If You're Reading This At Work, Shame on You


According to a recent AOL and Salary.com poll, U.S. workers waste over two hours a day by surfing the Web, chatting up colleagues, etc.

More info here.

NEXT: Thoughts That Breathe and Words That Burn

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  1. I learned it from you, ok?!?! I learned it from you. (*sob*)

  2. Only two hours?
    Christ, I'm starting to feel guilty here.

  3. Supposedly, Missourians are the worst. Sorry about that, boss.

  4. Just dropping in to let you know I'm hard at work, Nick.

  5. They could get some of that time back if they let us smoke at our desks.

  6. Read it once, shame on me.
    Read it twice... um, shame on me again. Damn it!

  7. This can't possibly be true.

    No way. Not buying it.


  8. I do marketing for a small finance firm in downtown chicago...long term leases on long term assets, basically watching paint dry, my boss has a 40 million dollar house, horses, etc...

    anyway of my 8.5 hours of office time a day, on a typical I'd say 6 of them are surfing

    if you're tired of blogs, I heartily recommend http://www.rickross.com, tons of cult links...

  9. Well if they're readin' my comments, it's not a waste of time.

  10. Reason:
    The Websense category "Non-Traditional Religions and Occult and Folklore" is filtered.



  11. Yeah, 2 hours? Amatures. Maybe 2 hours of work and 6 hours of surfing. . .

  12. I'm on my lunch break. So nyah!

  13. Of course, since I'm on salary, and paid to produce articles, I don't feel guilty as long as the work gets done.

    Speaking of work, I should go do some.

  14. Just got back from my 3 hour lunch, did I miss anything?

  15. Of course, by dropping in on H&R when I need a little mental break time instead of taking up smoking or trying to hook up with a co-worker, I'm choosing healthier habits for myself, reducing the chances of sexual harassment problems, and fostering harmony in the workplace.

    Not to mention sharpening my writing skills and creative thinking.

    Plus, whenever I have a random half-assed thought that I think is kinda funny, I can post it here instead of going down the hall to corner a colleague and impose my humor on him/her.

    And finally, once while writing here I came up with a turn of phrase that I used in my work. And I didn't even bill for that time.

    Blogging on Hit & Run. Hey, American Business -- it doesn't cost. It pays.

  16. Stevo-you must work in public relations. That, or you're a lawyer.

    Oh-I'm on hold right now, so I'm not stealing time.

  17. Blogging on Hit & Run. Hey, American Business -- it doesn't cost. It pays.

    Yes. Now that I've found Reason's Hit and Run, I can hide my insanity from the real world surrounding me and instead funnel it to other people over the interweb.
    Thanks, Reason! (

  18. Still on hold...someone should do a study on how much time is wasted on hold or navigating those fucking touch-tone systems.

  19. HTML protocol messed up my above comment; it should have read:

    Thanks, Reason! (facilitating Capitalist Anarchy one Clearly Insane person at a time).

  20. fuck bosses, you expect us to work with the bullshit wage and drug testing.

  21. This is a property rights issue. Your employer has paid for your time and owns it. You fucking libertarians don't live up to the demands of your own goofy cult. Now get the fuck back to work and leave the discussions to those of us with enough common sense to realize that the state plays an invaluable role in human affairs and who believe that sometimes personal rights trump property rights. Fucking twinkies.

  22. I'm self-employed, and I spend a lot of time here.

    ...and that two odd hours of time blasted every day comes pretty close to the average amount of time the tax man takes out of the average day's pay. I don't have a study for this or anything, but I say blame the tax man.

    Unless you're workin' for me, then you can blame the tax man whe I tell you you're fired!

  23. Number 6: "Corporate communications" pretty much sums up what I do.

    And touch-tone phone menus generally suck.

  24. A) Yes, but I'm on my lunch break;
    B) If employers don't want there employees on the internet at work, why do they have access to begin with? Or if they need access to some sights, limit their access to those sites.

  25. You know Sam, you bring up a pretty good point.

    ...Now why don't you go fuck yourself?

  26. mmmmmmm, twinkies.

  27. So long as my work is done on time and is of good quality, who cares? Certainly not my boss. At my last job, by contrast, my boss had this fear that I was going to replace her (as if I'd want to be a copyeditor for life), so when my work was done I was not allowed to do ANYTHING but sit there. No Internet. No reading the reference materials at the place. Nothing to suggest to the higher-ups that I personally did as much work as my boss and my colleague combined. So, sometimes I would literally sit there doing nothing for five or six hours a day, feeling my brain turning into tapioca, and then when a report in need of editing finally came in I'd make all kinds of mistakes, since the five hours of nothingness had temporarily lowered my IQ by a good ninety points, at least.

    At my new job, by contrast, if there's no work to be done my boss doesn't expect me to try and look busy--I can chill out, read, smoke, drink, whatever. And that's good, because then when a job DOES come in, my mind is still sharp and I can get right to it.

  28. Tom:

    Is that the way a libertarian handles a challenging point? Don't mess up my comfortable orthodoxy with nasty observations about what sniveling assholes the faithful really are. You can be a true believer about the sanctity of property rights until you have the opportunity to steal, huh? Then you tell the whistle blower to go fuck himself. Deep in your heart you know full well that you wouldn't survive five minutes in a libertarian utopia, you welfare bum.

  29. Jennifer:

    If anything lowered your IQ by ninety points, you wouldn't even have an IQ. Excuses are expected, but don't exaggerate.

  30. "Is that the way a libertarian handles a challenging point? ...blah blah blah."

    No, that's the way I handle being referred to as a "fucking twinkie".

  31. Hey, it beats toggling from one inactive screen to another, just to look busy.

    I tell my boss I'm studying Spanish online (and sometimes it's true!), which will be useful to me and others at my workplace. And if I'm surfing, I'm also close to the phone, unlike my co-workers who go to parts unknown for a smoke, or corner colleagues down the hall to impart their questionable humor. 🙂

  32. Sam-
    That's only true if you assume my IQ is ninety or less.

  33. Jennifer:

    On the basis of your posts, that's my assumption.

  34. Am I the only one who thought Sam was being sarcastic in that original post? I was laughing. Now, I'm not sure...

  35. Free Form:

    I'll bet this talk of IQs makes you very nervous.

  36. Sam's trolling.

    The thing is, Sam, that you're right. I have been contracted by my employer for 40 hours per week, within which I have certain job duties. The thing is, my job duties don't require all 40 hours each week. Sometimes they require maybe 10, sometimes they require 50. But if my employer has a problem with my end of the contract, they can terminate my services with them and find someone else. Since they haven't done that, even knowing how my days are spent, means that I'm fulfilling my end of the bargain to their liking. That's how the shit works.

    So if you're done insulting people and trying to bait folks into calling you an asshole, maybe you can actually bring something to the discusion.

  37. I think Sam is dealing with what Prozac-peddlers refer to as Anger Management Issues.

  38. Tom:

    Gee, in my original post I didn't address you personally, but, like a faithful dog, you responded to the identifying tag anyway. Very good.

  39. In all seriousness, slacking off can only be considered theft if you are paid hourly. The rest of us are paid to produce a product. As long as that happens, there's no theft involved.

    Oh, and Sam-I'd be carefull. Jennifer can probably kick your ass.

  40. Low Dog:

    No matter how you slice it, you're cheating your employer.

  41. Jennifer is so fucking stupid that I doubt she (maybe he)can grab her/his ass with both hands and whistle at the same time.

  42. i think sam's being serious. or maybe he doesn't know anymore.

  43. Actually, Sam, I can't whistle at all. Never picked up the technique.

  44. Jennifer is so fucking stupid that I doubt she (maybe he)can grab her/his ass with both hands and whistle at the same time.
    ... maybe not. damn it.

  45. Sam,

    So what are you doing on here? Are you self-employed? Unemployed? Retired? Inherited wealth? Using vacation time?

  46. Just pulling your legs. But you really should get back to work. I'm independently wealthy, so I don't have to work.

  47. I think Sam is dealing with what Prozac-peddlers refer to as Anger Management Issues.


  48. Wow, that's admirable.

  49. Gee, Sam, ad hominim arguements really DO get results. And all this time I thought they were the last resort of the ethically simple.
    The Loyal Boyfriend in me wants to leap in here and make point-by-point responses to your insults, but empirical evidence from living with Jennifer tells me to just get out of her way.

    And I grab her ass and whistle all the time, and I'm a blithering idiot.

  50. What the fuck is an "arguement"?

  51. And I grab her ass and whistle all the time, and I'm a blithering idiot.

    But a damned fine-looking one, honey.

  52. I'm currently in my month of not being paid. Because I work for a bureacratic state government, if I've employed 12 straight months they have to give me benefits (like 24 vacation days and 13 holidays).

    Of course my boss still expects me to work since we have deadlines! (But I only have to come into work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday -- he's a nice boss. Plus he pays me for holidays, provided I work on those holidays.) So I never feel too guilty about not working.

  53. Jennifer is so fucking stupid that I doubt she (maybe he)can grab her/his ass with both hands and whistle at the same time.

    I don't know what an "arguement" is; what the fuck is a "he)can?"

  54. Few people with internet access in their offices are paid, stricly speaking, for 40 hours of work (or 37.5, as is the case with many).

    Even in all-billable-time setups like big law firms and similar types of organizations, there are billing codes where employees attribute non-productive time. In my experience, operating at around 75% capacity (if the 2 hours-out-of-8 thing is true) is maybe a little low, but not outrageous. Sometimes all hell breaks loose and you work furiously for 14 straight hours, or even 40 hours in two days; other times, there's not a lot going on.

    Most businesses are depended on their clients' habits, and their principals' abilities to secure paid work. sometimes you've got a bonanza going, other times not so much. February is traditionally our busiest month; while June and July are the lightest. Yet, we don't have employment contracts that call for different numbers of hours to be worked during those months. The months are all treated the same.

    Jst as weet no special award for putting in an 80 hour week; neither are we penalized for putting in a 6 hour day. The ebb and flow of work volume, combined with the need to be able to absorb excess capacity when the rainmakers strike gold, mean that some amount of inefficiency is desirable.

  55. I think the internet is wonderful. My last job, where I was specifically told not to work so hard I was making the others look bad, consisted of 4 hours a day playing Doom or some other video game I picked up at a cheap-o bin. Got so I could kill that demon on the last level at the hardest setting every single time.

    Now I get to go home and discuss reason (and salon, and DU, and nro, and village voice, and ...) articles with the family!

  56. Jennifer:

    The use of parenthese is way beyond you, dear. You just keep reading your pamphlets until your lips get sore and don't worry about technicalities.

  57. Sam-
    What the fuck's a "parenthese?" I know what "parentheses" are, but "parenthese" is a mystery.

  58. heh. anyway, i personally am paid by salary for 40 hours a week, even though i almost never have 40 actual hours of work to do a week. i'm well aware that my employer could theoretically point to that fact as an excuse to fire me if he needed to. but he doesn't want an excuse to fire me, because the fact is that i get the work done that needs to get done at a price that he likes. a contract after all is only something to fall back on when there's a disagreement.

    as long as both the employee and employer are happy, then there's no disagreement, and there's no reason for either party to feel bad just because the specifics of the contract aren't being satisfied.

  59. An even greater mystery is, if you are indeed independently wealthy you need to ask yourself what the hell went wrong, that the best use of your wealth you can think of is to insult strangers on the Internet. I'm guessing you're trying to be humorous, but it's not coming through here.

  60. jen, sam just said he's pulling our legs. i think he's continuing because you're encouraging him.

  61. Most people who are paid by the hour, at least the ones I know of, don't have Internet-access desk jobs anyway. So what exactly is the problem here? It's not like the guy at McDonald's can't sell hamburgers because he's too busy looking for a new job on Monster.com. Before the Internet, those two hours a day would likely have been spent standing around the water cooler discussing whatever was on TV last night.

  62. i also get the impression that for this guy "pulling your legs" doesn't imply humor, as much as self-amusement.

  63. Zach-
    Yeah, I know, but it IS odd. You could easily make the argument that discussing stuff you find interesting on the Internet is a waste of time (though I wouldn't do much else with it at work on days like this), but I am at a COMPLETE loss to understand the motivation of a troll.

  64. Jennifer,

    Good point about the water cooler. I almost think of H&R that way, to tell you the truth (my company is too thrifty to provide us with a water cooler.) As a cubicle worker, this is probably the most human interaction I get all day, except for the occasional inter-cubicle coworker banter.

  65. well according to the blog entry above, the poll was actually in regards to "surfing the Web, chatting up colleagues, etc.", not surfing the web exclusively.

    anyway, i get paid hourly (sort of) and spend way more than 2 hours a day surfing the web, and don't feel the least bit bad about it, because my employer's happy with the actual work i get done. again, as long as everyone's happy, who cares about the specifics of the contract?

  66. Oh my goodness. My long day of work is done; time for me to go home.

    Personally, Smacky, I like the Internet far better than the water cooler, especially since I don't watch much TV.

  67. Like the boss says when asked:
    "how many people work here?"

    "About half."

  68. This will take just a moment of your time. This one's for the ladies, especially. (Contains no noise or images.)

  69. Reading all this nonsense here make me more convinced than ever that the future belongs to China.

  70. Am I the only one here that needs unproductive time to be at my highest level of productivity? I can't just sit at my desk non-stop, everyday and be at my peak capacity, I'll burn out. But if I get some fuck-off time (be it surfing, smoking, commenting, whatever), I get right back on track. Sure theer are times when I'm on a roll and work hard for hours on end, but without the mental stretching time, my productivity goes down.

  71. The future clearly belongs to independently wealthy curmudgeons.

  72. Sam's just pissed off because modern conveniences have made work more bearable for us indentured servants. We can't all be landed gentry like him, but at least we can sit on our asses and screw off for a little while on the job now, and still be as productive as ever (to echo Mo's point).
    Regarding Sam's contempt: Why does it seem like really rich people are never happy with how much they have unless someone else suffers for it? I cherish my free internet and air conditioning at work. Heck, sometimes I even don't mind coming in on the weekends, since I can surf and beat the heat for a while in my cubbie-cle. So fuck off, Sam. (And have a nice day.)

  73. What are these "break" and "lunch" things you all keep talking about? Should I be doing those too?

  74. Re: Sam
    As Damon Knight used to say over at GEnie back in the day, don't feed the energy monster!

  75. Speaking of breaks and lunches...I don't really take either, because I realise that my job is not the toughest in the world. I eat at my desk while I'm programming or whatever. Sure, I go to the bathroom and whatnot, but I don't say "well, I guess I better take my 15 minute break now."

  76. Mo-
    I completely agree with you. When I have to write something at work and I'm stumped, I'll go off and have a cigarette or surf the Net for a few minutes, and when I come back the answer usually comes right to me.

  77. What are these "break" and "lunch" things you all keep talking about? Should I be doing those too?

    No. They're nothing important. Absolutely nothing. Now just keep on churning out those TPS reports and I'll make sure the breaks and lunches are handled properly.

  78. Where you work plays a lot into this. A friend of mine is a manager at a Wal-mart distribution center and routinely works a 55-60 hour week with no internet access. I have seen others mostly in government or regulated businesses work 40 hour weeks and probably only work during 60% of the time there. Funny thing is the people I know in competitive businesses with less spare time at work tend to complain about their jobs less. I think its because there is more merit based promotion involved.

  79. Sam's goal is attention. Accomplished through pissing off as many people as possible, what a nice fellow.

  80. Maybe some folks think it's better to be hated than ignored.

  81. Jennifer: "So, sometimes I would literally sit there doing nothing for five or six hours a day, feeling my brain turning into tapioca, and then when a report in need of editing finally came in I'd make all kinds of mistakes, since the five hours of nothingness had temporarily lowered my IQ by a good ninety points, at least."

    You're still not safe. From this month's Discover, "Does e-mail make you dumber"
    'A recent study for the company found that British workers' IQ drop temporarily by an average of 10 points when juggling phones, e-mails and other electronic messages... Just how long it takes to recover is unclear.'

    That would seem to include posting comments on Reason message boards. [Actually, the effect seems be due to inability to focus on the IQ test after spending time multitasking.]

  82. And I grab her ass and whistle all the time, and I'm a blithering idiot.

    But a damned fine-looking one, honey.

    Geez, get a room you two! 😉

    This whole discussion reminds me of Ron Livingston in Office Space describing his use of time at work: "I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work."

  83. My fifteen minutes of work per week is an explosion of causal brilliance.

  84. "but I am at a COMPLETE loss to understand the motivation of a troll."

    dude(ette), have you never found the simple joy of (imaginary) territorial combat with someone whose viewpoint you found just repugnant enough to pretend to laugh about it?

    a long time ago there was a site called http://www.shadowgov.com. basically a call for christian sharia, with a book (that never came out) that detailed the murder of some famous liberal woman via crucifixion after the installment of the biblical government, etc. i had a lot of fun on their boards; suicide can be cured through corporal punishment, god only manifests his rage against homosexuality towards certain homosexuals, and so forth, but carried on with aplomb and a pretty good approximation of humor from some of the forumgoers.

    i started as a troll. but i finished as an anthropologist. it was a thoroughly worthwhile experience, despite the retarded corporal punishment thing.

    they're selling terri shiavo "debriefings" on http://www.kgov.com now. i'm proud of them.

  85. sweet jesus the hits just keep on coming.


  86. Sam,

    It doesn't follow from libertarian premises that your employer has an absolute property right in sweating the absolute maximum possible output from you during your work-time. When you sell eight hours of your labor-power, there's an implied contract stipulating customary understanding of reasonable work pace, etc. Shit, even when the state arrests you they've got (or should have) an implied obligation to take reasonable care to release you in the same condition when your sentence is up.

    Like most liberals, you make the mistake of assuming that all free market libertarians are corporate apologists or "pot-smoking Republicans." That's not true here, at least since Virginia Postrel left.

  87. Chatting up the hottie down the hall at work is never a waste -- it helps keep your hormonal system in fighting trim, which is good for your overall health. Ergo, fewer medical bills, ergo, less strain on the health insurance system, etc.

    Keep America healthy -- chat up a hottie today!

  88. Maybe Jennefer can't whistle, but I'll bet she could grab her ass with both hands and blow Sam the kiss that he richly deserves!

  89. Gimme some beans and you're on, JW.

  90. Sam:

    Do you also like to squeeze peoples' heads between your fingers?

    Seriously.. you need to up the dose.

  91. Dhex-
    But even in your example, there's a difference between, say challenging someone's beliefs versus outright insulting them. It's one thing to go to a Flat Earth Website and ask for an explanation of why ships vanish over the horizon bottom-first; it's another to run in and type "You're all a bunch of stupid twits and I bet you're ugly, too!"

  92. to be fair, sam was playing by the borderline troll game, which is probably a best case scenario if you can't quite wrap your head around something. shadowgov's christian sharia, or gaius's particular version of social ordering, for example, which have their own logics but require a bit of work beforehand to deal with the ideas rather than one's attachment to those ideas.

    and also to be fair, there's a sort of neck and neck fight between libertarians and baby rapists in your average liberal mind. especially the whole "a pox on both their houses" type thing. apparently it's akin to burning down an orphanage.

    "but, surely you must pick a millionaire! how else will this great country survive if you don't pick one of the millionaires?"

    drug legalization doesn't help, but most of it is property rights. we all deal with stereotypes but live with shades of grey, so it's sort of hard - there are, of course, liberals who aren't completely offended by people who differ from them, even in the jew pinko commie fag traitor mecca of new york city.

    then again, one gets used to prefacing weird beliefs with somewhat self-disparaging remarks...i.e. during the election i'd tell the folks in my office that my politics were "batshit crazy libertarian sorta...i say it so you don't have to think it first."

  93. U.S. workers also waste perhaps three hours a day working for the benefit of the federal government. You're not getting that money, so feel free to goof off for three hours every day.

  94. dhex:

    good comments 🙂

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