How some people get away with doing nothing at work

 Nate works for a major fintech company in the operations department, theoretically putting in 40 hours a week. However, in reality, he only spends about an hour a day completing tasks that he receives notifications for on his phone. The rest of his day is spent doing whatever he wants, as long as he stays close to home in case he's needed. Despite not having much to do, Nate gets good performance reviews and raises, so he doesn't feel the need to take on more work. He's hesitant to bring up his lack of tasks to his boss and worries about drawing attention to himself. This experience of having little to do at work is common and can lead to resentment from colleagues and questions about management. Nate doesn't think his company tracks remote workers, but if they did, he doubts he would still have a job. Many others, like Charlie, a data scientist at a financial company, are also in a similar situation and feel conflicted about their lack of work. They worry about falling behind in their careers and hope to change their situation by moving to a different company. 

During his work-from-home days, Charlie didn't do any work at all and admitted to reading two chapters of a novel and taking a nap on a day he worked from the office. Working from home makes it easier for him to slack off, but he doesn't feel pressured to work hard in the office either. Although his company laid off workers, he's not worried about losing his job and even wishes he could get laid off with a generous severance package. While some employees in a similar situation feel guilty or bored, others, like Tom, who works in sales, are experts in getting paid for doing little to no work. He adjusted his job search to find positions with high base salaries and isn't losing sleep over his ruse. While it may seem good for them to receive a paycheck for doing little, it can engender resentment among their colleagues. The boss is often to blame for these situations, with poor management being the biggest factor. Managers may be too disengaged or passive to notice or do anything about it, or they may not have the time to pay attention. Employees in these situations may feel guilty or bored, and it can be unsettling to feel useless at work. 

Bobby was hired too early for his division, as there was no need for engineers to do actual work. This leaves him with a lot of free time to work on his own tech projects, or to go hiking, swimming, playing video games, and watching movies. Despite feeling guilty at times, he doesn't see it as his responsibility to tell the company how to manage their employees. Change can be difficult, especially when a position exists simply because it always has. There is often excess capacity in white-collar work due to risk aversion and having several eyes on decisions or processes. Remote work makes it easier to slack off without anyone noticing, but being in the office doesn't guarantee productivity either. It's generally not a good idea to rat out a colleague who's not doing work unless it's affecting you, and it can be risky to alert the company to an underutilized employee. Tom is not worried about his career, as he believes he can get positive references from other departments when it's time to move on. 

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