my coworker plays on the internet all day long

A reader writes:

I share office space with one other person who is about half my age. The age reference is relevant because it relates to my question.

About half her work day is spent online rather than working. Whether she is clothes shopping, looking at mansions on Zillow, looking at pictures of dogs or CHILDREN available for adoption, corresponding on Facebook, browsing Reddit, or reading her news feed, she will toggle between working and surfing throughout the day.

She prefers to keep our office door closed, although we have no outside windows and little air circulation, because it allows her to hear when someone enters so that she can quickly click off the internet screen. I have seen her do this numerous times, and so has our boss. Equally as annoying are her frequent comments to me about what she is reading, often accompanied by an email providing me with the link to that which she is referring.

My workload does not permit me the luxury of casual internet browsing, nor am I interested in it. When she talks to me or forwards her items of interest, it’s not just distracting, it causes me to feel resentment toward her for her lack of consideration of the time and effort that I put into my job. On an ethical level, I feel that collecting a paycheck for browsing the internet is, in essence, stealing from the nonprofit organization for which we work.

Here is where the age-related part of my question comes in–is this behavior now more generally accepted in the workplace because 20-somethings have grown up in a digital age? Am I just “old-school”? And if not, what can I do about it? When I brought it to my boss’s attention, he said he had noticed it too, but failed to follow up with her. If I bring it up to him again, am I “tattling”?

I don’t think it’s age-related, although it’s possible that it’s experience-related, in that she doesn’t have enough experience yet to realize how out of sync this is with normal work habits.

But it’s more likely that it’s just about being a slacker, and there are plenty of those in all age groups. Pre-internet slacking just came in other forms: phone calls, endless chatting to coworkers, reading the newspaper, etc. The internet has certainly made slacking off easier though; it doesn’t require another person or leaving your desk, and it provides endless options for time-wasting.

Anyway, I would do two things and maybe a third:

1. Tell her that you want to leave the office door open. Say this: “Jane, I’d like to stop closing our office door except in rare situations where there’s a specific need to. It’s making our office stuffy, and people are hesitant to interrupt when they need something. So I’d like to start leaving it open from now on.”

2. When she tries to pull you into the stuff she’s wasting time on, don’t let her. Say things like, “Sorry, I’m on a deadline right now” or “I’m right in the middle of something and don’t want to break my focus.” If you’re comfortable with it, you can also address it from a more big-picture standpoint: “I tend to be really busy during the work day, and it makes it hard to focus when you talk to me about what you’re reading online.”

3. Depending on what kind of relationship you have with her, you could call her out on the whole thing. This will be very relationship-dependent, but I can think of lots of coworkers where I could have just said, “How on earth do you have so much time for web surfing? … Aren’t you concerned that your internet use is monitored or that (boss) will notice that you’re spending so much time not working?” But again, it’s relationship-dependent.

Of course, the other (possibly bigger) problem here is your boss, who apparently knows about the problem and has declined to do anything about it. It’s possible that he’s doing something behind-the-scenes, of course, and you don’t know about it — but if so, it doesn’t appear to be having an effect.

You asked about saying something to him again. Talking to him about it isn’t tattling — for the reasons I talk about here — but I do have some doubt about whether or not he cares / plans to take any action. And really, you already told him what’s going on. If he cares, he’s going to address it and then keep a closer eye on her for a while. I don’t know that a second report will change things if a first report didn’t.

I’m also betting that for this to have been allowed for so long and him not to have had any issues with her productivity (and/or adjust her workload), the answer to “is he normally a competent manager?” might be no, in which case the best you can do here is to stop her from interfering with your own work and accept that the rest of it is not yours to fix.

{ 318 comments… read them below }

  1. I am a secret squirrel*

    Today at work I spent most of my day watching tennis online.

    I’m not a slacker – I just have very little work to do at work. I don’t like it, but the nature of my job is varied and I assist various people and/or teams as necessary. I’ve tried asking for more work, different work etc; sometimes there’s some available, other times (such as now) not (it’s a down time period in general).

    1. Amber Rose*

      +100. Some days I’m swamped. Others, dead. I can only do so much for coworkers as we are a manufacturer and I particularly should never be allowed near power tools.

      I also, instead of the usual two short breaks plus lunch, work through the day and take 1 minute breaks to check FB or text a friend here and there instead. It looks like I’m always slacking off, but I find micro breaks do more for my energy and motivation than anything else. My boss has no issue with this as long as work gets done.

      That said, it’s not ok to bother coworkers who are busy with personal stuff, and that is definitely an issue worth addressing.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        I am the same way. I do a lot of work, at a really high level (and my bosses all consider me a rock star), but I have the attention span of a….SQUIRREL!
        Where was I? Oh, right. Anyway, I need to take frequent breaks throughout the day, especially if I’m switching back and forth between projects a lot throughout the day. So some days, I take a lot of little breaks to reset my brain. Others, like today, when I’m focused on one project all day, I can get away without the breaks more (though, I just finished all of my conference calls for the day and sent out the call notes, so I’m taking a little break before I go work a bit more on the project plan).

        1. GOG11*

          This is me! I feel guilty when I’m not working, but I have taken on half a dozen substantial projects that aren’t at all related to my assigned area while taking on more of the same type of work within my areas. I sort of go with the work – if I have work to get done, I very, very rarely procrastinate or distract myself intentionally (if I do, it’s because I am trying to wrap my head around the work); if I don’t have work to do, I read AAM, news articles, imagine excel problems and research how to solve them, try to figure out it such-and-such thing or process exists outside of my brain (like, wouldn’t it be cool if we could save web pages as PDFs so you can read them without internet access – somebody has to have thought of this and I wonder how to do it).

          When I work, my ADD kicks in and I get tunnel vision/laser focus and kick butt and take names. However, the downside to that is that it is very, very intense and it isn’t sustainable to do at all times. Overall, I think it evens out.

          1. Just Another Techie*

            Amazon has a browser plugin you can use to send a web page to your Kindle to read offline. And I think instapaper will do the same for your phone, but I don’t think either will do PDFs.

            1. salad fingers*

              Also, less sophisticated but you can go to print the page, then change the destination from your printer to “save as PDF”. This would be for computers, obviously, but you could then email yourself the pdfs and download them to whatever reader you use on your phone to view them offline if that was your intention.

              1. Jo*

                OMG, your username. It’s brilliant, but the actual Salad Fingers makes me want to crawl under the covers for weeks.

                1. salad fingers*

                  Ha, so, I actually chose this username during a lunch break while I was fumbling with a salad and trying to write a comment on here at the same time — salad fingers was the first thing to pop into my head. I don’t really identify with salad fingers, hubert cumberdale or marjorie stewart baxter in any way, and I’m actually a really nice and not creepy person IRL. :D

      2. CanadianDot*

        I’m the same. I don’t take coffee or lunch breaks more than about once a week, but I check things online throughout the day. All my work gets done, and I ask for more. I also find that taking a quick break from work really helps with my anxiety, which can be an issue for me. My bosses are very happy with my performance – I’m good at getting things done quickly AND getting them done well. I never say, “That’s not my job.” So I don’t feel guilty about reading a news article or checking my facebook feed quickly.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I was actually hired to optimize a bunch of processes. I’ve done that, and taken on more roles, and optimized THEM, and so I have less to do than I used to. But my attention is more fractured between so many different projects. I get less frazzled if I take a minute to look at cute animals and say hi to a friend between things.

          What’s really important to me is if someone needs my help, i’m on it. I won’t ever say “yeah, I’ll get to that after my break”.

    2. I am a secret squirrel*

      I want to add that I’m actively trying to find another job and also when I leave it’s unlikely (due to budget cuts) that they will be able to replace me.

    3. Mike C.*

      Seriously, one of my three monitors was dedicated to the World Cup last summer. All my boss asked was that I not tell him the scores before he got to watch when he got home. If I’m here on the weekends baby sitting, you can bet there’s a race going on.

      For some weird reason, my productivity didn’t go down.

    4. AnonAnalyst*

      This is an issue at my job too. More often, I’ve felt like I’m drowning in work, to the point where I’ve actually had periods where I’ve woken up in the middle of the night thinking about all of it and stressing out. But sometimes, I’ll finish all my current deliverables and then am playing a waiting game for other people to finish things and I literally have nothing to work on. I’m in one of those periods now and am just like…what do I do with myself?

      I used to feel really guilty about it until I was completely slammed for like a year straight, so now I view it as time I can use to get personal stuff done as needed, since I don’t have time to attend to that during busier times. So yeah, my coworkers have seen me doing a bunch of non-work stuff on the internet lately.

      I guess I’m just unclear about what the nature of this coworker’s job is. Is it a pretty variable workload so this could be a quieter time for her? Or does she have work that’s consistently not getting done because she’s wasting so much time? One requires a different response from the manager than the other.

      1. Marissa*

        I have frequent down time, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does this and who feels guilty about it. This is my first full-time job out of university, so I haven’t looked for more challenging work because I felt it wouldn’t look good to future employers if I jumped ship so soon. When I have work, I like what I do—there’s just not enough of it sometimes. My work is client based, so I’m often waiting for material to come in. I’ve tried asking for more stuff to do and even asked to get training in other areas so I can at least be productive, but nothing has come through. After a while, I stopped asking and started trying to enjoy a luxury that so few people have. But, honestly, I’d rather be busy and feel like I accomplished something than diddle around the internet all day filling time.

        1. cv*

          Heh. I read this comment right before clicking over to my pgadmin window to see if my query had finished running yet.

        2. Windchime*

          Yep. SQL Queries or waiting for an ETL test to be done. That’s what brings me here throughout the day.

          1. Melissa*

            Sometimes running an intense statistical test, even on my high powered machine, has me idly checking FB et al.

      1. SystemsLady*

        In that regard, it’s probably a good thing my beloved “hot” Final Four pick basketball team got upset terribly right in the first round of the NCAA this year :(. That game also took place during lunch hour, luckily for the office’s productivity.

    5. SystemsLady*

      This has happened to me and just about all my coworkers before, and often when others in the same role are swamped (but for billing/nature of work reasons can’t involve other people).

      Of course, it evens out, because all of us also have times when we are swamped.

      As long as we don’t code our time as billable to a customer and have notified him, my boss doesn’t care.

      For the record, he did directly tell me and another coworker in this situation that he didn’t really care what we did during downtime, as long as we came into the office, had tried to seek out work, and didn’t distract others. I think it is important to clear that up with your boss.

      Half the time he will have less urgent things for us to do when pressed, but is often so busy that he doesn’t have time to loop us in and will just let us “go” for a couple days before he gets a chance to talk to us. So it’s halfway a solveable (lack of) management (resources) problem.

      Basically, I tend to agree that it’s rare that there’s actually nothing for you to do at work, but it happens. It can also happen that there are things for you to do, but the people who need to manage your work are unavailable to let you start or go to the next step.

    6. AnonyGoose*

      Ditto. And frankly, sometimes it’s the opposite of a slacker issue–some people just work faster than others, and it can add up to a lot of extra time. For example, in one of my last jobs, I was more proficient at technology than the rest of my team. This meant that I was able to do my tasks significantly more quickly, and it generally allowed me to finish with a lot of extra time on my hands. Due to the nature of the work, I was able to use that spare time to pick up some stuff from teammates, but if I wasn’t, I’d have been scrounging to “waste time” as well.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        This was me at my last job. I took over a job that had been a job that a full time person was struggling to keep up with and finished all of the work in 20 hours a week. I was able to pick up some work from others in my department and help out other teams occasionally, but we were a pretty siloed organization so the amount of work I could help other teams with was limited and my own team was pretty well staffed so there wasn’t a lot of extra work available.

      2. Anon.*

        Yup. I’ve had jobs in the past where my supervisors thought they were giving me 10 hours of work, and in reality it took me 10 minutes. There are only so many times you can revise and double-check and pass things along and wait for approval and take on “someday” projects before you end up just scoping Zappos for the afternoon.

      3. T3k*

        Yep, this is me. I work full time but get about 95% of my work done in the first 3 hours (the other 5% is work that comes in after those 3 hours). The only reason I don’t finish faster is because I have to help customers that walk in or call as we’re understaffed. I’d love to switch to part time but the job pays very little as it is, so I just use the extra hours working on personal projects.

      4. Chinook*

        ” I was more proficient at technology than the rest of my team. This meant that I was able to do my tasks significantly more quickly, and it generally allowed me to finish with a lot of extra time on my hands. Due to the nature of the work, I was able to use that spare time to pick up some stuff from teammates, but if I wasn’t, I’d have been scrounging to “waste time” as well.”

        Ditto. There is a point where scrounging for more work can be counter productive (as you are interrupting other people’s work flow). It is known on my floor that I have a quick turn around time 90% of the time as a result of my tech savviness, so I now have the oddest jobs cross my desk instead of scrounging them. But, if there is nothing to do, then there is nothing to do, but I still have to be here because that nothing may turn to something 10 minutes from now.

        That being said, I would never act like OP’s office mate (except for reducing my screen whenever anyone walks in – but I do that so as not to distract them or me). Doors need to be open to show that I am open and available for work and rarely do I forward things on to colleagues that I find during the day unless it is relevant to their job.

    7. James*

      How about who cares what she’s doing as long as she’s doing her job to the satisfaction of her boss? Why are we so caught up in how people do their jobs? If my employees can surf on the internet all day and still get their jobs done to the level I expect, I say more power to them.

      Who wants to babysit? I’d rather get stuff done.

      My advice to the OP is fine if you want to raise the issue about closing the door and her sending you stuff, other than that, mind your own business.

      1. Charlie*

        Amen to that. My office has a “Results Only Work Environment”… we can work from wherever we want, whenever we want, as long as the work gets done. In our environment, deliverables are far more important that being physically present in the office.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I don’t care what other people in the office are doing, but it does become a problem when they try to discuss what they’re doing with you thereby interrupting your work time. If my co-worker wanted to surf the Internet all day, I wouldn’t care, not my problem, but if every few minutes she kept saying “OMG, this guy in Florida ate a whole alligator…” I’d be peeved. In this case, the OP should take Alison’s advice and tell co-irker to pipe down and leave her alone.

      3. Kory P*

        I’d be pretty upset though if I were swamped and someone else had time to search online for children to adopt, regardless of skill level. I’m no hero, but if I have free time I almost always offer to help others before resigning myself to an afternoon of teapot shopping at work.

    8. Anonymous for now*

      This. I am a professional tutor and my position is grant-funded, which means I need to be butt-in-chair whether or not there are a lot of students around. The first 2-3 weeks of the semester, no one needs a tutor yet, but I’m contractually obligated to be there. I spend a lot of that time reading online forums like this. Sometimes I take classes on Coursera. One of the other women in my office watches netflix on her phone. The department director may be on FB or linkedin during that time. After the first couple of weeks, it gets busy, and there’s hardly time to check email during the day. I felt guilty the first year I was in the position since my background was mostly retail where you have to give the appearance of busy at all times, but honestly in this position there are just slow times.

  2. illin02*

    I know this is going to as a shock to no one, but I really think in general this is an MYOB situation. Now its perfectly fine to bring up the door issue, because its supposedly making it stuffy and tough to work (although part of me thinks you just don’t like that she is sneaking on the internet), so that is directly impacting you. Same with the fact that she is talking to you and sending links when you try to concentrate. Those things affect your ability to do your job. However if she is on the internet all day, thats not really your problem or concern, unless her not getting work done is making you have to do more. Bringing it up to your boss just makes you look a bit petty or something. For all you know she is hitting all of her metrics, so if she is doing fine at her work and wasting time, thats between her and her boss.

    On another note, I never have understood how people think doing things like this is stealing from a company. They are paying you to be there and do a job. If you can do that job AND spend time on Reddit, then they are getting what they are paying for, and you are making your work day suck less. Also, some people are just more efficient. My last job I did things WAY faster than my colleague, so I probably spent some time slacking. But when it came to results, mine were better. Why should the company care?

    1. LQ*

      There are 2 big things (the door and the constant chatter/link sharing) that certainly seem to actively interfere with the OP so I’m going to say that’s not a MYOB. If the coworker wasn’t sharing and wasn’t talking and didn’t insist on closing the door I’d say it was a MYOB but that’s a lot of real work frustration to overlook to get to MYOB.

      1. illin02*

        Well I explicitly said she should bring up the other things, but those are things completely separate from the OPs bitterness about her co-workers internet use.

      2. Sadsack*

        I agree with illino2. OP should say something to her coworker at the time of the interruption, then go to the manager if the coworker doesn’t stop.

    2. Green*

      Agreed. Address the things that impact *you* and her internet use is not OP’s business. The only way it’s stealing is if you bill hourly (to, say, a client) and she’s billing for her internet time; other than that, if company doesn’t like her output, they have an easy solution at hand.

      Ah, the irony of writing into a blog filled with people who are browsing online at work about people who are browsing online at work.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      How’s this for a shocker then:

      I agree with you 100% for once, illin02!
      I know, right? ;)

      But really, it’s the manager’s job to make sure the work is done, and it’s their decision about whether someone’s productivity is good enough or not. And in my opinion, as long as you are satisfied the results your employees produce, you don’t need to worry about when they do what. The only time it should be your concern is 1) if it affects your own work, or 2) if it has a significant impact on a customer.

    4. sarah*

      Yep yep yep. Nunya bidness. If she’s getting her work done, this does not affect you whatsoever (aside from the door-closing and the emailing links, which Alison’s provided good tips for).

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

        But… it IS her business. The coworker sends the OP emails with links and keeps blabbering about the things she is looking at…

        That’s enough of its own to make it OP’s business, I think.

        1. Hotstreak*

          sarah explicitly listed those two things as exceptions in her comment, though. Internet use is a separate issue from annoying off-topic emails.

        2. HB*

          Unless the coworker is continuing to talk about it or peppering OP with “did you look at it yet?” I don’t see why these emails can’t just be ignored.

        3. Betsy*

          It’s reasonable to ask her coworker to stop bothering her, but when it comes to going to the coworker’s boss because of the slacking, the OP is stepping way beyond what’s her own business.

    5. Anonathon*

      Yeah, I’m with you too. If the OP needed things from his co-worker and she wasn’t getting them done (because Facebook), that would be one thing. Or if other folks were like, “Hey, OP, Lucinda was supposed to produce this thing and it never happened. Do you know what gives?” But assuming that’s not going on, I think it’s safe to assume that she’s getting her job done and it doesn’t take up all her time right now.

      In my early 20s, I was an assistant to the CEO and she liked me to be in the office during her vacations in case anything major came up. That was cool by me, but it also meant I had very little day-to-day work during those times. (She didn’t especially need to be staffed when she wasn’t, you know, physically present.) I mainly kept up with email and calls and was there to handle crises as needed.

    6. Amber*

      Yep, this would have been my exact comment. Address the door and the link-sending, otherwise MYOB.

    7. Traveler*

      Having been in a situation like this before, where the person was slacking and the boss’s solution was to distribute work to everyone else and ignore the slacker, it feels like stealing. It feels like I am working for a portion of slacker’s paycheck but not getting the benefits. I’m all about team work, but I am not about dead weight.

      1. Marcy*

        I agree and as a manager, I want to know if the slacking is going on because of the workload distribution. If one person is swamped and the other has time to slack then I need to know so I can redistribute some of that work.

        1. Megan*

          Redistributing work is fine, particularly if I’ve already completed tasks, but consider that “idle time” may not be from slacking – if it takes me less time to complete a task than it does someone else, then I’m not slacking, I’m efficient.

      2. illin02*

        In this situation it doesn’t sound like they do the same work or even report to the same manager, so its not like OP is really being affected by her “slacking” (which I don’t even want to call because we don’t know if thats really happening)

    8. afiendishthingy*

      I mostly agree. Like you say I think OP should address the stuff that directly affects her and let the other stuff go. She’s just going to get more and more obsessed with Slacking Coworker and drive herself nuts, and if she can get SC to stop trying to involve her in it the rest is really between SC and SC’s manager. Eyes on your own paper.

      As far as the stealing from the company goes, it really comes down to whether the coworker is actually doing her job. If we take OP at her word, as is the convention here, SC is trying to hide her internet fun from others. This makes me suspect she is doing her internetting instead of her work as opposed to in addition to it, although I suppose she might just be extremely efficient or have a very light workload. If she’s neglecting work in favor of the internet, then yeah, that is more or less stealing. If all of her work is done, not so much, but still pretty annoying if she’s constantly sending viral videos to those who are working.

    9. Meg Danger*

      Hmmm… I bet if OP’s workload is significantly more demanding (so high that there is zero time for breaks to read) than the co-worker, s/he is probably earning a significantly higher wage as well. Hopefully.

  3. Clever Name*

    Uhhhh, I just toggled here from what I was just working on….. That said, even though I do spend some time online at the office, I am a high performer and I am seen as the most efficient at certain types of work, and I have a heavy workload that I manage to keep up with while delivering my work products on time or early.

    Is she able to keep up with her job tasks? If not, maybe she needs more to do. Are you able to delegate to her from your workload? I agree that you need to tell her you’re too busy to chat or what have you. I’d also simply ignore the off-topic emails and never respond. It really is annoying to feel like someone is getting away with slacking when you have a heavy workload.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m very similar. I am also a high performer with a heavy workload. In my office high performance is rewarded with more work. Poor performance gets sympathy and molly coddling. To maintain my sanity I often look at email or professional sites like AAM. I find such micro breaks refresh me and I can focus better.

  4. Gandalf the Nude*

    Did anyone else feel kind of self-conscious reading this from their office?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I’m on lunch!
      *smug sense of righteousness*

      Just kidding, I’m reading AAM all the time regardless. =P

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Nope…because I’m reading it from home!

      But I still read AAM in my office. I like to think of it as “professional development” time. :)

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Word. I have seriously learned a lot here and I do feel that it helps me in my job.

        1. Nashira*

          I can directly credit AAM and the commentariat with making me a better employee. To my therapist, I refer to it as “learning how to coworker”.

    3. zora*


      i am also on the internet almost all day some days because things here are really slow and they often don’t give me enough to do. Luckily I don’t share an office with a door with another person so I know for sure this isn’t about me. ;)

      1. bridget*

        Heck, sometimes I read the internet all day when I *do* have work to do. But, since I have clear metrics (X number of billable client hours per month, which I obviously don’t rack up while slacking off, and filing/project deadlines) I just put myself in a pickle where I have to make up those hours/work some other time. I do, and sometimes it ruins my weekend, but that’s my own fault. My employer doesn’t seem to be super worried about it.

    4. A. Non for This*

      My first thought: Who else from work reads this blog!? But I’m not in my 20s and I don’t have an office.

    5. Jesse*

      For real, though — I am currently typing this at work, after reading a bunch more on this site, and I am seen as a good worker! Mostly I’m pretty fast, partly I don’t take lunch (because of the screwing around throughout the day).

    6. LabTech*

      I didn’t click the link until I got home because I didn’t want the page title to show up in my browsing history (especially in combination with “What to do if you think you’re going to be fired.”)

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Lololol. I’m only just reading this now so I’m in the clear, but the Friday open thread is tough. I have a hard time not getting totally sucked into that. I was actually just thinking last night how I wished it got posted a little later in the day for those of us whose self-discipline is a bit lacking at times ;)

  5. Dana*

    I have varying amounts of work to do as well and spend 80% of some days “idle.” If the co-worker is supposed to be doing the same job as OP, there is a problem if one of them is busy doing work all day and one is not. If it’s a different role, I would hope OP and/or the boss could take a look at what co-worker is doing, should be doing, could be doing, and have a conversation with this person about productivity and taking on more tasks if there is too much down time.

  6. tesyaa*

    But it’s more likely that it’s just about being a slacker, and there are plenty of those in all age groups. Pre-internet slacking just came in other forms: phone calls, endless chatting to coworkers, reading the newspaper, etc.

    Don’t forget playing Tetris… I was really really good at Tetris.

    1. TheLazyB*

      Ha. 20 years later I recently discovered that I am still really good at Tetris. And yet I judge those who play candy crush. Why? Honestly, I’ve no idea.

      1. SerfinUSA*

        A warehouse job I had way back in the day had a dedicated shipping computer that didn’t do internet but for the shipping company’s site. Sooo…I played solitaire as much as possible, as did one of my assistants. We got into a game of hide the solitaire game by renaming and/or moving the game file periodically.

      2. MaryMary*

        On The Office (US) you could often see people playing solitaire or surfing the internet on their computers. I heard the cast really would play games and read TMZ or ESPN in between takes or if they didn’t have any lines in the scene.

    2. sophiabrooks*

      My boss at my first office job (who was a department director) wasted time by 1. Xeroxing pages from the book she was reading and typing them on her computer and b. Going through the internal phone book and making various lists. It really bothered some people, but I did not mind– she was one of the best and fairest bosses I ever had and we had a really good department until she retired and a scary person took over, and everyone left within a year!

      1. AnonAlces*

        I’m reminded of the law clerk Blight from Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (circa 1860s):
        “Young Blight made another great show of changing the volume, taking up a pen, sucking it, dipping it, and running over previous entries before he wrote. As, ‘Mr Alley, Mr Balley, Mr Calley, Mr Dalley, Mr Falley, Mr Galley, Mr Halley, Mr Lalley, Mr Malley. And Mr Boffin.'”
        “Wearing in his solitary confinement no fetters that he could polish, and being provided with no drinking-cup that he could carve, he had fallen on the device of ringing alphabetical changes into the two volumes in question, or of entering vast numbers of persons out of the Directory as transacting business with Mr Lightwood. It was the more necessary for his spirits, because, being of a sensitive temperament, he was apt to consider it personally disgraceful to himself that his master had no clients.”

        In other words, a very old phenomenon :)

        1. Merry and Bright*

          +1 Yep, nothing new under the sun.

          (Another +10 just for quoting from one of my favourite books).

    3. teclagwig*

      Ha! Memory lane. :-) Back in the mid-80s my mom’s graphics office banned Tetris from all computers because it became such a problem.

      1. Chinook*

        “Back in the mid-80s my mom’s graphics office banned Tetris from all computers because it became such a problem.”

        Tetris only becomes a problem when you start staring at your colleagues while wondering how best to sack them in your cubicle. :)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I used to play Solitaire and that Microsoft pinball game at Exjob, right at the end of the day. Everybody did that.

      One of the things I got in trouble for there was internet use–but there were plenty of times I had nothing to do, and I couldn’t leave the desk. Our IT guy never told on me–he knew how boring the desk could be–but my performance was poor in other ways, so they cracked down on it. So I started bringing my flash drive in and working on my own stuff at my desk. At home, I would download websites I needed for research as PDF files and read them from the drive. If I was writing on something, it made me look busy. :) If work came in, I got right on it, but most of the time, I struggled just to stay awake.

      I still bring my flash drive with me so I can write on my lunch break or make quick notes if I think of something during the day. Plus I like having my book backups with me in case something happens at home while I’m gone. o_O

      1. afiendishthingy*

        omg Microsoft pinball, remember how you could get the ball stuck up the guy’s nose??

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh man, I loved that game and the maze thing in Encarta (MindMaze?).

          I was not a cool kid.

  7. JMM*

    Wow Secret Squirrel – I was thinking the same thing. Actually, I momentarily wondered if my older colleague sent this in about me! My job is feast or famine. Either I’m insanely busy or it’s slow and I just try to stay occupied with something, anything. I hate the way this sounds to people who are desperate for work. My boss tells me regularly how valuable I am to her. I work hard when there is work to be done. People tell me I’m super efficient. However, the amount of time I’m online would probably look bad to others…..Still, I can’t help but think this is a generational thing. I’m 31 — and when I have free time at work, I use the internet. My co-workers, who are mostly in their 50s, chat and gossip when they have free time. I figure, at least I’m at my desk if someone needs me or if an email or call comes in.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      “My co-workers, who are mostly in their 50s, chat and gossip when they have free time. I figure, at least I’m at my desk if someone needs me or if an email or call comes in.”

      Yup! When I hear to how much my coworkers gossip and chat and go on smoke breaks, I don’t feel like my Internet browsing is that bad at all.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Oh, the smoke breaks. I know a number of people (mostly older) who smoke because they figured out being a smoker was the only way to get breaks at their jobs; otherwise you got stuck covering for all the smokers when they went out in a pack.

        1. I think OP is nosy*

          Haha yes, the new ‘smoke break’ at our office (it’s a smoke free environment) is taking up ping pong. Then you can take several 20 minute ping pong breaks throughout the day.

          I feel that my minimal browsing of the interwebs between big projects pales in comparison to the ping pong-ing. BUT it’s not my problem so I’m not going to go crying to my boss about how much Suzy is playing ping pong.

          1. Witty Nickname*

            Except when I’m trying to eat lunch and Suzy is so bad at ping pong that the stupid ping pong ball keeps landing on my table.

            Or when the office hosts ping pong tournaments, and the cheering gets so loud, I can’t hear my conference call on the other side of the wall, hallway, and another wall from the lunch room.

            I really dislike office ping pong. :)

            1. I think OP is nosy*

              Haha there’s totally a completely separate, sound-proof, ping-pong ONLY room (otherwise we’d def have that problem)

        2. Blue_eyes*

          Ugh, the smoke breaks. When I worked at sleep away camp everyone else in my division smoked. It was a 10+ minute walk to the smoking area, so they all took multiple 30 min smoke breaks per day. I started taking my own “non-smoking breaks” just to have a little time alone.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        At the nonprofit where I worked, all the smokers (I was one) would take their breaks at the same time so they could gossip while smoking. They finally made us stagger them because there were so many people away from their desks all at once.

    2. SerfinUSA*

      This is my work environment too. I still don’t get how offline slacking gets more of a pass than online, given how many coworkers while away the day with non-work conversation and moseying around the building. Also noticed that phone slacking gets a pass too. Everyone has their phones at the ready and stopping to text or chat seems acceptable at all levels.

      My boss said once that it’s pretty much about appearances here. If you look like you’re working, you can do quite a lot online with no hassles. But if you aren’t on the A team, you will have people paying more attention to what is on your monitor.
      It took me a few years, a major job change, and some kudos on my performance from higher ups to get on the A team, so now when I have down time I use it. It does balance out with my busy times when I am at top speed with no breaks for weeks at a time.

    3. Malissa*

      I remember the day at the old job where my 40-50ish coworkers spent two hours complaining about another coworker spending time on the internet.
      I actually left because I couldn’t hold back the laughter.

  8. Not Today Satan*

    I’ve had one job that banned all non-work related Internet, but at every other place I’ve worked, it was normal and accepted to browse the web as long as you got your work done. And I know that some people are overworked, and others have customer-facing jobs, but my impression is that most office jobs don’t really require 40 hours of actual-work a week. A lot of it is just being available to receive assignments.

    The door thing isn’t cool though.

    1. katamia*

      Yep. My first job was an admin position, but we had another receptionist while I was there who handled most of the phone-answering, all the client-greeting, and did a lot of the courier-ing. So I was basically paid to sit there and read webcomics. It was awful. I’m sure some of my coworkers weren’t happy to see me supposedly not working, but I had nothing to do and was often desperate to be asked to type something or drive something somewhere.

      Actually, judging by how long some of my coworkers lunched and some of the crap I caught them doing (some illegal and some just unprofessional), maybe they didn’t care so much, lol.

      1. Career Counselorette*

        I actually did a summer temp job as a receptionist while I was in college where the boss was adamant that under no circumstances was I to use the Internet for anything at all. The last temp had been on Yahoo News and Star Magazine and other weird gossip rags all the time, so he decided that the best way to handle it would be to bar Internet use for any subsequent temp. He told me that I was to answer the phone, take messages, and do data entry, and if it was slow between calls, I could read a book.

        … Which would have been fine, except that because he was such a micromanager and control freak, I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING else. He wouldn’t let me touch the files. He would stop my shreds halfway through and re-feed them to demonstrate how to do them “properly.” He didn’t like the way I made coffee, for God’s sake. I felt like it would look way better if I was reading things on the Internet to at least maintain the APPEARANCE of doing computer work, rather than just sitting at a desk reading a book all day.

        1. katamia*

          Oh, my gosh. That sounds awful. Your reasoning is why I preferred to be online rather than reading an actual book–I thought (and still do think, generally) that at least it would look like I was working. My boss was very non-micromanage-y (probably because she was drowning under a massive workload herself, but most of it really wasn’t stuff I could do for her, unfortunately), so that helped a lot. If I were the kind of person who could generally be okay without having a lot of work to do, actually, that job wouldn’t have been so awful (well, beyond all the illegal stuff, anyway). But I’d always rather be busy than not, so it was really tough for me. I didn’t stay long, although I still occasionally do data entry work for my old boss (also my neighbor, so she knows how to reach me, lol) for that company.

        2. MaryMary*

          I had a temp receptionist job in college where the computer wasn’t connected to the internet and I wasn’t allowed to read a magazine or book (smart phones had not been invented yet). I was bored out of my head. I begged for something to do and finally got a data entry project, but I blew through it too quickly. I was so bored I used to open up MS Paint and doodle.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ha, when that happened to me, I would make PowerPoint presentations about Harry Potter and joke ones about a fictional office. You can see some of the latter at my Clerical Chick blog. :)

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I had a temp job at a law office where they had no internet at the front desk–they actually had a hardback Reader’s Digest condensed book compilation there and said if I had no one in the reception area, or the phone wasn’t ringing, I could read it! I thought, cool, but I started a book and it was so quiet in the office that I nearly fell asleep. That was a very long day.

          1. Boo*

            Ugh I remember working as a receptionist, I was bored out of my mind a lot of the time. I asked for more work/responsibilities and whizzed through it all/was told there was nothing else for me to do. The internet was disabled, SO I asked if I could read. I couldn’t. I had to sit there alone at a desk all day waiting for calls to come in. Once I actually fell asleep and dreamed my alarm was going off for work when it was in fact the phone ringing. I never could figure out why it was better to have a receptionist who was clearly bored/nodding off as opposed to one who looked vaguely alert.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I know–I couldn’t figure it out either. There was so little to do it almost seemed redundant to have anyone at the desk at all. But of course, the person whom I substituted for could have had a bunch of stuff she already did before she took that day off.

    2. sam*

      oh, if only I was only in the office 40 hours a week :)

      My job involves often working 50-60 and sometimes more hours a week. but sometimes there are downtimes. Because we spend so much time working (note – we’re corporate lawyers – we live at our jobs) it’s perfectly acceptable to spend some of our downtime, or even to just take a mental health break during busier times, to catch up on the news, personal email, do some web shopping etc.

      Heck – if I didn’t spend some time on peapod or freshdirect, I’d never have groceries. Which reminds me…

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, that’s how my BigLaw friend justifies it. “I’m going to be here until 10 anyway, so may as well go on Gchat for a bit.” It sounds like, as well, his job is either firing on all cylinders or idling, with little in-between.

      2. sam*

        Also, for instance – today I’m super busy. I’ve got back to back to back calls almost all day. but right now I’ve got about 20 minutes until the next one. That’s just not enough time to do something else I’ve got on my to-do list (like review and revise an entire contract). So I’m reading AAM for 20 minutes until I’m stuck on conferences calls for 3 hours straight, and then at 6pm I’ll get to buckle down and do some actual work.

        1. I think OP is nosy*

          +1000! Story of my life. If it’s just 20 minutes, I’m not going to have time to really do a good job on anything else (maybe respond to a few emails if they’re quick-response type), so I 0ften will use time like that for a ‘me break.’

          Which tends to be an askamanager break. And if you’re wondering, I comment a lot but never use the same name twice :-P

          1. I think OP is nosy*

            Oh and, we have a ping-pong table and some people take multiple ping-pong breaks throughout the day. I don’t. My ‘me breaks’ are the same as what they use for their ‘ping pong breaks.’ I just take multiple, shorter ‘me breaks’ than they do – ping pong breaks are usually 20-30 minutes, longer if it’s for a ‘tournament.’

        2. Anonathon*

          Oh man, that was me yesterday. I had a boatload of meetings, but they were all at weirdo intervals. So it wasn’t possible to do anything in between. Hence, AAM time.

        3. Jillociraptor*

          Exactly. Also, people being late for phone meetings. I get 3-5 minute “breaks” at the start of almost any phone meeting because I’m very punctual (for meetings, anyway) and it’s just not the culture at my company to be on time. I’m sure my browsing looks insane to IT but it’s a lot of articles and sites I opened while waiting for someone to dial in.

  9. Seconded*

    I established myself as a very dedicated, hardworking employee early on when I was hired. I repeatedly asked for more responsibility, which either a) never materialized, or b) materialized in spades. When I spent almost a year doing work that was definitely several steps up from my current position, I asked for a raise/title change/promotion and was denied.

    Obviously I am looking for a new position, but in the meantime, I have stepped back from taking on new, challenging work. This was partly because my supervisor recognized how frustrated I was getting and instructed me not to work so hard, and partly because I looked around at the people who were favored and realized they were doing half the amount of work I was doing and still getting lauded for their efforts.

    It’s not always slacking, if it were, that’s an easier problem to fix. But so often it’s really just playing the game to succeed in a particular workplace. If your boss knows about co-worker’s Internet surfing and has yet to do anything about it, that’s not the coworkers issue anymore. Management’s to blame there. Just tell your coworker to leave you alone when you’re working, and your responsibility has been fulfilled IMO.

  10. Macedon*

    It depends on whether she is an otherwise good performer. If her work is flawless and delivered on time, that should be the end of it. There’re people who power through their assignments with amazing intensity, but who can only uphold that pace because they mix it up with periods of downtime. At the end of the day, they produce the same amount and quality of work as someone who had performed at a slower, if more even pace. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless she’s paid on an hourly basis.

    For me, insisting that you should be seen as busy at all times, when you can manage the same workload in an efficient way that is more natural to you, is no better than the good ol’ bums on seat mentality.

      1. Macedon*

        Yes, absolutely – put a stop to that, keep the door open to avoid stuffiness.

        I was mostly addressing OP’s implication that the co-worker might be ethically wrong for ‘collecting a paycheck for browsing the internet’.

    1. Koko*

      Yes, thank you for saying this.

      There are weeks that the type of work I’m doing is very rote and requires very little judgment/creativity. Those weeks I work pretty much exactly 8 hours a day with an hour for lunch (standard in my office). I go home at 5 on the button and don’t think about work again til the next morning.

      There are other weeks I’m working on a big creative deliverable, coming up with a strategic solution to address a problem, writing a post-mortem that requires a lot of reflection and revisting, etc. Those weeks, I take frequent Internet breaks, often don’t leave the office until half an hour or an hour later than usual, and I log back on from home and put in another hour or two that night.

      Truthfully, I’m producing the same amount of work either way. And I’m getting all my deliverables in on time or early and in great shape. Why should anyone care that during some weeks I’m surfing the Internet a lot? When I’m doing that kind of work, the idea that I could do it for hours on end without breaks is fantasy. Does it really matter if I’m doing my job well? (I know that at least for me, the reality-answer to that question is no, it doesn’t at this point in my career, but at one time it did, and that does kind of suck.)

    2. Ezri*

      Yes, this is what I run into. This week has pretty much consisted of lightning periods where I need to juggle several tasks / communication chains and slow periods where I’m not getting new requests. I’m very fast and efficient, and I’ve been receiving daily praise from my managers. So I don’t feel bad about spending the slow times reading AAM or studying for my certification exams instead of trying to make myself look busy.

  11. Ad Astra*

    Younger people might be more accepting of a quick social media or phone check while you’re waiting for code to render or a print job to finish or whatever. I had a manager who would see me glance at my phone screen and assume I was “texting” all day, when I was often using the calculator, checking on a severe weather notice, emailing a photo I took on my phone to my work address, or making sure our mobile product was working properly. (Yes, I was in charge of the mobile website and app and was still reprimanded for using my phone at work.)

    But there is no generation that, on the whole, thinks it’s ok to just mess around all day when you’re supposed to be working.

    Is it possible that this coworker doesn’t have enough work to do and is unsure how to take on more assignments? Or maybe she’s overwhelmed and her defense mechanism is avoidance? Is the boss happy with her output? Can you ask her for help with some of your tasks, since you’re swamped and she’s apparently not?

    It also *could* that the OP is overestimating how much time this coworker wastes because the two have very different work styles. Some people like to go non stop with minimal interruption, and others are happier taking frequent breaks even if that means a longer day. But I think this is more likely to be an exacerbating factor than a true cause.

    1. Rebeck*

      I’ve recently had my boss tell me I spend too much time on email – while I’m doing the part of my job that involves sending lots of emails!

  12. katamia*

    People of all ages waste time. It’s not a generational thing.

    It doesn’t sound like her browsing affects you much, OP (other than the door and her distracting you, and you’re well within your rights to ask those things to change), and I understand that it’s frustrating to see, but for the most part, she’s not doing this at you. She’s not trying to rub your nose in the fact that you apparently have more work than she does. She’s probably bored out of her skull and desperate for something to do, and unless you have the power to assign her some of your work, then that has nothing to do with you. I agree with Alison’s first two pieces of advice, and then I suggest you just stop looking at her computer screen.

  13. Seconded*

    Also, I really hope this doesn’t offend you OP, but have you looked closely at the work you do and find ways to be more efficient?

    I have had coworkers who were always “busy”, yet we did the same job and I managed to get my work done in half the time. I’m very much the kind of person to blow through work all in one go so I can get it done with. Others dawdle or create more work for themselves or are not as efficient because they think being busy = good performance. I don’t value face time > production.

    Again, not saying this pertains to you specifically, but this could be the case.

    1. Chickaletta*

      ^ I’ve been in this situation too and sometimes I think I’m just more efficient or organized than most people. One job I had was so dull that I pretty much planned my entire wedding from my computer at work and surfed chat boards all day long. After I quit, my work was divided between two coworkers and they reported to me that they were overwhelmed and had no idea how I handled everything on my own. For a second I thought they were joking or being sarcastic, but the were being honest. I couldn’t believe it.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I’ve had co-workers like that. Some people are just really inefficient. At one job I had, we had a very tedious manual process. It went on for pages “Step 37: copy the files to X directory. Step 38: change the permissions to read-only. Step 39…” I automated all that, and it was strange to me in the first place that no one ever thought of it before. But then my co-workers would run my automation tool… and sit there all afternoon watching the messages scroll by “in case something happens”. No! I automated it so you could do something else!

        1. Anonymous for now*

          My husband has this problem. He’s really efficient and good at seeing faster ways of doing things but he’s worked at more than one office where people don’t want things to go faster because being “busy” is the culture. It sucks because he’ll automate something, have it doing its thing, and be reading a forum online and someone will come in and think he isn’t working. He is, and working better than the other person (who is going on their sixth coffee break). I’ve told him to just give the appearance of being busy at those places (he has since found a better job).

      2. I think OP is nosy*

        Same thing happened to me in a previous job. I had a massive workload, and we hired someone underneath me to help with it. That helped a lot – too much – so I kept asking for more stuff. They gave me more, so I was able to get more varied experience, but it almost never took up all of the hours of the day. I probably spent at least 1-2 hours a day at work at that job planning my wedding.

        Then when I left they hired someone to replace me who apparently quickly burned out, and quit after just 6 months. So, maybe I was just really efficient? I was always one of those kids who finished the SAT sections early and just sat there and twiddled my thumbs for 5 minutes… and yes, I still scored well.

      3. Steve G*

        LOL my most boring temp contract job was like that. They kept saying how important my work was and I felt so stupid and patronized every time they said it….yeah, it was important, but we weren’t saving lives, and I spent like 1/2 of the day looking busy. It reminded me of your last sentence. I thought they were joking when they expressed amazement that I did some tasks that were so easy. Thank God it was temp or I would have quit

    2. Steve G*

      But this concept of the “the younger worker may just be more efficient” only holds water if the OP and this person are doing the same exact type of work with the same intensity. The age difference alone would suggest an experience gap which would suggest that there work is at least a bit different.

      I think a lot of the comments here apply in roles at the lower end of the totem pole where responsibility and thus work is limited, and/or the work is routine/process work, but we don’t have an indication that that is the case. My last two roles were mid-level, and there was unlimited work. However, it wasn’t the type of stuff that you could say to a manager “do you have work,” and they’d email you something. You had to put yourself in front of particular customers, partners, managers, insert yourself into difficult situations, etc. to start getting the background info to be able to do the work.

      In this day of automation, new work is less likely to come in the form of “enter this stack of orders,” but more of something like “this vendor’s projects just seem really expensive, can you look into why and start managing them when we send them into the field?” You’re less likely to get the latter type of work sitting in your office ignoring everyone browsing the internet. It doesn’t seem like the letter subject is willing to break out of their comfortable routine, so I think the OP’s issue is warranted.

      Even if the OP was inefficient, I think having someone in the office playing on the net all day is just bad for morale and needs to be curbed if only for that reason.

      1. Megan*

        The OP’s issue is different from the subject’s willingness to break out of her comfort zone, though. Professional development of your co-workers is not even remotely the OP’s concern – at least, it shouldn’t be.

  14. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

    I had a former coworker who was the same way. There is nothing as frustrating as being pulled away from a task so she can tell you about the “what Golden Girl are you?” quiz she just finished taking.

    In this case, she had accepted a job/title she didn’t really want, with the idea that she could change the role. So she completely resented being there when she was she was told that future growth opportunities would only come after she proved she could do her current job. So instead she did the minimum and played on the internet all day.

  15. Chicken*

    Some people just don’t have enough work to do at work.

    I spent WAY too much time online at work, and I do feel guilty about it – I work in an office where most people appear to be very busy, put in a lot of OT, etc. I tend to finish tasks more quickly than others (always have, and always have been praised for high quality work), and in the past I’ve tried to take on extra work, but my office is very very dysfunctional and there really isn’t a way for me to do that right now.

  16. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

    I’ve been wasting time on the internet at work since the damn thing was invented. alt-net, list-serv, AOL, message boards, Facebook, you name it. I’m almost 45 and still slacking!

  17. Chickaletta*

    I admit I’ve surfed the web lots of times at work. Not because I’m a slacker, but because I just didn’t have enough to do throughout the day. And I really felt guilty about surfing around, but it was either that or literally staring at the wall for hours. I tried to be useful and make good use of my time, so I used my downtime to brush up on work related skills, keep my files organized, and do some work related research. But the fact remained that sometimes 8 hours a day was way more than I needed to do my job well, yet the company culture was that was expected to be at my desk from 8-5 with a strict one hour lunch break. Attempts at initiating new projects were either ignored or flat out rejected by my manager and the higher ups, so after awhile there wasn’t much sense in finding work to do either.

    If your coworker is in that type of job, that could explain all the surfing around. If her manager feels that she’s getting her work done and doing well then maybe that’s why they haven’t brought it up with her.

  18. Brett*

    Even our 911 operators screw around on the internet during downtime (we give them a separate computer at their station on a separate network not linked to any critical systems). If even their time is not so mission critical that they cannot goof of time to time….
    The computers are actually there for when they need the Internet to find additional info related to a call, e.g. the address of a business identified by a caller, but they are allowed to use them for other uses. We do block a lot of websites, like all social media, for security reasons. And the supervisors have access to social media on yet another network if something needs to be looked at there for operational reasons.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      I think the nature of our job is different though, moreso for a calltaker but even for dispatchers. When we have downtown, it literally is down time. If the phone is not ringing or there isn’t a call to dispatch, there isn’t much else to do. Read through the calls so you know what’s going on, do you unit status checks and various license/criminal history checks, citizen callbacks etc, but after that it’s sit there and read policy and procedure or goof off.

      I work for a pretty busy metro and have had winter nights where I have not only not had a single call on my screen for hours, but not needed to say a single word over the radio. At 5 am you almost have to read/browse the internet/etc to stay awake and keep you sharp just in case something does happen (and then of course you drop everything and deal with it)

      1. A Dispatcher*

        *downtown meaning downtime of course

        And since I’m posting again anyway, I will add I think that what I wrote is true about most inbound call center type jobs. There are times when you literally are being paid to be a warm body in a seat. You don’t have to constantly be working, you just NEED to be there when the phone does ring.

      2. Chinook*

        ” At 5 am you almost have to read/browse the internet/etc to stay awake and keep you sharp just in case something does happen (and then of course you drop everything and deal with it)”

        Sounds like DH in the middle of winter when he was doing rural patrols on a Monday night. It would get so quiet that he would call in to dispatch to make sure his radio wasn’t broken. To keep aware, he would take out his handheld game and play for hours in his cruiser in a parking lot somewhere.

  19. YandO*

    When I started this job, I worked a lot and I worked hard. I established goal-oriented routines and systems and approaches that increased efficiency significantly. As a result, I can accomplish more now in less times. So, I get to browse the internet AND get all my work done AND be almost always available for last minute/urgent matters without the rest of my work suffering.

    If you care more about my web surfing than you care about my work, then we are not right for each other.

  20. Anoners*

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who spends too much time on the net at work. I’m a high performer though, so as long as I get my stuff done / come up with new ideas I don’t think it’s a problem. I do feel guilty about it sometimes though.

  21. Kmizzle*

    It could be age related. My coworker is in her 60’s and it takes me less than half the time it takes her to complete tasks. This is because sue is slower at typing, doesn’t memorize where thibgs are located in the software and must read everything slowly. It does make it so that she is accurate but it frustrates a lot of customers.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      But is that all because of her age? It sounds like she’s just slow in general. As a teacher, I can tell you that people of any age move at their own speed. Some people are just much quicker at tasks than others.

  22. Stephanie*

    I have so little to do at my job that I read books at my desk (my bosses know—I’ve asked for more work several times). Only reason I don’t internet browse is because I don’t have a dedicated computer. Your coworker could be like this. Or maybe she isn’t. I definitely think this is a MYOB scenario, if it’s not affecting you directly (if her cat video watching is delaying the TPS report you need, that’s a different story). She could be on performance plan and about to sacked next week for all you know.

  23. JLS*

    I spend a lot of time at work online. My job tends to be crazy busy or crazy slow but my boss knows I work my butt off when projects come up and am very reliable and thorough. If someone came to me to complain about a coworker spending too much time online, I might think they were a bit out of touch – especially if the worker in question was getting all of her work done in a timely and thorough manner. If this worker doesn’t produce the necessary output it’s certainly a problem, but it’s not the OP’s problem.

  24. Rae*

    I often “slack” off at work, but I work in a high burnout field and those small breaks keep me sane.

    Not only that, older co-workers have more obnoxious ways of doing things to have “brain breaks” IMO. Like actually speaking at the watercooler….or talking face to face…or other thigns that are really unnecessary. They also tend to take longer breaks.

    Plus, you don’t know if she’s actually working on something. I had a needy client that communicated by FB but a noisy co-worker “told on” me. My boss was none too pleased but when I showed her the records it went right back onto the previous co worker.

    The door is a practical thing, you should mention that, after that mind your own business. If her performance isn’t happening that’s her issue, not yours.

    1. S*

      At my old job, I was often texting or Facebooking clients and co-workers about work-related things because that was what the industry culture was like. No one ever read more than the first two sentences in an email, but they’d pay attention to the message alerts on their phones. I would always get a reply to texts, but emails were hit-or-miss (I had software on my browser to tell me if/when someone opened my sent emails). What would the OP say about that, if they saw how I worked there?

      At my current job, the other departments around my cubicle talk so much that it distracts me from any work I might be doing. I can’t wear headphones because I sit outside my boss’s office and I have to be able to hear when she needs me. But if I’m doing something non-work-related, I make sure that it doesn’t impact anyone else’s productivity. That is the one thing I think the OP is allowed to address–the link-sharing and the closed door. It’s impacting their productivity, which is unfair. But the “excessive” web-surfing–that’s between the coworker and their boss, and not the OP’s business.

      1. Ezri*

        “No one ever read more than the first two sentences in an email, but they’d pay attention to the message alerts on their phones.”

        My workplace is like this with email and it drives me craaaaaazy. It’s gotten to the point where the emails I send to certain business contacts only contains one sentence with the most important piece of information. With a picture that plainly explains my point. Because if I add details in a second paragraph, they’re just going to ask questions that force me to repeat myself. >_<

        1. S*

          My trick is to use the subject line as a short sentence on its own, heh. I actually really liked that method of communication because it meant that every email was short and to the point, and anything else that needed to be written in more detail could be talked about in person.

          1. LizB*

            My workplace uses a lot of “eom” emails where you put the entire content of the message in the subject line followed by eom (end of message). Works great for quick things: “Staff meeting in Bob’s room at 2:25 eom”, “lost your keys? Talk to Jane eom”, “make sure all XYZ reports filed by Monday eom”, etc.

  25. Jillociraptor*

    This makes me think of the article Alison referred to the other day about how daydreaming helps you be more creative. That’s how I feel about momentary internet browsing. It sounds like the OP’s coworker is taking it to excessive lengths (though I agree with the other commenters who are suggesting that OP consider what things specifically affect her versus are just annoying), but I check AAM, Facebook, LinkedIn, read a news article here and there throughout the day. Switching my attention, particularly to something simple like Facebook or Can You Name that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Character from Emojis, sometimes helps me break through a mental rut. It’s just helpful to use your brain in different ways, and it’s not realistic to think that you can maintain sustained focus on one thing for a full 10 hour work day.

    Of course, there are days when reading ten HBR articles is me just avoiding something I know is going to be tedious; I’ll own that!

    1. Amber Rose*

      I sometimes catch myself looking desperately for an article I haven’t read because I’m putting off doing the receivables. =P

      Even the best jobs have tedious stuff that needs to get done, and it needing to be done doesn’t make it less awful.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I do a lot of writing in my position, and when I get stuck I browse AAM or the news or something until my brain works itself out. But I also tend to eat lunch at my desk when most of my coworkers go home or out to eat, so I figure it events out.

  26. Mike C.*

    I really feel like there’s a strong desire to grind an ax here. The fact that this question ignores any of the results of this particular employee’s work, the specific focus on age, the insistence that the internet would never be a temptation, the utter resentment at noticing someone else looking at Facebook and so on. I could be wrong, but I feel like I’ve heard this song before.

    Open the door, talk to your manager about issues that directly affect your job, and MYOB about every thing else. Just because someone appears to be a “slacker” doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing their job, aren’t producing great work or aren’t otherwise earning their paycheck.

    1. S*

      I knew this question rubbed me the wrong way somehow… thanks for laying it out in a coherent way. The focus on age, especially–it must be impossible that a younger coworker is more efficient at her job!

      1. Windchime*

        Except this person keeps the door closed specifically so that she can hear when someone is coming, which allows her to quickly click off the internet and to something different. So it sounds to me like the coworker *knows* that she’s not supposed to be surfing.

        But really, I think that keeping the door open and asking Coworker to stop interrupting is about all the OP can do. She has brought it up to the manager and the manager either doesn’t care or is working on it behind the scenes. (Or is like my manager, and is thinking, “OP hasn’t brought it up again, so therefore the situation must be resolved!”. Uh, no. We just don’t keep bringing it up because we know you already know).

        1. illin02*

          Even if the co-worker knows she shouldn’t be doing it, why is that the concern of the OP? The things that affect her are the door and the emails. Nothing wrong with bringing it up. Otherwise, leave it alone.

        2. AnonyLiz*

          How de we know that. The OP thinks that is the case but I highly doubt that the coworker has announced that she wants the door closed for specifically that reason. Maybe the coworker likes keeping the door closed because she doesn’t like hearing people in the hallway or there is someone who would always stop in to chat otherwise. We don’t know for sure why the coworker likes the door closed and it is wrong of the OP to assume. That said, even if she does keep it closed so she can hear when someone is coming, who cares. If she gets her work done and does it well, this really shouldn’t matter. If the OP truly wants the door open for a reason other than having someone catch the coworker in the act of surfing online, she should take it up with her directly.

          1. bkanon*

            I always keep a door closed because I have a serious issue with people coming up behind me unexpectedly. I WILL NOT sit with my back to an open door. I’ll stand or leave if there’s no other choice. I suspect that’s uncommon, but it could be another reason this person wants the door shut.

            1. Mike C.*

              I don’t think it’s all that weird. There are times I have my headphones in and I’m hyperfocusing on something only to be absolutely startled by the most polite of verbal greetings.

              1. LBK*

                I have the jumpiest coworker of all time. I try shuffling my feet as I approach, quietly knocking on her desk or filing cabinet, tapping her chair – she never notices anything until you wave your hands in her face and then she jumps a foot in the air. I’ve joked that I’m going to set up a little blinking light at the top of her monitor that I can ping to alert her of my presence.

            2. AnonyLiz*

              I am the same way. I don’t like it when people can sneak up behind me and always prefer to have the door closed if I have to have my back to it.

              1. bkanon*

                Once, I was walking along the sidewalk and got a tap on my shoulder. Whipped around, but no one was there. Not until I looked down to see the Very Very Large Man cowering on the sidewalk and doing his best to look invisible. My startle reflex apparently goes straight to MURDER FACE and he really did not want to die that day. We were both very apologetic to each other, and I did let him borrow my lighter.

                So, yeah, I reeeeallllly do not do well with people coming up behind me. Door closed or solid wall, please.

  27. YandO*

    Do we really leave work at work anymore?

    When clients call on a Saturday, I answer. I have a nice chat about their grandkids and answer their questions. I don’t bill my employer for those ten minutes. I also don’t bill my employer every time I check on my work email or answer a questions. Every time I have an epiphany in the shower. I also don’t bill my employer for the extra time it takes me to prepare for a special meeting/presentation and so on.

    Do we really leave work at work anymore? I’d say now. Most people do not. It would be beyond unreasonable to expect employees to leave their personal lives at the door when their professional lives follow them everywhere.

    1. Coach Devie*

      It would be beyond unreasonable to expect employees to leave their personal lives at the door when their professional lives follow them everywhere.

      Not a bad point!

    2. Robin*

      This. Exactly. My clients, and my husband’ clients, call us or email on nights and weekends. We don’t mind working with them, so during business hours we sometimes do the social media thing. It all works out.

    3. Jack K*

      I agree with you on the principle. The other management at my job and I all Facebook and text for personal reasons at work, but also use Facebook off the clock for communications that would have required on-the-clock meetings in the pre-Facebook era. Maybe it’s because we’re Millennials, but it’s never struck me as that unusual.

      But if somebody is really spending half their working hours on personal activities, it’s unlikely that they’re balancing it out with outside-the-office work.

  28. I think OP is nosy*

    I think this may BE generational. Who hasn’t occasionally done some shopping online when they need a break between spreadsheets? Who hasn’t had a ‘slower day’ when literally NO ONE else is in the office?

    I am extremely productive. I’ve never missed a deadline. My boss has never had an issue with my work quality or timeliness. I’m 26. I occasionally shop online while at work. I occasionally look at zillow while I’m at work. (Between projects, and never to procrastinate projects.) Most importantly – I FREQUENTLY look at while I’m at work!

    I also am frequently online once I’m back at home, if there’s a pressing matter that needs to be finished. I don’t leave work at work – so I find it only fair that if there’s something I need/want to do quickly, I do it.

    I am 26. I have a coworker who has a daughter my age and frequently refers to my cube-mate and myself as ‘children.’ (as in, Good Morning children!) She also, though not frequently, has complained to my boss that she’s seen me on my phone ‘texting or something’ while at work – remember, cubes, so open floor plan. My boss immediately told her to buzz off because I’m probably most frequently texting with him or a client – and if I’m not, that’s my business, because he has no issues with my work.

    So, I’m apt to think it’s SOMEWHAT generational here.

    1. I think OP is nosy*

      I realized I wrote that I’m 26 twice. I guess I just wanted to make that point very clear! (I forgot I’d already written it… should probably proofread before I post)

    2. S*

      Now that’s a good boss, who will stand up for you and the quality of your work like that.

      1. I think OP is nosy*

        Yea she kind of sucks in general so I think my boss relished a good reason to tell her to buzz off but… It still made me go *heh* :)

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      I don’t think it’s generational. I’m 54. I have a coworker who is one month younger than I am, and they are a complete slacker. They do a LOT of online shopping, facebooking and general surfing. Yes, I know I’m online; I’m on my lunch break.

      It’s really not a matter of not having enough to do. This person’s MO is to screw around, not get their work done that HAS to be done, and then be off sick, stuck in traffic, taking their (adult) children to appointments, taking the pet to the vet, etc., etc., so that someone else (guess who) has to do their job for them.

      Slackers come in all ages and slacking comes in all descriptions. I’m not certain that slacking is taking place in the OP’s situation, but if OP ends up doing any of this person’s work, I can really understand the resentment. It’s not about age.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, I’m in my 30s and have several coworkers older than me that waste tons of time every day. Surfing the internet, chatting in the hallways or in the break room for like 45 minutes or an hour at a time, long lunches, etc. (and I know these coworkers have work to do because they either complain about how much work they have to do and end up staying late into the night, and/or I’m working with them in some capacity and so know at least some of what they’re working on, so it’s not just because they have a lot of free time). It’s not generational.

    4. Allison*

      Are you me? I’m 26 as well, I do sometimes “goof off” at work (mostly Reddit, AAM, Twitter and news sites, I save the shopping for when I get home unless there’s something I need to order right away), but I do work and I do my work well, and in a timely manner. I try not to give anyone reason to be concerned about how I spend my time. AND I have a coworker who talks to me like I’m a child. She has a little girl at home and I don’t think she fully transitions out of “mommy mode” when she gets to work. There is another young woman on the team, but it’s tough to compare our transactions since she doesn’t work with this older coworker directly and I do.

      Although I do leave work at work for the most part, except for the days I work from home obviously. There have been exceptions where I’ll check on something from home and make sure we’re all set for the next day, but mostly my job does not require me to work on stuff after normal work hours.

      1. Mike C.*

        OH MY GOD. If another adult tired to speak to me like a child there would be hell to pay.

    5. KJR*

      I operate the exact same way you describe, and I’m 46…so not necessarily generational.

    6. Steve G*

      I don’t think its generational, I think your past coworker was just a nitwit. When I was 32 and my coworker was 28, our 35yo coworker would also ask about us “kids” and say “what are the kids doing this weekend?” So I think talking like that to people can be more a power move than a real generational thing…as in they are trying to imply a difference in status/experience between you that doesn’t exist, or is very small (well it was bigger between them and my coworker, but not enough to use the word kid)

      1. 2horseygirls*

        I had a boss who called people ‘kiddo’ — when was the last time you heard that?! I was a couple of years older than her daughter, so I didn’t fuss.

        However, my BFF has taken to doing this and she is two years younger than me! We’re in our 40s – do not call me kiddo. (In fairness, it does only happen in her office (dentist), but still …..)

      1. I think OP is nosy*

        Agreed. This woman is 56, her daughter is my exact age – which she will point out frequently. She’ll say things like ‘I don’t know how you’ve moved up so quickly my daughter is still entry level.’

        She is the office admin, and my position is very senior to her though she does not report to me. I think she hates that. The admin in my department (She’s in a diff dept) is 27 and she refers to us as the ‘teapot coloring dept. children’ on a regular basis.

        She often makes comment about how I may not even have been born when some ‘pop culture’ reference comes up. And frequently gets frustrated when she’s looped in to do admin things for our department like event planning

  29. silvertech*

    In my job the workload is unpredictable, so there are times when my team can surf the net or generally slack a bit with no harm done (actually, it helps us wind down, because things can get really crazy really fast).
    I have no problem with that if that’s not impacting the team productivity: OP, is your coworker actually producing the work she’s supposed to? If she doesn’t then that’s a performance issue that should be addressed.

    In my case I had to involve my own manager when I found out one of my coworkers, who had been producing sub par work for a while, was habitually using online dating sites and social media to talk with dozens of young women at the same. He had 50+ tabs open of Firefox, each one with a different chat going on, some with other websites and his personal gmail account (also with active chats), and he never locked his screen so everyone could see what he was doing. He also had plenty of notifications from adult websites (smart move to that at work!). He’s a piece of work, I’m so glad I won’t be working with him anymore quite soon!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      The IT person at a previous job showed me the screen once where he could see what websites people were on. There was a surprising amount of p0rn. I know we’ve discussed this before here at AAM, but at the time, I didn’t realize it was a thing. It just blew me away that people actually looked at that stuff AT WORK.

  30. Allison*

    Here are the times you’re allowed to do something about someone else’s internet usage:

    – You manage that person, either directly or as a department head, and you’re actually in charge of them. As in, someone has granted you authority over them, or permission to tell them what to do. Simply being having a more senior title doesn’t count.

    – You work in IT and you feel their browsing is inappropriate

    – You’re working with them on a project and they’re not doing what they need to be doing well enough or fast enough, and that’s impacting the part of the project you’re responsible for, causing delays or making you fix their sloppy work

    – They’re distracting you

    – You’re both doing the same thing, more or less, and they’re not pulling their weight

    – They’re slacking off in a visible area and it’s making the team look bad

    – They claim to be busy, or you keep checking in on a project and they say they’re working on it even though they’re clearly not

    Otherwise, if they’re not impacting you, you’re not in charge of them, and they’re getting their work done, let them goof off and focus on your own work. If you just tell the boss that they’re “playing on the internet” at work just because it’s technically against the rules, you’re basically tattling.

  31. El Admin-er*

    These comments are making me feel so much better about my job! I have a dead week each month with not much to do. At the minute I’m doing some studying, but it’s a small office and people have presumed before that I’m typing minutes up. There’s only so many times one can ask for work, browse the news and tidy there desk!

  32. John R*

    I get tasks to work on and due dates. Sometimes I work 10 hours a day on them, other times 7. Some days I work all day long or attend meetings, other days I have time to surf the web and even post comments on AAM :). Sometimes I can’t concentrate and surf the web at work but then do my work at home later in the evening after dinner. My point is–the work gets done and is quality work done on time. If someone at work sees me surfing the web, it’s none of their business. They don’t know if I’m on lunch, taking a break, etc. I agree that sharing internet stuff with co-workers isn’t appropriate, but overall I’d say MYOB *UNLESS* you get stuck doing this co-workers job, in which case they’re slacking and it’s appropriate to tell your boss.

  33. itsame...Adam*

    I think some of the perception has a bit to do with the generation gap, though. Assuming the other employee gets the assignments done, on time, and at the required quality level while being an exempt employee, there is no real problem. Traditionally, employees were valued by how many hours they put in. The more hours u work the better of an employee you are. The new kind of management focuses more about the work being done at the required quality and leaves it to the employee how to get it done. Of course, if she sucks at her job those distractions are most likely the reasons. I think the idea of time theft is somewhat old school (this does NOT mean outdated) and should only apply if there are performance problems.

  34. Melanie*

    I see things like this and I don’t blame the worker but the boss. If she is opening surfing the net than she doesn’t have enough to do or enough to challenge her. Now I say this with the assumption that she has her work completed on time…If not then yes she’s just a slacker. Maybe she is just faster at completing things and has some tricks up her sleeve to speed the process. Either way, boss needs to beef up her responsibilities. If she doesn’t surf the net, he’ll be paying her to twiddle her thumbs. If I was bored, I’d surf the net too.

  35. Ann O'Nemity*

    There should be a AAM flowchart for questions like this.

    If your coworker is annoying you…
    1. Does it affect your work?
    2a. No – MYOB
    2b. Yes – Have you talked to them?
    3a. No – Then talk to them and try to reach a solution together.
    3b. Yes – If they won’t change, talk to your manager…

    And so forth.

  36. Dasha*

    Hm, I had co-workers like this a while back. I was severely overworked and they all had tons of free time so I can sympathize with OP. It is a little disheartening when you’re working your butt off and other people are looking at cat pictures, especially when you’re at the same level and pay.

    BUT on the other hand, at another old job I just didn’t have enough to do. The owner of the company hired me but someone else was assigned as my manager. I think he was bitter and afraid the owner hired me to take over his job and would barely give me any work to do. Long story short I’d find new projects that needed to be done, ask for more work, try to help other departments and he would immediately shut it down because he wanted to keep me under his thumb. I ended up covering for the receptionist a lot, reading, and looking at stuff online. I eventually found a new job but the not enough work problem wasn’t my fault- my manager was trying to sabotage me.

    Now at my current job, I find myself looking at AAM a lot during the day but I don’t take a lunch break and I frequently work long hours and on the weekends so sometimes I just need a break during the day.

  37. Apparent Slacker*

    Across the five professional roles I’ve been in (with increasing responsibility) in the 15 years since I finished college, I’ve YET to have a job that couldn’t be done (and done WELL) in half the time I was actually in the office. I’ve have ALWAYS spent at least half my time on the internet at work. Even now, working only part-time (24 hours per week), I generally have ample time to both do my job very well and peruse the internet at least half the time I’m here.

    Honestly, my first thought when people talk about how difficult it is to get all of their work done in 40 hours each week, is that they must not be very good at managing their time.

    1. Steve G*

      What kind of role are you in? I strongly disagree with your last sentence. I was an Account Manager for 4 years and there seemed to be unlimited work or opportunities for work. Each customer’s portfolio could be analyzed and spliced and diced different ways until the cows came home (and a lot of that stuff couldn’t be automated because every customer’s requirements were different), and if you were done with all sorts of analytics to find a “hard” problem, you could do some sort of customer outreach, meet customers, update yourself on the industry, design a market update email blast….

      1. Apparent Slacker*

        Generally in Human Resources, with my current role being in compensation and benefits management more specifically. My work is cyclical by nature, meaning I have very predictable busy times and very predictable slow times.

        I will concede there are some roles – such as yours, as well as sales roles – where the opportunities to create more work for oneself are literally unlimited, and in the case of sales, they tend to be directly correlated with income potential.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I agree with, Steve G., there are rarely enough hours in my work week to get everything done and my email inbox clean. I have to prioritize things, and some things just don’t get done. That is common for most people I work with.

        Frankly the idea that there’s less than 40 hours of work in the week regularly strikes me as highly inefficient for the company and a symptom of a low level job that gets a assigned specific tasks without much independence. I understand occasion downtime and waiting for a task to run or someone else to provide key info or support jobs where people are paid to wait for customers to arrive, but my thought when someone says that they easily getting all their work done every week is that they don’t have enough work to do and if their management knew they’d give them more work.

      3. A Definite Beta Guy*

        Agree 110% (and yes I realize how dumb that % sounds). I work A/R with a couple other US-based people, all of us serving as Account Managers over a team of rote-work adjusters in India. Goals are set aggressively. There is no downtime. My co-worker has worked 60-70 hour weeks for 2 years straight. No vacation. He still won’t meet his targets.

        And then there are the government requests. Three days before Christmas, the government requested invoices for our top payer for the past 4 years. Our top payer is a Fortune 10 company. Every. Single. Invoice.

        There is no downtime, #thisisStalingrad.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’m in a job where the work never runs out – there’s always something more that can be done, and I’m expected to think of new things to do as well as existing tasks.

      However, I frequently end up doing work which has brief pauses. For example, right now I’m testing the performance of some code on simulated data. I run the code, which takes about five to ten minutes, plot the results, and check them. If it’s okay, I go onto the next test, if not, I try to figure out why. The time interval of five to ten minutes is not enough to effectively multi-task on anything that requires concentration, so I end up reading AAM.

    3. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      Some people that can’t get all their work done in 40 hours are dealing with bosses/companies that cut staff but not projects, thus squeezing more work out of fewer workers (usually while letting them know how “lucky” they are to have this job!).

      I hope I never have a job like that again, but they absolutely do exist.

  38. Brooke*

    For whatever reason, I work really efficiently. My boss loves what I churn out, and so do my internal customers. When I have downtime, I absolutely surf the internet. No one’s said anything, to my knowledge, and imagine even if they did, my boss would tell them to look at their own work habits before criticizing mine.

  39. Brooke*

    For whatever reason, I work really efficiently. My boss loves what I churn out, and so do my internal customers. When I have downtime, I absolutely surf the internet. No one’s said anything, to my knowledge, and I imagine even if they did, my boss would tell them to look at their own work habits before criticizing mine.

    (Sorry if this shows up twice – trying to delete/repost without a grammatical error!)

  40. Petulia*

    Anyone else a little weirded out by how shocked OP is that their coworker is looking at *gasp* CHILDREN available for adoption? Are we really assuming nefarious purposes here?

    If someone is interested in or considering fostering/adoption, this is pretty normal behaviour. My husband and I are considering it and even though we’re not in a position to do so right now, I’ve still spent time browsing available children in our State. It’s not like I’m shopping for them; it’s just part of thinking it through. I really don’t get how this is an issue here.

      1. Coach Devie*

        I sort of get this same feeling of OP. I think she just generally doesn’t like co-worker or is really bothered by the generational differences or personality differences?

        Granted, a co-worker who is super chatty all the time can be a distraction and annoyance, especially if we don’t share similar interests, but generally I enjoy being able to have casual conversation with people I have worked with when I worked a traditional job in the past. There were some people I didn’t click with and that was fine. Also, if co-worker is sending email links, they really can’t be that big of a distraction, because you don’t have to open them!!

        And yes, I actually used to do some work with an adoption organization and waiting children are posted on the website. It’s not abnormal or abysmal to browse the children. Some do it because they are looking to adopt or foster, some may be interested in donating to any grant funds for waiting children (common in overseas adoptions) or some may just want to offer up good thoughts and/or prayers for the children. This isn’t nefarious or weird or shocking.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, the emphasis was really strange, I”m not sure what the OP was going for there.

    2. Traveler*

      It seems like a personal thing to do at work. It’s not nefarious, but I think its mildly out of place. Not enough to warrant me going to a boss or writing in, just a “well that’s weird, but whatever works for them.”

    3. Maeve*

      I look at children for adoption all the time because someday I want to foster or adopt and I like thinking about it! I don’t think it’s that weird.

  41. ZSD*

    People used to read the newspaper at their desks? Really?
    I’ve wondered about this because I only entered the working world about five years ago, by which time of course I could surf the internet in my downtime. I’ve often wondered: how did people goof off at work before the internet? Really, what did y’all do? I’ve sometimes been tempted to pull out my novel at my desk during downtime; did people use to do that?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In the early 2000s, I worked with a (much older) guy who would seriously spend the first hour of his day reading the newspaper at his desk. He was in a research role and he claimed it was for work, but it clearly was not.

    2. TheLazyB*

      I was really shocked in a previous role to see a guy openly read the paper each morning.

      … turned out he was the comms guy and did a briefing on all health stories for senior managers. After a while I got to take on that task, although I did it electronically. It was awesome :)

      1. Mike C.*

        I did that unofficially for a group of old guys who liked to argue about politics every day at lunch. It was the only thing I enjoyed about my last job.

        Let’s just say you learn a whole lot about politics in the Middle East when you’re listening to people who grew up there.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Someone brought a paper newspaper to a program review last week, sat close to the front, and then proceeded to read the newspaper in front of everyone while the presenter was talking! Sure, it was a boring, terrible presentation, but he could’ve at least pretended to read it under the table or in the back of the room!

    4. afiendishthingy*

      I’m only 31 but I’m pretty sure you just made some people feel like antique relics. Reminds me of the time when I worked in a middle school and an 11-year-old asked a teacher “So have you ever listened to music on one of those record things?”

      My question is, forget goofing off, how did people WORK at work before the Internet? Or before computers were commonplace. Did you ever write on one of those typewriter things?? ;)

    5. afiendishthingy*

      Also after writing that I’ve suddenly remembered that when I worked at a call center they had blocked all of the internet except the company’s website. I read Infinite Jest, did a whole lot of Sudoku, cryptograms, and paint-by-numbers puzzles, wrote grocery lists, etc. I remember one day one of my coworkers brought in paper dolls, which was a pretty fun day. And yes, some people did read the newspaper.

      1. salad fingers*

        Had a very similar experience in a reception job when I was 19. Read a million books (including infinite jest) and somehow figured out that I could hack into Flickr (only Flickr tho?), became ridiculously aware of budding photographers, some of whom were acquaintances who I ended up stalking the hell out of. Also did a lot of crosswords and sudoku.

        That was a really nice college job…

    6. The IT Manager*

      I had a co-worker who read books at her desk. She got told by the manager to stop because she should have been offering to help others and pick up more work.

  42. Hedgehog*

    I work in a place where there is hardly any work to do, and there’s a lot of internet surfing, including by the slacker boss. The boss will also waste time by talking your ear off about his many projects. He’s a real narcissist. I can’t tell him “I’m sorry, I have to get to project X” since he knows there’s no project X. But recently, I’ve started to kind of blow him off when he starts to talk to me.

    Yesterday, I got my review, and I got an earful about how I’m not sociable enough, and I’m isolating myself and not being friendly enough to a certain coworker and the student assistants we have (I work at a college). And how I could create a much more congenial atmosphere by doing so. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. While he feels my work still exceeds expectations, he gave me black marks for this other stuff and moved me to a more highly visible position (someone above him said I wasn’t visible enough/waiting on people enough. Funny because sometimes I have to get up in the middle of one of his conversations to serve someone).

    I’m at the point where I believe all I can do is quit this job. He’s backed me into a corner.

  43. she got a move that'll steal your soul*

    I don’t think the issue is generational, the amount of work done, or even really the internet use.

    I actually think the issue is coworker’s constant distractions.
    If you’ve never tried to work with someone who will. not. shut. up. about every little thing that crosses their mind: it’s absolutely infuriating. You can never really dig into work and focus because you’ve always got to hold back a bit to deal with the nattering (either to answer or just to process it as language). Add in the emails about stuff OP doesn’t care about and keeping the door closed so that the distractions can happen more often and more easily and things are basically at the BEC stage.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, and also if you’re working your ass off, it would seriously suck to share an office with someone who spends half the day playing on the internet. I

      1. James*

        Perhaps it’s not that you’re actually working your ass off, but that you’re not as productive and/or good at your job.

        I have two employees. They both have the same job requirements, both are expected to produce the same results at the same rate. One of them can do her job while surfing the internet half the day. The other comes in early, leaves late and works furiously the whole time.

        Classic business management calls for the surfer to be fired and the other person to be promoted.

        Luckily, though, business is starting to wise up and realize that the surfer is the one who needs the promotion, and the other person actually might need to re-evaluate if they’re up for the job.

        Read Drive by Dan Pink. It will turn the way you look at productivity and motivation on its head.

      2. Erin*

        It also sucks to share an office with someone who is constantly talking about how busy they are, despite the fact that they rarely seem to accomplish anything. ;)

        1. amanda2*

          My office is right next to THIS EXACT PERSON! According to her she is the busiest person around. If you ask her how she is doing, the answer is always some variations of “Oh, I’m sooooooo busy!” However, everyone at work knows that she is the exact opposite of busy. She is probably the least productive person here. She spends a good portion of her time turning down projects or claiming she can’t take on anything else because she’s “too busy.” It’s actually awkward to ask her to do anything because you have to then listen to her come up with various excuses as to why she can’t (all of which related back to her being tooooooo busy) even though you know she can. Meanwhile, she spends most of her day chatting and walking around, playing poker on her computer, and, of course, complaining about being busy. It’s super annoying, but I accept that it’s also none of my business. If our boss isn’t going to do anything about it, what can I do? I have brought it to my boss’s attention at times when I needed this co-worker to DO something and get involved in a project I was leading but the boss is unwilling to have any hard conversations with her or require that she be more productive. So, unfortunately, I now avoid this co-worker and don’t try to get her to do anything (which, I suppose, is what she wants).

      3. illin02*

        I don’t know, it seems too much worrying about what someone else is doing. Especially if this is a different job.

  44. Ellie H.*

    I’m genuinely shocked, I expected the comments to be 100% castigation of the slacker coworker. I just felt bad for her reading the question. I guess this isn’t true of many people who read the internet when they are supposed to be working, but I have had times when I’ve had a really hard time focusing on work I should have been doing and spent too much time on unrelated internet practices. I felt terrible and hated myself the whole time and eventually had to block basically EVERY site I could ever think of visiting. I still have a terrible time focusing on most things I am supposed to be doing and it makes me miserable. Very few things seem to work. I don’t even have internet at home (I am a graduate student now, so supposed to work at home) and procrastinate by reading print materials – I really worry if I had an office job and had to work in front of a computer 8 hours a day what it would be like.

    1. Amanda*

      I do the same thing – my job is 40% stuff I have to do and 60% projects have (almost) complete freedom over. My job is great and I get super excited about most of the tasks that are in my work plan. I get nothing but glowing reviews and comments about how quickly my work gets done – I was always the kid in school finishing tests and assignments way before anyone else.

      And, I spend at least half of my day surfing the web. It’s a real problem and I feel so guilty about it, but I almost can’t stop. I block websites, keep my phone in my bag, write to-do lists and schedules, plan interesting projects that are exciting – everything I can to take away the distractions but nothing seems to help. I have extreme perfectionist tendencies coupled with extreme impostor syndrome, which leads to just feeling paralyzed at work, even though I am really good at what I do and enjoy the work when I actually do it. Beyond frustrating!

      Anyway, back to the original question – absolutely, the coworker needs to stop bugging the OP with needless internet stuff. It does sound like she knows she shouldn’t be online that much (since she closes the door to give herself time to get back to work if anyone comes in) but if she’s getting work done, then the only issue is her being inconsiderate of the OP’s time.

      1. Violet Rose*

        I am in the same boat as you, right down to perfectionist tendencies and imposter syndrome. It tends to lead to a downward spiral of “[small distraction] -> YE GODS I AM A FAILURE -> I must distract myself from my guilt -> [more distraction]”. The pomodoro technique helps me, because I have a timer that keeps track of how many pomodoros I’ve done – it’s easier to fight off the PARALYZING FEELINGS OF GUILT if there’s a friendly tomato-shaped icon reminding me that I did x pomodoros today!

        1. Amanda*

          I just started using a pomodoro extension on Chrome and it’s great! The problem with other site blockers was I would give myself a very strict amount of time (like 20 minutes) for the whole day to access blocked sites, and then just use a different browser. With the little tomato, I just need one second of feeling productive to click it and bam, 25 minutes of blocked sites / easier working.

    2. Traveler*

      I think the percentages are probably skewed by the number of people here that read AAM from work.

      I feel bad for the OP. I think some of the anger is a bit misdirected. But the part where the coworker is distracting them or making them suffer a stuffy room so they don’t get caught browsing, that sucks.

      1. S*

        What bothered me the most is the judgmental wording (I don’t know if it was intentional, so I hesitate to say ‘tone’) in the OP’s letter and the opening of the letter that made it immediately about the debate about “millennials vs. boomers” or what have you. It was not because I was reading the post from my cubicle during a period of downtime.

        There was also strange emphases in the letter that made this way more personal than “my coworker won’t stop talking to me.” Since when is looking at pictures of children on adoption agency websites something that needs to be scrutinized and pointed out?

        1. Traveler*

          I just meant if we’re reading AAM at work, and it sounds like many of us admittedly are, we’re pretty likely to be in the category of “some internet browsing at work is okay”. It sounds like OP is in the “no internet browsing at work” category, and if that’s the case, you already have a dichotomy without even getting into the other arguable points of the letter. If you put this out to a wider audience, there might be more people in OP’s no internet at work category, whatever their reasons might be for that. Which would change the percentages.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. This group by definition has self-selected as largely people who think some internet browsing at work is okay.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      The internet only kills my productivity when I’m working from home. At the office I’m fine with spending a few minutes here and there looking at AaM, shopping, or checking Facebook or Tumblr occasionally (although the latter two only on my phone, I won’t look at them on my work computer), but I work in a room of 12 half-cubes and would feel weird spending a long time on those things. What kills me at the office is talking to coworkers; it’s generally work related but it frequently seems like each conversation is five minutes of new information/plans and ten minutes of rehashing yesterday’s conversation. And then somebody comes in with a nutty story about a client I don’t even have, but I want to hear the story and add my own invaluable insights (like “whoaaaa what a whack-a-doodle”). And then I realize I’ve typed two sentences in an hour. Headphones and hiding at my coworker-on-maternity-leave’s secluded desk help but unfortunately not as much as staying later and working when nobody’s there.

      At home, no distracting people, but “5 more minutes” looking at Tumblr is a much longer five minutes… Focusing is hard.

    1. ZSD*

      I sometimes torture myself by looking at the insanely low housing costs in my hometown and comparing them to the costs in the big city I live in now.

      1. Traveler*

        And then for a few moments, I consider the idea of returning home. Then I remember why I left and why housing costs are so low. Still kinda bitter though.

  45. James*

    In regards to the “is it okay to surf the net during the work day,” I think it all comes down to management approach and I have to disagree with Alison that this has anything to do with being a “slacker.”

    At the end of the day, are you the type of manager who needs to know exactly what your employees are doing at all times? Or are you more focused on the end result?

    My money is with the second approach leading to more innovative, happy, productive workers.

    1. Erin*

      Exactly. A good manager shouldn’t even have to stop and think when asked whether they’re paying their employees for their time or their talent.

    2. AnonyLiz*

      100% agree. If the coworker gets her work done and does it well who cares. The OP should address the things that directly impact her work and not be so focused on the coworkers activity.

  46. Coach Devie*

    I haven’t had an office job in a few years, but the last two that I had, I most definitely surfed the internet during down time or in time with doing my tasks or projects. It never suffered my productivity, my bosses were aware of it (second job even explained this was okay/expected during down time and any sites we were absolutely forbidden to visit were of course blocked which I never came across) and since I was able to do my job efficiently and meet or exceed expectation it was never a problem.

    I personally actually work better when I can focus 80% on project and 20% I can do a little here and there on the side. (these percentages are just random numbers for display purposes) but I have a bit of ADHD and being able to purposefully/purposely distract myself from time to time, actually keeps me on task — If that makes sense. It’s never been a problem, and is actually still how I work now even tho I am self-employed. (matter of fact, when I need a bit of “downtime” or a mental break from project, I often find myself here reading for a bit!!) If I couldn’t distract myself in this way, I think my projects would actually suffer because I might clock out mentally instead and it would slow me way down.

    If co-worker is getting her work done at or above expectations, I personally don’t see a problem. I think OP generally doesn’t like co-worker and she’s a bitch eating crackers to her. But, OP definitely should discuss the door thing if the office is stuffy and hot, especially as it is summer time and just let the co-worker know she doesn’t wish to make small talk all the time. She doesn’t have to open any email links co-worker sends her, either, so they don’t have to cause a distraction to her.

    1. AnonyLiz*

      I agree. I have to admit that I wonder if the office is really as stuffy as the OP says or if it more of a desire to have someone catch the coworker….

    2. The IT Manager*

      When your web surfing was approved by your bosses did you hide it from everyone else in the office by clicking off of it when someone walked up?

      Sound like the co-workers knows her web surfing not acceptable.

      1. Brooke*

        I know some web surfing is fine where I work, but I do still usually click away. Probably just an overly guilty conscience.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I click away when I’m surfing the internet during my lunch break if someone walks by. Reflex, I guess.

          1. Brooke*

            Yep, ditto. Especially if I’m looking at something that’s a guilty pleasure like TMZ. *blush*

  47. Coach Devie*

    Although I am generally in favor of allowing employees the flexibility to do things like this as long as they are doing their job, I will add one thing, in defense of OP, at my last job, where it was known that we would have down time and it was okay to surf the net during this time or in between projects I did have one co-worker who took too much advantage of this relaxed atmosphere.

    She was taking online classes and doing work for her side business while at work and would be so distracted that she wasn’t helping out at all. We had a semi-high customer facing role (she and I shared same title) and I was regularly picking up her slack while still handling my own projects and duties (and I still was able to surf at my leisure) but she definitely wasn’t one of those people who should have been afforded that much slack as she wasn’t able to manage it well. It actually did make me resent her for it, because boss wasn’t aware it was happening (I never said anything, which is my fault) until after I left. I found out later when someone replaced me after I left that it became painfully obvious and she was eventually let go.

  48. IndianSummer*

    These comments have seriously made me feel so much better about my situation. I have very little work to do, and I have repeatedly asked for more work. Out of frustration, I have stopped asking for more work and recently moved into acceptance mode where I simply embrace my lack of work and take advantage of the extra time.

    However, I am ultimately still bored out of my skull (and actively applying/interviewing elsewhere).

  49. Sloop*

    I would be curious to know how the OP knows the employee is slacking all day long if she’s swamped with work. How is she so busy at work but monitoring the slacker?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, there are lots of office set-ups where you can clearly see someone else’s computer while you’re working.

      Plus the coworker keeps telling her what she’s doing.

  50. Coach*

    A couple other things that stood out to me, that make me think that the OP just generally dislikes coworker and views her as a ‘bitch eating crackers’ is mentioning that on Zillow she is looking at “mansions,” (instead of just saying she’s browsing Zillow or looking at houses, it seemed that she was making an extra point of the “mansions” for some kind of reason) the emphasis on CHILDREN and mentioning the “luxury” of surfing the net (while also mentioning that she herself didn’t desire to) she also noted co-worker toggles back and forth doing her work. So if co-worker manages her time this way and is getting her work done, the OP just really sounds like she dislikes her, has some axe to grind, there is some kind of envy or she just generally dislikes the age gap or is staring down her nose at her because of the way she works not feeling “traditional” to her.

    I hate to sound like I am piling on OP, and I am perhaps reading her tone wrong, but it really feels this way here. Would love clarity from OP if she decides to add to the convo.

    1. zora*

      I disagree. I think people are being way too harsh to the OP. She pointed out that the coworker keeps telling her about things she finds on the internet, and that she clicks away whenever someone comes in the room. She clearly knows she *shouldn’t* be on the internet so much, so there is probably work she should be doing. Plus, she is distracting OP with comments and emails that are not work-related. I think the coworker is likely slacking and is on top of that being rude about it. But then the OP is getting increasingly irritated and bringing in other details that are not her business on top of that.

      I think she is right to be annoyed and don’t think there’s an axe to grind situation here. I agree with Alison that she should tell her to shush and stop distracting her, and talk to her about keeping the door open. And then work to let some of the other issues go, because it’s not about *what* she is looking at on the internet, it’s about her un-office-neighbour-ly behaviour.

      1. Steve G*

        + 1. I just came back to see OP’s comments so am disappointed they aren’t on right now. I agree with Zora and am surprised by the comments as well! I found it interesting that so many people thought it was OK to slack off during the day and that so many people were saying MYOB. It’s kind of makes a juxtaposition…..we’re supposed to be team players and have excellent communication skills at work, but ignore all of the negative things our coworkers do, only focusing on the positive? That doesn’t make sense. That’s why it’s important to generally get along with and communicate with everyone in your office so when something does arise, you can address it naturally in a conversation and not have it turn into a thing….

        1. Mike C.*

          There’s one thing you’re missing from your analysis. Just about everyone here who is saying “MYOB” is also saying, “Yes, keep the door open, complain about being constantly distracted” and so on. Surfing the web isn’t, in and of itself affecting the OP, thus she shouldn’t be concerned about it.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I feel for the LW. It’s a very frustrating situation. She’s busy enough that she doesn’t have the luxury to goof off at work, and co-worker distracts her while simultaneously flaunting that she’s not working. And the co-worker knows she shouldn’t be surfing the internet all day long b/c she makes an concerted effort to hide her web surfing. If all this web surfing was acceptable in the office, she wouldn’t be hiding it like she is.

        That said, unfortunately for “fairness”, it is not the role of a co-worker to keep other co-workers in line. It’s the manager and the LW says manager knows, and like so many not so great managers is avoiding the uncomfortable conversation needed to get the co-worker back in line.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          Yeah but some people are “busy” because they are inept are inefficient in their jobs. I can do twice the work of most of my colleagues because I have streamlined my work practices , I focus and I don’t chit-chat or gossip in the course of my interactions. I treat myself to a little web browsing because it refreshes me quickly and improves my focus. I hide what I look at, not because it’s “wrong ” but because I don’t want people asking me about it. That would defeat the purpose.

          1. Michele*

            This is so true, and it’s sometimes hard to determine how much time it SHOULD take someone to do their job, for a variety of reasons. I’m 4 months into a new role – one that had a pretty steep learning curve, as it’s a very specific silo within the broader farm of my industry – and one I did not have previous experience with. My predecessor was in the role for FIFTEEN YEARS, and in the course of training me to replace her, she provided meticulously detailed checklists for how to accomplish every single task and an outline of how much time it took her to complete each one. She specifically talked about how even after 15 years, she still worked directly from her checklists. As in, she read every single line, which often provided exhaustive instructions for how to do something as simple as ‘highlight all’ in an Excel worksheet. I’m not kidding.

            Well, I used her checklists for about 2 months until I developed some familiarity with my responsibilities, learned the various systems we use, and developed some confidence in my ability to do the job without a piece of paper holding my hand. Then I abandoned and and destroyed her checklists, and created my own streamlined versions that outline key steps, but do not provide specific instructions for how to open up a Word document.

            Four months in and I’m able to do the job in ONE FIFTH of the time it took her to do it after fifteen years! So now I’ve moved on to improving every other system she designed for the company, because they’re all wildly inefficient garbage!

            1. Fish Microwaver*

              That sort of thing drives me beserk. It is a kind of laziness and arrogance rolled into one that makes my skin crawl. Talk about time wasting and stealing!

      3. Anonsie*

        Yeah, I think the LW needs to put the clamp down on the disruptive behaviors but also let the rest of it go.

  51. Elder Dog*

    OP can your coworker reposition her desk or her monitor so someone walking by can’t see what she’s doing? That would help with leaving the door open. You might suggest it if it’s possible. That will make it more likely she’ll take your request she not send you links or talk at you while you’re working with more attention to your needs.

  52. Lisa Petrenko*

    The letter wrote may not have enough info. While it definitely looks bad to spend all day online instead of working, I wonder if these 2 have the same position, there is no sense of whether these 2 have the same workload. I also wonder if the browser is caught up on her work. Of course, a more ambitious employee would find a way to take on more responsibility, but it is possible she doesn’t have enough work to fill an entire day and is actually completely caught up and needs to fill her time with something. Maybe the boys just doesn’t care because all her work is up to date and excellent, and there is nothing more to do. Or, of course, she may just be a lazy slacker living to procrastinate. Which will catch up to her eventually. The writer already brought it up with her boss, so there really is nothing else to do but do the best job yourself.

  53. Anonsie*

    I have two thoughts here:

    1 – Are you sure she’s spending a disproportionate amount of time surfing the internet? I am often concerned people at work will assume this about me because rather than taking a few longer breaks during the day, I tend to just flip to something distracting (news, AAM, personal email, online shopping) for <3 minutes between tasks. It helps change gears for me. Sometimes it's even just looking to see if there's anything new on the front page of a news site and then flipping right back. Just shifting attention helps. But I'm always afraid people will walk by and see me on Yahoo nine times in one day and think I'm farting around the whole time.

    2 – Beware of letting the age thing color your perception here. Don't assume the worst of her because she's young. I worked with a couple of people in my early 20's who felt the need to calculate my age into everything and they always tended to jump to the worst possible conclusions about me, it was really strange and caused some weird problems where they kept trying to fix things around me that weren't actually broken.

    1. Brooke*

      “Don’t assume the worst of her because she’s young. I worked with a couple of people in my early 20’s who felt the need to calculate my age into everything and they always tended to jump to the worst possible conclusions about me”

      I had the same thing in reverse. I’m 36, look like I’m in my twenties and work with people who are nearly twice my age. They assumed I didn’t know what I was doing which couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

  54. Kelly*

    I honestly think that going online and shopping, going on Reddit/Facebook, etc, is not that terrible if you run out of work to do. There’s only so much make work/busy work that you can do to appear to be doing something. The advantage of killing time at your desk is that if something comes up you can start that task. That really isn’t possible if you are away from your desk having a coffee break or gossiping with coworkers.

    I do think that if you are spending too much time doing personal tasks and some outside work when you have issues getting your work tasks done on time, it’s an issue. I have one coworker who regularly will use his work down time to prepare for board meetings for a church organization he’s a part of. That’s a problem because that’s against state regulations. It wouldn’t be as much of a problem if he were viewing documents and sending emails from his personal account. He uses his office printer to print out reports and the work scanner to email them to others. The printer is an issue because we are having our supply budget cut over the next two fiscal years. Printers are a significant part of our supply budget and he’s using some of that limited money for personal use. He’s also going through a divorce right now. It was annoying last week to see him scanning some paperwork related to that when he had a backlog of work to do. The boss didn’t say anything but it’s not her style to bring issues like work and time management to your attention once she notices them. She springs them on your during your much delayed annual review, so she has something to criticize you for.

  55. Jill*

    I agree with others that this should be a MYOB issue – unless and until it affects OP”s ability to do their own work. To that end, if Co-irker and I had the same job title/duties, and I was assigned more work or asked to come in on weekends or something like that, this would be the point at where I’d give a very firm “Hell to the No” (professionally of course) and be firm with my boss that I’m not taking on any more work or additional hours when So and So has enough free time to spend most of her day surfing the web.

    And, OP, I might save all those forwards she sends you in a special folder if ever you need evidence of just how often she’s forwarding you non-work stuff.

  56. mel*

    Oh gosh, I would probably go straight to option 3! It couldn’t REALLY harm the work relationship that much, since what the heck is she going to be mad about? If she’s trying to hide it, then she KNOWS that what she’s doing isn’t okay, so it’s not a factor of experience. So if she is doing something that’s not cool, how is she going to sulk after she is called out?

    Well, she can’t. Can’t really complain to the boss either. Can’t complain to other coworkers who are also going to be annoyed by it. I hope being called “old school” isn’t such a big deal as to scare a person into submission?

    Otherwise, give her more work to do? If she’s literally not doing anything, then they must not need her position very badly!

  57. Mr. Card*

    I am having this issue at my job right now. When there’s work to do I do it, when there is nothing to do I usually surf the internet and check my phone. This has not been an issue up until the last few months when someone has felt the need to tattle me. We’re in a bit of a slump right now and they’ve had to lay people off, surprisingly that didn’t include me and I’ve tried to remain busy as best as I can. But we hit these long drags with nothing to do. My co-worker/lead has informed me that someone keeps complaining about my internet use.

    Now I do think that part of the problem is that the complainer (suspected anyway) has a different job assignment than mine and it keeps her busier than myself at times. I also don’t understand why I am getting complaints because unlike he other people here I am a temp and I only have a few months left here anyway before I become unemployed again. I mean honestly, I am no threat to anyone and by October I will be gone can’t people just mind their own business?

  58. Swiller*

    I would be the same as a few above i work heard get my work done and browse when i can , work comes first , i learned the hard way when i was younger but now my boss adores me and my work ethic
    but two guys in my office all day long use the web , its very demoralising as they struggle with their work and dont seem to know whats going on and at times have held back the team
    ive actually have but a collection of videos together of them same time using the web at different points of the day
    im tempted to go to my boss and make her aware but i do not want to be deemed as tell tailing
    what should i do?

  59. Irene*

    Commenting as a boss in this situation, sometimes you don’t have any options.

    I have a subordinate who frequently AWOLS during their shift, but I’m going to keep him. Why?
    -It will LITERALLY take 2 months to get a replacement if he’s let go. (It took 2 months to replace the last one.)
    -I will have to do his workload during that entire time because my company refuses to staff our location with enough people so that I don’t have to do the work of 3-5 people.
    -The contracting company will not let him go. (I actually have no authority to fire him because he’s not a direct employee of the company. They only let the last one go because security caught him stealing on camera.)
    -His contract is up at the beginning of March. (He actually thinks that I’m going to rehire him based on his current performance–which also includes a consistently bad attitude, poor attendance, and occasionally lackluster performance. His coworker–my other subordinate–recently ratted him out saying that he’s been doing all the work he’s been claiming to do.)

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