Be a Time Killer Queen
Open plan offices are wonderful things. They encourage people to interact with each other, make us stick to our clear desk and hot desk policies and force us to stay off some more interesting corners of the internet.
What they also do is allow us to become a team of office curtain twitchers, keeping a corner of an eye on what people are doing or looking at.
It’s this ability which recently drew my attention to a colleague. He was sitting opposite his line manager, so his screen couldn’t be seen by them. What he didn’t know however was that I was making use of the aforementioned hot desking policy, and was sitting a few desks behind him. This allowed me to observe as he spent at least ten to fifteen minutes looking intently at his screen whilst opening and then closing folders and files. He didn’t read them, he didn’t organise them; he spent that long just opening and closing them.
We can all waste time on occasion, and sometimes it’s really valuable to take a break and think about something different (which is where our excellent list of reasons that you know you’ve been in local government too long came from). Here are some of my favourite ways that I’ve seen local authority staff waste time.
Have a meeting
I have seen meetings set up to discuss what would be said at a pre-meeting, which would decide the agenda for an agenda setting meeting for a final meeting with three people attending.
Meetings are a wonderful way of wasting time, usually in one hour chunks, where you can sit in plain sight but out of hearing and have a chat about the weather, all the while knowing that everyone around you thinks you are working hard. You can even attend a larger meeting and just drift off into your own thoughts.
Meetings: where minutes are kept, but hours are lost.
Walk quickly from place to place
This works best if you can combine carrying a pile of papers with a look of mild annoyance. Sometimes reading some of the papers en route also adds a certain (as the French would say) I don’t know what. This is good for a while, but is often only used by fit officers.
Just don’t carry too many pens with you as you go: you need to look on important business so you aren’t stopped, and generally how important you are perceived to be is inversely proportional to how many pens you carry.
Walk slowly from place to place
Similar to the option above, this is used by those less fit individuals, and works best if you can have a face which looks like you really don’t want to go to wherever it is you’re pretending to go to.
Ask about something
Look around you: if you are also in local government you should be able to spot several teams of people, most of whom you’ve never met or that you don’t even know what they do. Fear not, they probably don’t know either.
Go over to them and ask them what their role is. Use this as an opportunity to practice your active listening skills, but be prepared should they somehow find a way to link their work and yours.
Note: this tip may not work in six months time due to the fact that most of those teams will not exist and you will probably have their workloads.
Why not read a blog or two? Doesn’t matter if it’s work related or not, as long as there are no pictures all text looks the same from a distance.
Leave a comment or two on them as well, just to show you care (hint, hint).
In the spirit of Big Society, I’m going to ask you all to contribute here: Have you got any other ideas to share? What are your favourite ways of killing a little time in the workplace?