With layoffs galore and companies asking staff to take unpaid vacations or cut down to four-day workweeks, a lot of editors are likely wondering how to get everything done with fewer people in less time. (Maybe next week I'll blog about how to go about doing that...)
So it struck me as a little funny to be reading an article in the New York Times about occupying yourself with busywork in the hope you won't get sacked.
"[W]hen business is verrry slow and the possibility of layoffs icily real, looking busy is no joke. In retail and real estate, restaurants and law offices, many workers are working hard to look necessary — even when they don’t have all that much to do."
It makes sense that this habit would evolve in industries where business has slowed down – where customers and clients are quickly becoming scarce – but in magazines, even when ad pages are down, you still have to put out the issue. I would think the challenge for us is how to manage an increasing workload; am I wrong? Is anyone out there mastering the art of killing time?
Regardless, everyone is working harder to keep their jobs. Just try not to be obvious about it.
"Experts on workplace behavior say that mustering a token show for the boss can backfire. If a worker isn’t already regarded as diligent, 'This is a bad time to manage the impression that you’re a hard worker,' said Robert Giacalone, a business school professor at Temple University. 'There’s fear out there, and that fear generates suspicion among people in power that workers are trying to manipulate their images because they’re afraid.'"
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.