existing labor pool
    3. The outsourced labor pool is able to work harder than the existing one for less money.

    When you outsource work to a culture where hard work and intelligence is superior to everyting else, it's hard to come back to your native labor pool and watch them leave exactly at 5 PM. Even when th
  • by ChicagoDave (644806) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:47PM (#15437223) Homepage
    Personally, I cycle through very ambitious work periods and then into very home/family oriented periods. I still work hard, but I'm less focused on my career and "getting ahead" and more interested in the tasks at hand. During the ambitious times, I'm usually pushing my managers, owners, coworkers, and myself to get better at everything.

    I think Americans work hard, but I think there's also a selfishness across the board. Corporations are less inclined to care about work/life balance and employees are less inclined to care about where they work or for how long.

    No one is really investing in this relationship anymore.

    Maybe it's because more people now understand that the only way to make "real" money is to own your own business. Or maybe corporations have become greedy bastards that don't care about our communities anymore.

    I think we all know how to work hard, but only do so when the need arises. We're not a country of hardworkers just because that's what you're supposed to do. We cut corners because we can and because we see everyone else cutting corners.

    It's probably not a healthy thing for the future of our country.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:49PM (#15437830)
    Part of the problem is how work and play are partitioned, or not. We've traditionally seen work as part of the productive part of our lives, and play as the kick-back-and-do-what-I-like part. When we were young, you came home from school. put your play clothes on and went out to make mud pies or whatever. There was a distinction. It has been mostly that way for adults, too - work 9-5 then kick back or wait for the weekend.

    Now it's fuzzier. Technology has done two things - (1) made work ubiquitous and (2) it is allowing us to micro-manage our leisure. Your phone (allegedly a productivity tool) now can be your TV and hi-fi and you can have it anywhere always. Which means you have a personal TV and hi-fi whenever the mood strikes. You used to haev to go home to do those things. iPod even more. I can't remember the last time I fired up an actual stereo stack just to listen to music.

    And we take entertainment in smaller bites, because it's available, in many forms. Restaurants are increasingly entertainment venues, as opposed to functional greasy spoons. Your car is now an entertainment center. My instant-on laptop is a theater, hi-fi, arcade, and and and... I have XM radio, and I use exactly three stations - 150, 151, 153 - the comedy channels. That turns my two 45 min commutes into entertainment. So I get to kick back and laugh out loud for a small chunk of time that I can't seem to afford otherwise. Ditto podcasts. That's a change that's far more entertainment than dialing around hoping something comes up, or screaming at Rush for three hours....

    I still think we're on a net gain with the mix. but it could turn around in a very short time...
  • Perspective... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:00PM (#15437942)
    Ok, I'll lay it out for you.

    I've been in IT since 1984 (while still in college). Most of my jobs have been ok; some interesting, like adminstering a Cray II at NASA Langley, or being lead Unix SA at the NYT SSC in Norfolk, VA and remote admining their production systems in Boston; some not so interesting. There were always things to be done, and never enough time to do them.

    I met my wife in 1985. She was a teacher, an excellent teacher. The kind of teacher teachers should be. She was always well prepared, and kept her students challenged and interested. She taught English and Gifted Education. She was often even busy during the summer keeping herself prepared for the next year. I routinely helped her with things, especially on the computer. We were always busy.

    As a result, we had very little time to actually enjoy the fruits of our labors. Sure, we spent a lot of time together (shopping, movies, house/school work, etc), and tried to take long weekend trips (during the summer or school breaks). Those times I cherish. We enjoyed every minute of our 20 years together, but it wasn't enough - not nearly enough. We simply expected to do more "real vacation things" when she retired in the summer of 2006.

    Well, here's how it went. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November of 2005 and died January 13, 2006. She never got to enjoy her retirement and we never had the opportunity to really travel or do the things we had put off until "later".

    Perhaps we should have tried harder to dedicate more down time, but that's not the work ethic under which we were raised and it's difficult to ignore. Lesson learned, though too late for me.

    I think there's too much emphasis in the US business world on doing more work, with fewer people -- you know "worker productivity". As a result, people feel pressured into working more and guilty about taking time for themselves or their family.

    The traditional Eurpoean model is much more family friendly. A month off every year with no work strings attached sounds pretty good to me.

    I know that work is important, but you can always find another job; you can't find another family or another life.

    Remember Sue...

  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smcdow (114828) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:02PM (#15437957) Homepage
    I had occasion recently to travel with the president of the company I work for to attend some meetings (bleah). After the meetings, over a beer, he asked me what I thought of him taking the entire company (~100 employees) to a mandatory 30-hour work week.

    My twofold response was:

    1. Sign me up.
    2. You won't notice a drop in overall output (ie, perceived productivity would go up).

    He agreed with me on point #2.

    It remains to be seen if he will go through with his nefarious plan. I sure hope he does.

  • by Proteus (1926) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:02PM (#15438458) Homepage Journal
    First, let me get the definition out of the way: "slacking" is "not working when one is supposed to be working". Vacation, therefore, is not slacking, but reading Slashdot at work probably is.

    There are certainly times when slacking is an issue. If an air-traffic controller is playing her DS when she should be watching the radar, there's certainly a problem. When people slack so much that they aren't meeting the requirements of their work, there's a problem.

    But I'd argue that a little slacking in most industries is actually good for business.

    The problems really enter when management sees work as quantitative when it is qualitative. Knowledge workers are typically qualitative workers -- that is, it's more important (in general) to do their tasks well then to get a lot done. These people should be allowed to have some unstructured recreation at work (if they were allowed, it wouldn't be "slacking" any more! ;D), because it allows them to do better work.

    It's pretty unusual for someone to be able to simply sit and work for long periods of time, every day, on something that requires a significant chunk of brain power. Anyone who's done significant development knows that the best way to solve some kinds of problems is to do something completely unrelated for a while. When I get stumped, I play Lumines [ubi.com] for a while. It's usually only a few levels in when I suddenly think of something helpful, and can get back to work.

    I've also noticed that the most talented and truly productive (measured in terms of quantity * quality) developers, business modellers, architects, engineers, etc. have long ago recognized this need to "percolate" on occasion. Good management lets people "slack" a little during work time, because they know that these same people are often "working" during their fun time. I know that some of my best solutions have occurred to me late at night while playing Final Fantasy or browsing for fun from home. If work is going to encroach on my "fun time" (and really, it can't be helped in knowledge work, because you can't turn off your brain), then it's reasonable to get in a little fun at work, too.

    We don't need more work, or more "slacking" -- we need to stop forcing the dichotomy when it doesn't make sense.
  • by PrairieShark (857176) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:38PM (#15438813) Homepage Journal
    The problem isn't so much the number of hours you work, it's more a matter of if you enjoy them or not.

    I was a SysAdmin for years, during which time I worked 50 hours on a *short* week. A typical week was closer to 70, and I had on many occasions done in excess of 100. I had to take a laptop with me when I went on my 3-weeks-after-10-years vacation to Arizona in January (Arizona in January sure beats Ottawa!). I ended up working 1 to 2 hours a day while on "vacation". Every damned day.

    I hated my job, but I was too busy to look for another one.

    Then I got cancer, and lost my left kidney. (Well, I didn't _lose_ it; the surgeon took it out, sent it to the Lab and the report came back "malignant'). As part of my recovery, I was *forbidden* to lift anything heavier than a 10-pound bag of sugar, *required* to have a nap for at least 1/2 hour a day, and it was suggested I find a less stressful lifestyle. I was basically confined to the house for 6 weeks. The after-effects of the anasthetic left me unable to concentrate on much of anything for more than a few minutes at a time. I could read the newspaper's comic page, but that was about it.

    There's a lot to be said for a short nap in the afternoon. All of it positive.

    When I was able to go back to work, I could handle it, but now the 100-hour weeks annoyed me. So, I quit SysAdmin-ing (I don't think that's an actual word...), and now work as Tech Support for a much smaller firm. I do on-call sometimes, but mostly I get to do a 40-hour work week.

    Eliminating stress _does_ make a difference. I've noticed it. My wife's noticed it. My son and daughter-in-law noticed it. I get fewer cold/influenza bouts, because I'm not so run down. I _swear_ I'm wiser now, but that could just be because I'm alive (and therefore older) and appreciate it more.

    If you aren't happy with what you do, it'll kill you, regardless of the hours/days/weeks schedule.

    If you enjoy what you're doing for a living, the amount of time spent doing it doesn't really matter all that much.
  • I grew up thinking "9 to 5, an hour for lunch" was normal and expected. At the time (early 80s) it probably was. Little by little, it has eroded, a half hour here, fifteen minutes there. Most "normal" workdays are 8 to 5, half hour for lunch, and staying late is expected -- if you take off right at 5 in most places, you're going to get some looks.

    Remember when only certain, time-critical jobs required people to carry pagers? You could tell someone was a doctor or a stockbroker if he was carrying one. Everyone else left work at work. Nowadays, you're expected to answer your cellphone at any time day or night if the boss calls.

    Vacation time gets slowly whittled away. Years ago, maybe you accrued one day of vacation per month. Then it was half a day. Then you couldn't roll those days into the next fiscal year -- use 'em or lose 'em. (You probably lost 'em.) Sorry, it's for "productivity" reasons. We need more "productivity" from our worker bees. I don't think you're typing as fast as you could be. With another 3wpm you could save thirty seven seconds per quarter, you slacker. Is that a personal call I see you making? You're not on the interworldwebnet, are you? That's a productivity loss! Why aren't you being productive? I know you've been here since 8am, worked through lunch, plan to stay late, and probably take client calls from your cellphone while sitting in traffic, but goddammit, be productive!! Work it harder, make it better, do it faster, makes us stronger!

    Americans work insane amounts. (I realize we are not alone in this, so cork it.) It's especially insane when you realize that "productivity" hasn't really increased that much. We show up earlier, stay later, take less breaks, but in any given day, the average office yob only has so much to do. Now they just have to spread their bit of work over nine hours, instead of seven or eight.

    The push for almighty profit has taken a lot away from society. Contrary to what conservatives love to believe, there is more to life than making money. Not long ago I was listening to some doofus on the radio prattling to the host about what a lazy bunch of losers France was. His justification for this was that their economic growth isn't as fast as ours.

    There seems to be an awful lot of this mentality, and it sickens me. Sure, they get tons of free time. What is it, eight weeks of vacation a year? Ten? 35 hour workweeks or something? In other words, time to enjoy life and do something you enjoy? Oh, but their economic growth isn't as fast as America's! WHO GIVES A SHIT?

    Most people are not doing anything so important that it requires five eight-or-nine hour days. I have my doubts that most people would admit that, but that's another problem in our culture of profit profit profit -- that we tie our identities so intrisically to our jobs, that it feels insulting to hear that what we're doing really isn't all that important. But I'm telling you, and all the other Joe Timesheets and Eddie Punchclocks out there, that really, if you only wrote TPS reports four days a week instead of five, nobody would notice. Things would still get done.

    I take that back -- the only people who would notice are those who directly profit from your efforts. So while 99% of the workforce would like to go the fuck home and enjoy what life has to offer, we're trapped in soul-crushing hellholes by the 1% that controls these things.

    Right now it's a beautiful day outside. I can see it from my window. I could be out there sunbathing or reading or falling in the water as I try to learn to use a kayak or getting sighed at by my friend as he tries to explain for the tenth time the difference between these knots as we prepare to go rock climbing. I could be playing with my cats, throwing Frisbees at my girlfriend's dogs, or just taking a nap. Instead, I have to stay here. There is nothing for me to do in the office today, but I have

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

Working...