Workplace Reality

“I want to play a game with you Dr. Floyd”
“I don’t have time for games.”
“This is a good game. It is called the truth.”
2010:The Year We Make Contact

The truth is often difficult. Many times it is even difficult for those who already have the most. Especially for those who have the most.

For example, why is there so much emphasis on minimizing work from home and getting people back into the office?

It is to placate the fragile egos of senior managers.

If a company manufactures tangible products, obviously, it cannot performed remotely. Likewise, for face-to-face customer service. But many organizations deal primarily with information, and can conduct all, or mostly all functions with employees at home.

We all know that there is now a major difference in pay between senior managers and productive workers. However, senior managers rely on a variety of other theatrics to massage their egos and let the regular employees know their place. Perhaps the most egregious are the general working conditions. For example, cubicles are the worst, especially the playpen sized cubicles that became popular in the late two-thousand teens. These are the ones that measure about 4 or 5 feet on a side and are only about 4 foot high.

Playpen cubicles reduce productivity by up to 50 percent. The idea was that it would encourage interaction, although it is rare for employees working toward similar results to be proximate. This may have been the case when the cubicles were installed, but, soon, people move onto different projects and the cluster is broken up.

Cubicles do result in a great deal of non-productive noise, making concentration difficult. However, many people become knowledgeable as to who is having marital problems, who is buying which kind of automobile, appliance, or firearm, not to mention others political and religious views. In many offices, the switch to such cubicles was just before COVID-19 hit and allowed for more efficient infection of coworkers.

However, the managers can open the door of their office, step out and a walk through the area to view a sea of faces for eight hours a day, for 200-250 days per year.

Of those eight hours, how many are productive? Somewhere between four and six-and this is if you count the hours spent creating PowerPoint slides, internal reports, etc. It is more important for managers to have “asses in chairs” than to produce results. This is one of the reasons that there are so many routinely scheduled meetings that accomplish next to nothing. As one cartoon years ago indicated “Meetings – the logical alternative to work.”

Working from home, on the other hand, must and does focus on accomplishing things. Unfortunately, the corporate vice presidents or one-star generals do not receive adequate ego massaging from results. When faced with a choice between productivity and senior managers’ egos, we all know what wins.

I love Dan Piraro’s Bizarro

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