b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: How Do You Spend Your Lunch Hour?



How Do You Spend Your Lunch Hour?

Most people that work in the corporate world get an hour for lunch. Of course, some get less, but the amount of time itself is not what I’m getting at today. Lunch hour is the time to step away from the mayhem (or boredom) of your morning and take some time for yourself to grab a bite, run errands, or just take a walk.

Of course, many take the opportunity to eat lunch at their desks and read, pay bills, make phone calls, or check personal email. Here lies the issue. My friend, Ms.Worksforwhat, (whom you may have read about in Thursday’s post Work_Life_Balance ) once got a lashing for her use of the internet during her lunch hour. It goes without saying that there’s some sites that just should not be accessed at the office (hmmmm, like porn or any site with loud, obnoxious sound effects – that should be turned off anyway at work). Whatever.

So Ms. Worksforwhat is chowing down on her tuna on rye as she watches a news clip online. Incidentally, it’s a news clip made available on the company’s own intranet. A manager happens to pass by (not her immediate manager) and see this and later rats on her with her manager. So, she gets in trouble for watching what the company puts on their own web site during her lunch hour. I ask: WHY?

Not only that, it’s something that comes up at review time as well. I know from personal experience that once something is put on your record like that, it stays there. I think that if management is going to have a problem with internet use, they should not go out saying that it’s okay to use the internet for personal use during lunch hour and completely eliminate all use of it. And then they should chain the workers to their desks, and demand a blood sacrifice.

So my question for the masses is this: Why should it really matter to your company what you do on your lunch hour (provided you’re not snorting blow in the restroom… then you’d have bigger problems)? What should Ms. Worksforwhat have done in her situation?

Well it depends on at least four factors that I can tell. First factor is how talented is Ms. Worksforwhat. If she is talented then I would conclude that work is lucky to have her as an employee and not the other way around. Second, how much does Ms. Worksforwhat like her current job. Lastly, life is too damn short to deal with crap like this. I have a simple exercise to help with the not so clear decisions. Imagine you are old and are near the end. Will you be glad you stayed at the company and lived by their silly rules or will you regret not having taken action.

Answer these questions and I think Ms. Worksforwhat will know exactly what to do.

P.S. Be sure to less us know what she decides.
Quit! Maybe not on the spot, but there's so much that's wrong with that situation that I can't see any value in staying with tat company. As you point out, once something like that gets on your record it's never forgotten.

The number one reason companies are able to get away with behaving like that is that people sit there and take it. If you don't do something about it, management take it as tacit agreement to their behaviour.
I totally agree with the both of you! This is EXACTLY why I made my "prison break" from corporate America. I've tried to convince my friend to take off, but it's more complicated than that... and I'm sure that this is the case for MANY people that work "the grind". My friend, like so many others, has obligations (the kids, the mortgage, the car, yadda yadda)... but I've been trying to aid her in getting back on the job-interview circuit.

It pains me to see this happening to her, but it pains me more that this behavior even exists. What's worse is that people know it and just don't do anything about it. Companies think bottom-line, and if they're making the BUCKS, it matters little to them how they make it. I've dedicated my career to helping these errant corporate giants (and the not-so-giants) see the error of their ways.

But Ms. Worksforwhat will be warmed to see the support!
You know I have grown to detest corporate America. The analogy of a prison break is a good one. Pied Piper and Mr. Angry why do they sit there and take it as you point out. I agree that is exactly what happens but why? Kids, mortgage etc that isn't a unique condition that Ms. Worksforwhat suffers from. I have given this topic a decent amount of thought and it boils down to mindset. A cliche yes but true. The demands of kids (which I have) and a mortgage quietly kills your initiative for career change. You tend to think "I need stability somewhere in my life because I am always on call for the kids with school and activities, spouse, the house and its mortgage". Add to that switching jobs where you have to prove yourself all over again and it becomes so very easy to sit there and take it like mr angry says. What is needed is a higher calling or purpose.

This is where mindeset comes in. Any company that employs me, Pied Piper, mr angry or Ms Worksforwhat is lucky to have us and not the other way around. I know this to be a fact provided we are three things: motivated, reasonably intelligent and not at work to pick up a paycheck but to learn. This comes from 20 years of working as a consultant for Price Waterhouse, consultant on my own, employee at a start-up and an employee at a big corporation. I pretty much have worked in every single environment that you can.

Ms Worksforwhat go home and assess yourself. I bet you will find that you are motivated, intelligent and not dead corporate wood. If this is who you think you are then you have nothing to fear. You have what it takes to make the prison break your friend the Pied Piper talks about. I assume you are young like your friend. I myself am 42 years of age - not too old but not young either. Let me assure you that nothing puts your life in the fast lane like kids. Years are a blur. We all will spend 40% of our waking lives at work. Let's spend it on our terms shall we. Onward and upward Ms Worksforwhat!!!
Arlan - You rock! You totally know where it's at. You couldn't be more right about your value also. I wish more people understood that.

As for my friend, well... she'll get the support she needs for her decision. And she does know how good she is as an employee and as a person.

Thanks again for your input!
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