20 setembro 2004

You sit next to idiots, loathe office bonhomie and crave escape. You're half- crazy with boredom, pretend to work when you hear footsteps and kill time by taking newspapers into the washrooms. Your career is blocked, your job is at risk and the most ineffective people get promoted to where they can do least harm: management. You recoil at jargon, consider the expression 'business culture' an oxymoron and wish you had the guts to resign. If this is you, help is at hand.
10 commandments for the idle

No. 1 You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month, full stop.

No. 2 It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.

No. 3 What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.

No. 4 You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track

No. 5 Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.

No. 6 Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm'. Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.

No. 7 Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.

No. 8 Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).

No. 9 Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.

No. 10 Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowing when...

[From the NYT:]

Finally, instead of dissembling behind ambiguous notions of Gallic joie de vivre, someone in this leisurely land has declared outright that the French should eschew the Anglo-Saxon work ethic and openly embrace sloth.
Corinne Maier, the author of "Bonjour Paresse," a sort of slacker manifesto whose title translates as "Hello Laziness," has become a countercultural heroine almost overnight by encouraging the country's workers to adopt her strategy of "active disengagement" - calculated loafing - to escape the horrors of disinterested endeavor.

"Imitate me, midlevel executives, white-collar workers, neo-slaves, the damned of the tertiary sector," Ms. Maier calls in her slim volume, which is quickly becoming a national best seller. She argues that France's ossified corporate culture no longer offers rank-and-file employees the prospect of success, so, "Why not spread gangrene through the system from inside?"

The book is a counterpoint to efforts by the country's center-right government to repair the damage done to French work habits by decades of Socialist administration, which enacted a 35-hour workweek. It is gaining in popularity just as the International Monetary Fund is urging Europeans to work longer and harder to stiffen their soft economies.

The French already work less than people in most other developed countries - on average, nearly 300 fewer hours a year than Americans, according to one study.
In many ways, Ms. Maier is typical of France's intelligentsia, overeducated and underemployed. She studied economics and international relations at the country's elite National Foundation of Political Sciences, or Sciences-Po, before earning a doctorate in psychoanalysis.

But she works just 20 hours a week writing dry economic reports at the state electric utility, Électricité de France, for which she is paid about $2,000 a month. Sitting in the living room of her Left Bank apartment, decorated with colorful abstract art, huge stereo speakers and a bicycle, Ms. Maier, 40, insists that her polemic, though tongue in cheek, has a principled point. "Can we work in a corporation and contest the system," she asks, "or must we be blind and docile and adhere to everything that the corporation says?"

Part of the problem, according to Ms. Maier, is that French companies are frozen by strict social norms.
"Everything depends on what school you went to and what diploma you have," she said, arguing that advancement is slow and comes less from ambition than from endurance. "French corporations," she says, "are not meritocracies."

Workers remain at their jobs until retirement, stymieing the promotion of those below them, she argues, yet a system of patronage and stiff legal protections make it difficult for employers to fire anyone. Years of such stagnation in France's hierarchy-obsessed society have produced elaborate rituals to keep people busy.

"Work is organized a little like the court of Louis XIV, very complicated and very ritualized so that people feel they are working effectively when they are not," she said.
Her solution? Rather than keep up what she sees as an exhausting charade, people who dislike what they do should, as she puts it, discreetly disengage. If done correctly - and her book gives a few tips, such as looking busy by always carrying a stack of files - few co-workers will notice, and those who do will be too worried about rocking the boat to complain. Given the difficulty of firing employees, she says, frustrated superiors are more likely to move such subversive workers up than out.

The book's title is a play on "Bonjour Tristesse," the title of the 1954 best-selling novel by Françoise Sagan that recounted a worldly young woman's cynical approach to relationships and sex. Ms. Maier's book, subtitled "The Art and Necessity of Doing the Least Possible in a Corporation," is concerned with a more mundane malaise.

With chapters titled "The Morons Who Are Sitting Next To You" and "Beautiful Swindles," it declares that corporate culture is nothing more than the "crystallization of the stupidity of a group of people at a given moment."
Her employer of 12 years was not amused. Irritated that she identified herself as an Électricité de France employee on the back cover of her book, company officials wrote her a stern letter accusing her of inattention at meetings, leaving work early and "spreading gangrene from within," just as her book advocates. They demanded that she appear for a disciplinary hearing, though the original Aug. 17 date has been pushed back to September. That's because Ms. Maier is going on vacation.

"They want to make an example of me," Ms. Maier said.
When she received the letter from her employer, she did what any French worker would do: she took it to the company union and asked them to help in her defense. The union, already engaged in a bitter battle with management over a partial privatization scheme, took the case to the news media, where it received instant and widespread attention.

Without the company's maneuver, Ms. Maier's book would probably have quietly gone out of print. Instead, her publisher, Éditions Michalon, sold out the first printing of 4,000 copies and has ordered three successive reprints in the past three months: 15,000 copies have been printed so far and, having apparently struck a chord with the country's work force, demand only appears to be growing.

She said the reaction of co-workers has been mixed, with some outraged by her thankless attitude. "They think it scandalous," she said, "like I spit in my soup."

[Read (still) more about it here]

Sem comentários: