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back to article Nice job, technology. Now we have to work FIVE TIMES HARDER

Researchers have claimed that modern technology has made workers almost five times more tired productive than they were in the '70s. A business report painted this as entirely good news, hailing the fact that workers are now chained to their smartphones or fondleslabs and can work around the clock. In a paper called the " …

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It's a shame that many companies still insist on daily attendance at the office. Even with high speed internet access and remote working there are many managers who think that 'work from home' means 'take a sneaky day off' and there is no tech to improve that trust.

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Double-edged sword

If I go in to the office I have a two hour journey, but it gives me time to think and relax a bit at the beginning and end of the working day.

If I work from home I usually get up, get started, have a quick lunch and then crack-on. I end up doing a lot more hours wfh and when I finish the wife immediately starts in on 'together' stuff - so I end up not having a regular bit of me time.

I wouldn't want to do either completely - it's nice to switch between them as necessary.

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Coat

Re: Double-edged sword

I enjoy my 'Me Time' too but I would find it very tricky to do so whilst driving ( I have a manual transmission so trying to drive with just one hand would be potentially quite dangerous.....)

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Re: Double-edged sword

I did wonder if my comment would cum across like that.

I certainly get odd looks on the train, that would explain it. :P

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Anonymous Coward

I dislike working from home.

Far too many distractions; I end up spending 10 hours doing 5 hours work and passing it off as 7.5

Much prefer coming into the office getting it done and pissing off home.

Then again I'm not answering any work calls unless I'm on-call.

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Anonymous Coward

there is no tech to improve that trust

Sure there is. Anything that reduces RSI :p

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But does it include...

POETS day for senior management?

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The promise of automation

We were told in the 60s and 70s that 'automation' would mean we would all work 3 or 4 day weeks. Instead those of us with jobs work 7 days and loads of people are out of work. It must be possible to share the benefits out a bit better than this!

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Re: The promise of automation

Not if the companies are going to make the obscene enhanced profits they currently do - why should they employ someone on another salary, when we're prepared to give overtime for free?

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Re: The promise of automation

The trick is to never give overtime for free. Leave work on time (a few mins to finish off is fine), never check your emails on the evening / weekend / holidays and have a separate work and personal mobile phone if the office always rings you.

It's tough being the only one to do this in a company of spineless coworkers but it does catch on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The promise of automation

Exactly. Leave the work mobile at work. If you only have a work mobile, you are then paid for your overtime the same amount as your own phone would cost you per month. Which is 20 euro's?

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Re: The promise of automation

"We were told in the 60s and 70s that 'automation' would mean we would all work 3 or 4 day weeks. Instead those of us with jobs work 7 days and loads of people are out of work. It must be possible to share the benefits out a bit better than this!"

Not from the point of view of the richest 1%, Robert. The way they see it, everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. (Did you realize that the best - indeed, the only really good way - of getting stinking rich is by chiselling money from the poor? You see, there are so many of them, they have so little energy or time to think, and that makes them act in dumb ways).

Those utopian visions of the 50s, 60s and 70s were either innocently purveyed by dreamers - poets, SF writers, and the like - or deliberately put about by those with advantage to gain. Long ago, one of the best bosses I have ever worked for asked me one day, "Tom, how are prices set?" I replied, "Well, take the cost of raw materials plus the costs of manufacture and sales, plus some overhead and a fair markup..." He cut me off with a gesture. "No, that's entirely wrong. Prices are set based on how much the market will bear". I never forgot that, although I wish I had learned it 20 years sooner.

Similarly, pay is set based on what the market will bear. If people can be found to do a job for a given compensation level, that is where the level will be set. There's talk of market forces, but I stopped believing in those about the same time I stopped believing in gods and demons. The very rich and powerful people who ultimately own most of the world are naturally keen to get steadily richer and more powerful - which logically entails "never giving a sucker an even break" on a planetary scale (where everyone reading this thread is certainly one of the suckers). We are suckers not only when we buy, but when we sell our time - the only substantial wealth most of us will ever have.

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Re: The promise of automation @Semaj

Good luck with your promotion prospects! It seems at the moment that only those who are prepared to go the extra yard are even considered for advancements.

Whilst I agree that it should not be this way, I am increasingly upset by the divisive nature of the appraisal system that most companies use now to measure performance. It now appears to be used as a tool to get high-skilled, expensive people out of the door because of arbitrary 'poor performance', rather than a mechanism to reward people good at their jobs.

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Re: The promise of automation

Instead of the same number of workers having the same salary and more time off while the business continues to make good profits, we now have less workers having the same salary (which in many cases is less in real terms) and less time off while the business makes obscene profits.

" It must be possible to share the benefits out a bit better than this!"

It's become a vicious circle. Employees with less free time and less real take-home pay = less money to spend and less time to spend it in = less profits for businesses, who in turn, because they now have come to expect huge profits, fire a few workers to keep their profits high.

Unfortunately there is no silver bullet. Say a company started to hire more employees with more time off, it has more costs than it's competitors while having same income level, so less profits. If it's a privately owned company where the owners are unselfish folk caring for their workers this might have a chance. If it's a publicly listed company, the shareholders would insist on taking steps to maximise their profits.

Bottom line seems to be, if you want more time off and more money, start your own business and build it up to the point where it runs itself, because that's the way the deck is stacked

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Re: the only substantial wealth most of us will ever have

So true. It's a terrible deal but still better than unemployment. Having had a run of that in the early 90s which lasted more than three years I'll take selling my time for peanuts any day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The promise of automation @Semaj

Promotion? Screw promotions.

I'm a contractor exactly because A) I enjoy the technical aspects of my job, but more importantly B) I hate politics.

Personally, I'm happy to get paid (handsomely) for my work, and others can take part in the back-stabbing and maneuvering that comes with politicking and trying to get promoted.

If a company wants me to carry a work phone around outside of '9-5', they can pay me.

In fact, I recently worked a place where they expected this without pay. It took supreme willpower not to laugh in their faces...

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Re: The promise of automation

If you assume that all those out of work would like to be in work, then yes it should be possible.

However, the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work. Certainly they don't want to spend the time acquiring the skills necessary to do the sort of jobs most people reading this are doing.

The only way things will change is when not working ceases to become a lifestyle choice, and when taxes on employment are reduced such that you get to keep more of your pay. Unfortunately, the lefties will moan about it and labour would vote against it because its their client state (the unemployed / public sector) that would bear the pain of making their own way in the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The promise of automation

it really depends on where you work and how you approach it. I have a company blackberry, and can check email and get calls 24/7. But I don't... If I wasn't handsomly compensated for being available and doing overtime, I just wouldn't do it.

If i am expected to take calls or work out of hours i explicitly get standby pay, and callout pay if i do anything. If I'm not getting standby it's my choice to answer the phone or not. If I do answer, it immediately goes down as a, minimum 2 hour, callout paid at either time and a half or doubletime depending on when it is.

Once you reach a certain level of management in my place you don't get any standby, callout, or overtime, pay. But in theory the massive basic pay and benefits hike you get take account of that. In reality I know several people actively trying not to get promoted, though, as they will lose out.

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WTF?

Re: the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work.

Prove it. A link to a story in the Daily Mail doesn't count.

This is such a load of bollocks. The vast majority of people who are out of work don't want to be out of work. The fact that some of them won't work for £4 an hour doesn't make them workshy, it just means they know that's never going to be enough to live on.

Meanwhile in the news atm top american execs get over $100 million a year. Do you genuinely believe anyone works hard enough to "earn" that? While people caring for the sick and dying get less than minimum wage?

Typically, you know the price of everything and the value of nothing....

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Re: The promise of automation @Semaj

I don't pick any issues up out of office hours and I have no problem what so ever advancing my career, the best way to advance your career is to keep moving to better positions, not beg your current company to value you.

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Re: The promise of automation

"However, the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work."

Citation needed.

You should learn the difference between idiot animal herd prejudice and hard facts.

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Re: the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work.

"Re: the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work.

Prove it. A link to a story in the Daily Mail doesn't count."

Over 2 million Eastern Europeans managed to move here and find work. More still arrive every day, and still they find work.

"The fact that some of them won't work for £4 an hour doesn't make them workshy"

Yes, it does. It really does. Though its £6 per hour minimum wage, which undermines your argument considerably.

A minimum wage job (found at the end of most streets), worked for 65 hours per week (the minimum I spend commuting and working) would bring in over £20k.

"Meanwhile in the news atm top american execs get over $100 million a year."

Thats totally irrelevant.

Typically, you know nothing....

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Re: The promise of automation

""However, the reality is that a whacking great percentage of those people don't want to work."

Citation needed."

As above, 2 million eastern europeans coming here and finding work. More coming and working every day.

"You should learn the difference between idiot animal herd prejudice and hard facts."

And you should learn the difference between intelligent thought and your emotions. Just because reality isn't what you would like it to be, doesn't mean it isn't real.

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Re: The promise of automation

> We were told in the 60s and 70s that 'automation' would mean we would all work 3 or 4 day weeks.

The problem is, as I have said elsewhere, that we were promised more free time because machines would do all the work. Trouble is, our world is based around the idea that we have to work to get stuff. If we don't work, we have to do without. So working less is what we all strive for, yet "unemployment" is blamed as a social ill.

So how do we transition from a world where we have to work, to one where we do not? We have two polar opposites that don't neatly and proportionately dovetail together.

I'd much rather not have to work. I don't want to do nothing, I just have a stack of worthwhile projects that I would like to get through before I die and most of them would benefit the human race. They're just more interesting than what I do to live.

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One-way traffic

"The difference today is that we live in an 'always on' society where lines between work and leisure have become blurred by communications technology."

But only in one direction - towards leisure being infiltrated by work. Mr Dowd to the contrary notwithstanding, very few bosses will be happy to find a bunch of "their" peons standing around the water cooler having a chit-chat - even if their phones are on. It's perfectly grand for employees to deal with "three or four" emails on their commute (which, as HMRC never tires of assuring us, is part of our copious free time), during dinner, or even in the middle of the night. But just let the boss find you playing games in the middle of the afternoon in the office... Or even doing personal shopping on the Web.

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Unhappy

Re: One-way traffic

"But just let the boss find you playing games in the middle of the afternoon in the office... Or even doing personal shopping on the Web."

Not even possible... computers are locked down to limit what you can install, web proxies are locked down to limit what sites you can see etc etc and it will only get worse. In some future reality, business owners will be asking their sysadmins to do an in-depth review of web logs and suddenly we'll find that el Reg and other similar sites disappearing off our browsers, and then it will be REALLY shitty

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Really?

"like Microsoft Office ...... allowing people to work at much faster speeds"

I find Microsoft Office has always slowed me down compared to other, pre-WYSIWYG tools! The use of inappropriate tools (like Excel rather than a database for storing and parsing data, or a proper document preparation system for technical reports) is IMHO one of the biggest productivity blocks around!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

Try using sharepoint. It is invariably an obstructive bucket of shit.

Whilst I don't think it's particularly good anyway, I have to admit part of it is because a lot of people completely bastardise its use.

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Joke

Re: Really?

You'll be telling us next that PC doesn't actually stand for "Problem Creator"...

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Re: Really?

MS have given us one great gift, the excuse that no-one ever questions: "the network is down".

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Recent Economist Article

This article is quite interesting, but the highest rated comment from 'DS Sim' is very interesting indeed. Screw working in either half of Korea.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/working-hours?sort=3#sort-comments

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BYOD

Not only reading at work... Reading on the toilet

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Anonymous Coward

Further confirmation that things are progressing nicely....

As a business owner, I've found that the advances in technology over the last 10 years really have made an incredible difference to the value I extract from my employees. We've fostered an ethos of 'always on', and just rolled out the latest Samsung/iPhone to everyone. I know that if I have a query, or an idea, there's always someone there to bounce of, any time. Those who don't embrace the need to be on the ball 24/7, well they don't survive too long at my place. High fliers only please.

This has led to another aspect of work life improving too. The other day I found a couple of employees laughing about a business trip we sent a junior manager on. He'd had a child last year and they were joking that he was going for the 'world's most absent father award'. I could not have been more proud.

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Trollface

Re: Further confirmation that things are progressing nicely....

<-- You forgot this.

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Re: Further confirmation that things are progressing nicely....

this is sarcasm, yes ?

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People aren't livestock

You'll be smiling right up until a burned out ex employee whose life has crashed and burned train wreck style turns up at work with a backpack and a semi automatic...

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Re: People aren't livestock

That's one reason for the security guard in the front. He's supposed to either shoot down the crazed ex-worker or at the least hit the panic button or delay the looney until further help arrives. And if the looney takes out a few peons in the process, well we can always get some more.

At the rate we're going, we'll start seeing corporate lives like in William Gibson's cyberpunk novels: people sworn body and soul to a company just to get hired. Probably won't even pay, just a coffin bed and synthetic food in the galley twice a day. And they'll LOVE it, too, as the alternative will be a life of crime or slow, agonizing starvation...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: People aren't livestock

Our employees are form the basis of our enterprise value. We care, nurture and protect them from all external influences so they can concentrate on creating great product. For instance, we've recently trialled a new scheme that allows us to outsource parenting needs via a partnership with a fabulous new au-pair service. In addition to the conversion of our under utilised break room into a dormitory, it's meant that during crunch times our staff can rest on premises and continue to deliver without having to worry about whether little Johnny has someone watching him during his school production of 'cats'. Time not spent delivering economic benefit is time wasted - that's our mantra.

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Why Are users getting paid less then?

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Blurred lines

Yes, the lines are blurred, but they are still there. If you draw them yourself.

If your boss expects you to be on defcon 2 around the clock, make sure that your salary is matching, or start looking for a new job.

If you are not expected to check your emails around the clock, but you do it anyway, be advised that you are most likely not such a big screaming deal that it can't wait until tomorrow. The mail will still be there in the inbox.

My former boss was always working. Even in the holidays, we'd get mails where he responded and commented on various matters. It ended one sunday on the golf course, where he suddenly died at the age of 52.

This confirmed my mantra that when you're off duty, stay off duty. If I call someone on business matters and I get the sense that he or she is off-duty, I apologize and hang up. A business contact mailed me and asked if it was okay to postpone sending me a tender until the next week because he was on holiday. I told him of course, and also wished him a nice holiday and would he please stop answering emails. When I met him later, he thanked me for the reminder to go offline in the holiday.

Sure, there are times when the situation calls for digging in, but let it be an informed decision, that "now we fix this" and then go back to normal.

We can change this, people, if we all remind ourselves that we are probably not that important, stay offline when we're not at work, and respect other people's off-duty time.

I notice it is already spreading here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Blurred lines

Prepare to have your business fail then. We've implemented a 24/7 follow the sun policy at my business, establishing strategic offices in various tax havens with workers who are more then willing to forgo outdated lifestyle issues like 'holidays' and 'time away from the office', people with a much higher work ethic and a 'can do' attitude. We have removed the need for them to worry about home issues by offering a laundry service.

It's all about providing value for our customers. There should be no such thing as a holiday when you have to meet their expectations.

The workers in our UK office have embraced it - we offer a very generous compensation package, starting at £27K and within five years, if you've shown your attitude you could be earning £38K. With the governments excellent 'Help To Buy' policy, some of are staff are now even buying 2 bedroom flats nearby for £300K. I've given them an additional loan personally at a very attractive rate of 6% PA to help them on the ladder.

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Re: Blurred lines

> Prepare to have your business fail then

Business or heart failure.

Your call.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Blurred lines

The honourable man - he who has the interest of his customers paramount within his heart, will always choose the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that they get a terrific experience. It's what separates those of us who have chosen to dedicate our lives to the pursuit of excellence from the also rans. It's why I'm currently generating a return on investment for our shareholders that has them salivating at the thought of each quarterly report.

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FAIL

I wonder what business magazine you're cribbing your ideas from.

If you were really all that hot at work, you wouldn't be reading El Reg, much less commenting on it.

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Trollface

> I wonder what business magazine you're cribbing your ideas from.

He's clearly trolling. Absolute BS.

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Anonymous Coward

Forbes. And being an extreme philanthropist, I've delegated the responsibility of posting these responses to a workfare employee who is currently interning for us in order to keep their benefits. I like to give something back to the community.

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Naaaah......

I don't buy this, I have to say.

There is a certain machismo in the "always on" culture that people, men and women, really do love to complain about. "Look at me, I'm doing my emails at ten pm......."

If technology really were that invasive, if it really were that controlling, more people would be pressing that OFF button.

For me, when I leave work and my work mobile gets turned off, my private one is the where my wife knows she can get me.

Works for us both......

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Re: Naaaah......

"If technology really were that invasive, if it really were that controlling, more people would be pressing that OFF button."

I think you have made an erroneous assumption in that 'more people' are aware that this is actually happening to them (from an objective pov).

perhaps..

"If technology really were that invasive, if it really were that controlling, and more people were aware of how it is affecting them, they would be pressing that OFF button."

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Re: Naaaah......

"If technology really were that invasive, if it really were that controlling, more people would be pressing that OFF button."

It's not just that. The work standard is basically REQUIRING it of workers. Put simply, if you can't answer the phone in the middle of the night, don't expect to have a cubicle in the morning: someone else is there with YOUR job, willing to undercut you for your position.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Naaaah......

"There is a certain machismo in the "always on" culture that people, men and women, really do love to complain about. "Look at me, I'm doing my emails at ten pm......." "

This can easily be faked... Outlook has options to delay the sending of a message to a pre-determined time of your choosing, so it's pretty straightforward to make it look like you've been working until late even when you've actually been enjoying a couple of glasses of wine in front of the telly!

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