The Secret Lives of Office Workers

Posted on August 11, 2010


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Thanks to Freshly Pressed, I saw the clever young office worker who quit her job via a series of dry erase notices she sent to fellow worker’s emails. The punch line was that she calculated that her boss spent almost 20 hours a week playing Farmville.  Whether that was a hoax or not, it got me to thinking.

Since I’m self-employed, nobody really cares how I spend my day, except my daughter Yael, who occasionally asks me, “Don’t you ever work?” when I return her emails too quickly. She usually asks this when I am in a sales slump and therefore, in a precariously depressed state, in which I spend my entire day checking my blog hits, searching for pre-owned Eileen Fisher clothing on eBay, and commenting on the out-of-this-world cuteness of the ever-increasing numbers of babies and dogs that my Facebook Friends seems to be accumulating.

Because I’m self-employed, when I don’t work, nobody pays me. And even when I do work, nobody but me pays my health insurance (at special astronomical rates, reserved for hypochondriacs and for the self-employed). Nobody contributes to my retirement fund but me. Nobody gives me bonuses for coming in on weekends or holidays or for working late. Nobody reimburses me for taking clients out for lunch or dinner. It’s an easy correlation: Sell houses, make money. Don’t sell houses, don’t make money.

But I do have friends who work in offices and have jobs that afford benefits like health insurance, dental insurance, overtime bonuses, expense account lunches, and birthday cupcakes. Presumably, in order to garner these benefits, they are supposed to be doing something with their day that vaguely relates to whatever the company they work for does/produces. Yet, one of my friends was able to run two personal online businesses from her job.

I’m in no way inferring that most people don’t spend some of their time actually working. I’m just inferring that some of the time, for some people, the company’s dime pays for social outings, emailing, Facebooking, Twittering, eBaying, searching singles sites, and of course, managing one’s livestock on Farmville.

So, I’m really curious now to find out what kinds of other things employed people do at work that I might not know about. And by the way, if you are one of my friends and you think I am writing about you, I’m not. I’m writing about the friends who aren’t reading this.