Has the traditional workday become an interminable torture for both you and your boss?
Even if you break it up with sessions of meandering to get a fourth cup of coffee, meditating, scheduling pizza delivery, carrying Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” to the restroom, thoroughly analyzing the “Hot enough for ya?” conundrum and watching video marathons of frolicking ferrets, do you still find yourself collapsing on the sofa after you finally reach home?
According to the Wall Street Journal, a German company called Digital Enabler is pioneering a game-changing way to approach earning a living: a five-hour workday.
Research has shown that even good employees are truly productive only slightly more than half the day. (This includes RESEARCHERS, who by mid-afternoon are invariably asking things like, “If the election were being held today … would you be caught dead wearing an outfit like that skank in Accounts Payable?”)
So Digital Enabler and other firms — without cutting pay or benefits — have decided that it’s prudent to capitalize on those sharp, focused hours and then shoo the employees away from the office for the rest of the day.
Some employees relish the flexibility, but other wage slaves should take a “be careful what you wish for” stance. The five hours require a distraction-free, nose-to-the grindstone dedication. The day is shorter, but you are expected to PRODUCE.
To achieve that goal, lunch is pushed until after work hours, cellphones and social media are banned (“Ve haff vays of making you not talk”), and idle chitchat is seriously discouraged. (This is forcing employees to choreograph intricate mime routines that transmit the message “Buy my kid’s marching band candy, or you’d dead to me — dead. Until I need help with the Hawkins account.”)
Yes, tech-addicted millennials may have a hard time adjusting to the deprivations. Not so much old Bert the Hermit, who has been in the mailroom since the days of the Pony Express. (“Wahoo! The extra hours off will give me time to go to the library and discover new ways to explore the boss’s gastrointestinal tract. Move over, Lewis and Clark!”)
Normally sociable people, afraid of lapsing and raising their supervisor’s ire, will retaliate against co-workers’ greetings with a poor man’s impression of Robert DeNiro in “Taxi Driver.” (“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to ME???”)
I worry about workers having to binge their forbidden fruits. Each morning, they’ll unload all their overnight sexual conquests, political diatribes and family disputes as they stampede to the timeclock. Then after work, they’ll fight over strangers they encounter on the sidewalk. (“Look, buddy, I know it’s your bagel, but I’m posting a selfie with this bad boy!”)
I know it will make some laborers jealous, but the innovation is really geared more toward office workers than retail clerks, assembly line workers, first responders or contractors. (“Without the distraction of radio or stereotypical blue-collar banter, we got the first floor all wired ahead of schedule. Tomorrow I’ll tell you how to get out of your hallway without being electrocuted. G’night.”)
If the new schedule does catch on here, employers will revel in the assurance that their employees aren’t just sitting there daydreaming about fishing trips or hot dates.
No, they’ll be daydreaming, “Forget bass! I wonder if I can talk him into a four-hour workday?”
Contact Danny Tyree at firstname.lastname@example.org.