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Stealing Time

Almost everyday we hear of some politician’s unethical practices when it comes to abusing power, whether it’s failing to pay taxes or using a jet for personal pleasure. We shake our heads, critical of their behavior. But do we really have the right to judge?

Because I am self employed, I must be responsible to myself and, of course, to my clients. If I don’t invest the appropriate time to do a satisfactory job, I will be the one who suffers. However, if I decide I want to goof off and not give my client what he or she deserves, then it will be my business that suffers; I cannot hide behind others who might pick up my slack.

With that in mind, I often receive emails during the work week from friends using their company address. It’s not as though the missive was important; instead, it’s a joke or You Tube link.

Sometimes these emails are tolerable, but most often they are just distractions that steal company time. The Office, which is one of my favorite shows, had an episode about ethics in the workplace; stealing company time was addressed. Naturally, it was tackled humorously, but had it been in the real world, jobs would have been lost and rightfully so.

Obviously my friends aren’t doing anything as egregious as taking a company jet for a vacation, and quite likely they justify the few minutes it takes to send a personal email by saying it was during their break.
Still, I have a feeling if people were actually to clock themselves as Jim Halpert did to Dwight Schrute in that funny Office episode, they’d realize that while their peers had to pick up their slack, they were indeed stealing time.


  1. Julie Martino

    I suppose when you own your own business, these types of incidents really grate on you more. You are aware of the costs and they are at the forefront of your mind. But as a salary employee, these infractions are more likely a wash than ‘stealing’ time. For myself and most of my friends, the line between work and home has totally blurred. Bosses expect reports and projects to be worked on at home on the weekend, with no extra compensation or comp time provided. They expect extra hours when projects are hot.
    We are on call 24/7 to our bosses now. To the point where several friends have had comporate LANs installed in their house to assist them in performing their jobs (provided by the company, secured by the company, for the sole purpose of them being able to work from home during personal time).
    At one job, I did 90 hour weeks for 10 months straight because the project was hot. There was no additional compensation for this, just the same salary as when I worked 40. I can’t count the number of times myself and my team have been working at 7pm, or up at 3am to solve business needs.
    We are dedicated to helping our company to succeed and when they need us, we are there – no matter the time of day or night. I do their work on my home time and home computer, and yes, occasionally, I do my work on their systems. But I assure you that the personal time I spend on their systems is minimal compared to the private time they utilize.

  2. MarieMary

    I have to agree with Julie. If anyone is stealing time it is the work place from the workers. I would be very wary of an employer who had a NO personal use policy in effect. Hopefully, people with demanding jobs make personal calls and emails only when necessary. In a trusting work environment both sides understand this need.

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