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How some people get away with doing nothing at work

All hail the jobless employed

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In theory, Nate works 40 hours a week in the operations department at a major fintech company. In reality, Nate works one hour a day at most. He moseys over to his computer whenever he gets an alert on his phone that he’s got a task to complete. Otherwise, he spends most of the day doing, basically, whatever he feels — he sleeps in, he watches TV, he does household chores. His only real restriction is that he can’t stray too far from home in the event he is needed for something.

“I don’t have a problem with being asked to do work; it’s just I’m not really being asked,” he says. Maybe he could take more initiative and try to take on more, but he gets good performance reviews and raises as it is, so he figures, why bother? Plus, it’s not like he can waltz up to his boss to announce there’s no real business reason for his existence. “How do I initiate that conversation that’s, ‘Hey, I haven’t been doing much of anything this whole time, I need more to do’? You don’t really want to draw attention to it,” says Nate, which is a pseudonym. Vox granted him anonymity to speak for this story for obvious reasons, as we did all of the workers interviewed.

Strongly suspecting that a certain person isn’t doing much, or not nearly enough to fill up what is ostensibly an eight-hour day, seems to be a near-universal work experience. Many people have also, at some point in time, been that less-than-occupied worker. Sometimes, it’s intentional. Other times, like in Nate’s case, that’s just how the corporate cards have been dealt.

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