Bored at Work

Monday, July 21, 2008

Want to join the Bored at Work Network? Well, it's most likely that you're already a member. Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, explains how the most influential information network on the planet works.

A question for the Bored At Work Network:
What’s the smartest thing your company is doing to cope with inflation? And what’s the dumbest? Comment below!

Pass this link to your friends, relatives and colleagues in the workforce. We’ll do a radio segment on it on Wednesday.

(By the way, don’t get yourself fired: be anonymous or evasive about your identity or your employer’s if needed to protect yourself!)


Jonah Peretti

Comments [58]

johnny from Brooklyn

Why do all the libraries in the city leave all their light on all night?
Save the energy and put that saving in the library staffs pocketbooks.
Private companies tend to use motion sensitive switching.

Jul. 23 2008 11:39 AM
Jim Pharo from NYC

I am self-employed, so my company is just me.

The smartest thing I've done to cope with the current economic crisis (not sure where this "inflation" moniker is coming from) is also the dumbest thing: raise my rates.

I see lots of businesses doing the same thing. At a time where sales are down and costs are up, they are raising prices and lowering quality. As the saying goes, "things that can't go on forever, don't." At some point, businesses that drive away their customers with too-high prices and too-lousy quality won't be able to continue.

Jul. 23 2008 08:21 AM
ratgirlny from somewhere in the metro area

I work in healthcare IT, so cost-cutting is a fact of life even before inflation. My company won't even spring for coffee for employees so people waste lots of time going out to find coffee. The dumbest small cost-cutting move is to buy the cheapest paper possible for the printers. The paper is really thin and flimsy, and jams constantly. We waste probably a quarter of the paper to jams - how is this a savings measure?

Overall, the company is totally cheapskate, and it shows - good employees leave quickly, and no one puts in more than their mandated 8 hours.

Jul. 22 2008 07:29 PM
M. from Brooklyn

Not necessarily with my current company but my experience with a few over the years.

Smart: Forcing employees to become salaried so the company doesn't have to pay overtime.

Dumb: Choosing to let smart, ambitious employees leave a company by not acknowledging their hard work and potential. Companies don't seem to realize that giving an employee a raise might be less costly than finding a replacement, which costs money and time and disrupts remaining employees' work.

Jul. 22 2008 05:23 PM

Dumb - not paying whatever additional charges the phone company required to ensure the on air phone line moved with the radio station. If I hear the spud ray designation one more time, I may have to start mailing potatoes to WNYC.

Smart - my company keeping ancient tampon machines in the women's rooms - still 10 cents a piece!

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
Glad2BeOut from NYC

I agree with Bee...most employers these days are not giving raises. Instead they are keeping profits for themselves. There's not much we can do, except find another job that well respects their workers. The company I've worked for cut cost in the winter time by not turning on the heat. We all had blankets and our coats on...frozen to bones. Such a bad place to work for so glad I'm not there anymore:)

Jul. 22 2008 12:03 PM
Liv from Manhattan

Well, it's not my company, but I recently posted my resume on Monster and instead of the usual slew of Temp agencies and employment firms contacting me, I was contacted yesterday but the HR department of a finance company curious to know if I'd cover for a maternity leave. Obviously goood for them and for me as me both cut out the middle man!

Thought it was resourceful and smart on the part of the HR rep.

Jul. 22 2008 11:50 AM
Bee from Hoboken, NJ

My employer has not given any cost of living increase in about 12 years, but gives raises based on 'merit.' Every year I've been here (going on 5) the annual raise is less than the prior year for everyone here, even though we are given more projects. There is no place for promotion. A designer is a designer, a carpenter is a carpenter, a sculptor is a sculptor.

So, they give us more work for less money. Pretty smart.

The dumbest thing we do is continue to work here while making relatively less money ever year we stay on.

Jul. 22 2008 11:37 AM

My company has mandated that anyone who leaves the light on at their desk while they get lunch must pay $5. The money will supposedly go to an as-of-yet-undetermined charity at the end of the year, although I don't think it's really being enforced.

Jul. 22 2008 11:24 AM

My former company tried to save money by outsourcing the employee annual reviews.

Jul. 22 2008 10:43 AM
inCharlotte from Charlotte, NC

I am a contractor that sits inside another facility. So often I am privy to seeing what happens in that company and not dealing with it. However, recently, something has taken us all aback. To cut costs they have locked the supply cabinet. To get ONE pen, pencil, or folder - you have to be approved by the manager, then the person with the key has to go and get it and bring it to you.

Jul. 22 2008 10:30 AM
boredonfridays from Manhattan

My company did away with Summer hours. This year with business being so bad there are no summer hours, however by 2:00 on Friday salary employees seem to vanish, but non-salary employees are looking for ways to pass the afternoon. Seems that if they just sent everyone home and turned off the lights, they'd save more than paying people to linger around "just in case".

Jul. 21 2008 11:27 PM
John from Brookline, MA

Not too long ago, everyone was touting the tremendous productivity enhancement the internet made - electronic invoicing, instant world-wide-marketing-presence at almost no cost, instant communication at all hours and locations, blah blah blah - I've begun to wonder if anyone is subtracting all those non-work-related attention units wasted by the hordes of knowledge-workers.

I'm retired now, so I can waste as much time as I please. But I want all the rest of you poor slobs to take off those headphones, and GET BACK TO WORK!!!


Joe Retiree

Jul. 21 2008 02:01 PM
Liv from Manhattan

awww, you're taking-the-michael, surely.

Jul. 21 2008 01:05 PM
hjs from 11211


Jul. 21 2008 12:51 PM
Gary from Manhattan


The stairway has railings. Also, people can sit down on a step and push themselves up to the next step. Upper body strength is dramatically improved, as well as enhancing cardiopulmonary health.

Jul. 21 2008 12:45 PM
Liv from Manhattan

How does your employer enforce this policy? It's a little cruel given the fact that your company is on the19th floor! What if the bitcher and complainer is disabled?

Jul. 21 2008 12:29 PM
Gary from Manhattan

hjs: what's your boss' email address. I'd like to recommend our cost savings plan to your company.

Jul. 21 2008 12:25 PM
hjs from 11211


poor sweet alice should we all go into mourning until the sun comes out. if the suncomes out. we need to start laughing at ourselves a bit more. i don't think things will ever get better. the empire is ending

Jul. 21 2008 12:15 PM
Liv from Manhattan


You will probably not be THAT bored at work as a waiter. Of course I was working recently at an Irish bar that was suffering so there was a lack of customers and when that happens someone in management usually requires you start cleaning random things like menu holders and salt and pepper shakers.

If you get in at a decent restaurant you can earn $700- $900 a week in tips. I have held jobs all over and by far the best was a stint I did at the Four Seasons. I am an actor so have become an expert in grapping work when I can as well as fitting in to a large variety of jobs. Of course there is a recession so any commission-based jobs are a bit risky.

Jul. 21 2008 12:05 PM
Alice from Westchester

Some nerve talking with humor about how people are bored at work when the unemployment rate is so high.

Peretti is the least intelligent and influential guest so far I've heard on Brian's show.......sheesh! Way too mundane!

Jul. 21 2008 12:03 PM
hjs from 11211

always a bit sad when brian leaves, wishing he could do a 4 hour show

Jul. 21 2008 12:02 PM
stephen from columbus circle

michel de certeau talked about something similar to this in his book 'the practice of everyday life'. the term he used was 'la perruque' which means wig in french. the idea behind it is that workers can/do things on the clock that serve their own personal needs/desires.

Jul. 21 2008 11:59 AM
hjs from 11211

there's no business reason for your job to give u access to the net. I can tell u it was a big mistake when my firm gave everyone here access.

Jul. 21 2008 11:58 AM
Sarah from Manhattan

Anyone seen Craigslist under the casual encounters segment? Talk about bored at work!

Jul. 21 2008 11:57 AM

Protecting the bottom line seems to be the only thing that matters to my employer:
-When an employee leaves for any reason, we don't rehire anyone to fill that position. Eventually my department will have three people doing the job of 20
-They have re-defined COLA increase. My company's official stance is that a COLA increase is .5%. Since annual merit increases are averaging 1%, they are clearly offering more than COLA, so everyone can feel good about it.
-Tuition reimbursement $4K per year. This doesn't even cover one course at most schools
-$.25 to the dollar match on 401(k). So generous.

Jul. 21 2008 11:55 AM
O from Forest Hills

Smart thing:

brought me on as a temp

Dumb thing:

won't give me a perm job with benefits. I don't work as hard because of this.

Jul. 21 2008 11:53 AM
eastvillage from nyc

Thanks LIV, HJS...Tillie, out of curiosity, what figure do you have mind when you say you are a well paid professional? And to be that and bored, is that common in your profession?

Jul. 21 2008 11:53 AM
Jen from brooklyn

I work for a marketing agency. We are in desperate need for color and large format printers. Rather than paying the costs for such hardware (as they always have before) the company is now sending out print work, which costs exponentially more than if we were to print in-house.

Jul. 21 2008 11:51 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I work for a consultant company that operates virtually. Many of our staff meetings and client meetings happen in Second Life - a virtual world that allows cost savings for travel.

Jul. 21 2008 11:50 AM
Laura from NYC

"Stern" is the name of NYU's Business School.

Jul. 21 2008 11:50 AM
Not too bored at work from New York

The best and worst thing my company is doing to cope with the economic downturn is not replacing people who leave, simply distributing their job duties among the remaining employees.

This is great because it saves the company a lot of money and prepares the company well for the economic downturn. But its problematic because it increases everyone's workload and I think has the potential to really affect morale in the company, since there are fewer people and no new blood. I also worry that eventually it will start to affect the product (we are in publishing).

Jul. 21 2008 11:49 AM
Catfish J. Rivers from Elizardbreff, NJ

I have been permitted to work remotely 5 days a week. My productions has increased and I no longer pay for gas or tolls and get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Totally a win-win. This was the smartest thing since I never have to be face to face with a customer to perform my duty.

The dumbest thing, I am told by employees who have not been granted the privilege to work from home, is that the boss is rationing the pens, keeping them hidden until he sees the ink has run dry from the one already in use...

Jul. 21 2008 11:48 AM
JD from NYC

a company wide salary freeze.

Jul. 21 2008 11:48 AM
Sally from New York State Supreme Court

I'm never bored at work. I'm currently bored on jury duty. I work for a nonprofit with a social justice mission--there's no such thing as "coping", just *doing*.

Jul. 21 2008 11:48 AM
Gary from Manhattan

We have a unique program at our company. For those employees who incessantly bitch and complain about everything, they must now use the stairway to reach their desks on the 19th floor, which saves the building on energy costs related to the elevator usage. Moreover, they are in better shape now and that reduces our health insurance costs.

Jul. 21 2008 11:47 AM
Helene Papageorge from Queens

the smartest thing done at the food co-op was opting to no longer stock bottled water. Instead they stock alternative products like water filters for pitchers and faucets and containers that are re-usable and are able to clean and sanitize easily.

Jul. 21 2008 11:45 AM

I am temping right on earth did people cope before the invention of the internet? I guess work took longer to accomplish so they didn't have enough time to screw around.

Jul. 21 2008 11:44 AM
Zach from UWS

Wow. It's like you're watching me right now Brian.

Jul. 21 2008 11:43 AM
Robert from NYC

Are you kidding, even many of the bosses are bored!

Jul. 21 2008 11:43 AM
Moiz Kapadia from NJ

i'm at work, i listen to brian and leonard everyday

Jul. 21 2008 11:43 AM
hjs from 11211

i'm at work and i listen via the net

Jul. 21 2008 11:43 AM
Tillie from Manhattan

I'm at work right now. I'm a well-paid professional, but my job is so mind-numbing that I'd go crazy without WNYC.

Jul. 21 2008 11:43 AM


waiting tables.. usually pays really really well and you can afford a New York City life. Draw back? Well, when you hit mid 30's you start to feel a little disjointed from the staff who become younger and younger. Also, bosses are usually mean and have very little respect for their own employees. But it's usually very entertaining.

Jul. 21 2008 11:33 AM
hjs from 11211

i'd like one of those also, let me know if u find one.

Jul. 21 2008 11:23 AM
eastvillage from nyc

Dumbest thing: Instead of hiring a full-time employee(s), the company hires temps who have to be trained and often leave soon after figureing out the boring job. All in effort not to incur the expenses of a full timer, but then the work suffers and the process is repeated.
Smartest thing: Not doing more dumb things.

Jul. 21 2008 11:20 AM
amanda from 10012

i work at a publishing company --so, ha, inflation is not our biggest problem but --

dumbest: about a year ago, they stopped providing plastic cutlery in the kitchen as the most noticeable change in an "act green" initiative. normally, i'd be all for it (i don't use them anyway), but the styrofoam cups have remained, SO...

smartest: AC doesn't pump nearly as much as it did last summer. i used to have to wear jackets/sweaters/etc indoors at all times last summer. much more comfortable this summer.

Jul. 21 2008 11:15 AM
eastvillage from nyc

i'm always bored at work? Are there any interesteing jobs that pay NYC living wage that also are not destructive? Without having to go back to school for another degree?

Jul. 21 2008 11:09 AM
Tillie from Manhattan


Regarding my relative, a Starbuck's barista:


Cutting back the baristas' hours by asking them to come in to work a full shift and then sending them home after one or two hours if business is slow, thereby reducing the owner's costs and the baristas' take home pay;

Keeping staffing down by rotating baristas so that they are working very irregular hours: 5 a.m. to noon one day, 4 p.m. to 1l p.m., the next;

Not giving the baristas more than one day off so as to avoid additional paid days off; sending the barista home just before he or she reachs 40 hours, the "two days per week off" point;

Our relative is in his early twenties, and has become exhausted and ill on this schedule. We are urging him to leave this awful job.

Smart: nothing yet.

Starbucks, take heed -- you're not saving money by exploiting these kids, but rather adversely affecting customer service and causing capable people to quit.

Jul. 21 2008 11:07 AM
Clem from Wall Street

My co. spends $1k per month on av. to clean the carpets on half of one floor. Another $1k per mopnth to water plants. It also just let 40 people go.

Jul. 21 2008 11:01 AM
Donner from Red Hook

Smartest thing: firing the jerk who used to sit next to me.
Dumbest thing: inviting a pay-as-you-go barista in on Fridays instead of giving us summer fridays.

Jul. 21 2008 10:35 AM
hjs from 11211

i'm sure they don't pay enough

Jul. 21 2008 10:35 AM
Brian from Manhattan

The dumbest thing my employer (a global investment bank) has done was cut their tution reimbursement policty from 100% to 10K a year. With current tution costs at Stern that only covers two classes a year, a 67% reduction to the employee benefit. This reduces organic growth within the organization as well as making us less competitve with our lead competitors.

Jul. 21 2008 10:32 AM
Fernie from downtown - Broadway

The Mexican restaurant chain Chachos is now charging a 7.5% inflation surcharge on all meals with cheese.

Jul. 21 2008 10:30 AM
James from brooklyn

Maybe you should work at WNYC. Or are your comments coming "from inside the building!!"

Jul. 21 2008 10:29 AM
hjs from 11211

how could i be bored at work? i listen to wnyc all day

Jul. 21 2008 10:23 AM
S from Brooklyn

I work for a company that for the past several months has been public to its employees about upcoming cutbacks due to financial difficulties. There has also been a publicity campaign about green initiatives at my work. In the face of both of these things, our building is kept so cold that employees wear sweatshirts and use space heaters while at work. Throughout the weekend, when very few to no people are here, building temperatures are also kept frigidly cold. Why not start curbing spending by keeping building temperatures reasonable, which would also make for happier employees and cause less environmental damage?

Jul. 21 2008 10:13 AM
malibu from midtown- 5th ave.

I have noticed that of the 3 soap dispensers in the ladies room, only 1 is filled. This started about 2 months. Laziness or cost cutting- I am guessing the later.

Jul. 21 2008 10:11 AM

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