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Ask Slashdot: Does Your Job Need To Exist? 343

An anonymous reader writes "PBS has an article about the growth of jobs that really don't need to exist. It includes an interview with professor David Graebner, who's known for his 2013 article 'BS jobs.' The premise is simple: as technology has automated huge portions of work that used to fill the days for millions of workers, many jobs simply involve less work. How often have you sat at your desk browsing the internet instead of being productive? If your company is such that you can aggregate that lost time across a bunch of workers, you could probably reduce the headcount significantly if everybody just stayed on task all the time. But that's not even an expectation at a lot of companies. Graebner ballparks the number of effectively useless jobs at around 20%. (It's not that the individual workers are useless, just that there are, for example, 12 people doing the work of 10.) So, how about it: how much actual productivity goes into your 40-hour workweek? What about your co-workers? How many people could your company fire if everybody just paid attention all the time?"
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Ask Slashdot: Does Your Job Need To Exist?

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  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @05:15PM (#46968783) Homepage Journal

    To an uneducated minion like you it may look like they're they're playing golf and having huge lunches with their buddies.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. They're, ummm, liaising with customers and, ummm, influencing key decision makers. I forgot, they're holistically enacting marketplace appraisal strategies at the C-suite level.

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @05:30PM (#46968877)
    Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh - after that I sorta space out for an hour.
    Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
    Peter Gibbons: Yeah, 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.
    Peter Gibbons: You see, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
    Bob Porter: Don't- don't care?
    Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation? And here's another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.
    Bob Porter: Eight?
    Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:19PM (#46969067) Homepage Journal

    We're running out of work to do, but we don't have any socially acceptable way to distribute wealth w/o work.

    Of course not, that would be communism.

  • There is, apparently, a huge shortage of English teachers.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.