Sunday, April 11, 2010

Undertime !

I learnt a new word today -undertime.It means  time spent by an employee on leisure during working hours .Now,when I say leisure, I mean like a person chatting on phone,surfing the net ,typing personal letters,going shopping,etc -all during office hours.Yes,of course one can debate that the phone chat was official,net surfing was also official & so on .The  only characteristic, that makes the said activity official, is that, it was done during the course of employment,nothing more.

Some people are very disciplined.They are the earliest to arrive in office & then they start their long phone chats.But then, this is not undertime,isn't it.Yes,it is not, till it continues  before the office timings but, if the chatting continues after the office timings have started,it becomes undertime.Which is what usually happens- obviously on office phones,the calls are pretty long as office is footing the stupendous bill or bills.There are others who stay back after office hours to chat on phone.Sometimes,they even get paid for overtime- for  working overtime on the phone !

I initially worked in an office in a moffusil area.Some computers were shifted to our branch offices for easing data entry work.This, in turn, led to the transfer of a data entry operator to the branch.He would very sincerely do his work but beyond that,he refused to do any other work even if he was sitting idle.On Fridays,there would be load shedding & hence the data entry operator would just sit & stare at others  .Our requests to him to make himself useful would elicit responses like," My salary makes it unaffordable for me to do any other work other than data entry." His colleagues would just stare at him with jealousy & lament their  fate that they had to continue working whilst he lazed away.

Once,I had picked up some vegetables on my way to office.It was a Friday & the power went off.The data entry operator took my jhola containing the vegetables & started cleaning the veggies.I begged him to do some other office work but he continued with his undertime.He also quipped, that if any executives came for a surprise visit, he would tell then that his boss ( me ) had ordered him to do the cleaning ! Thankfully,nobody came & I was spared the undue explanations about the supposed official undertiming by the employee.Obviously,I was glad that my veggies had got cleaned at office expense during undertrime of an employee but not myself ! This was a double whammy ! I had more time for rest- at home,that is .

In the suburban office,the man Friday, in office, was notorious for being absent for hours together.He would go to bank to deposit the day's collection & on the way back,he would be undertiming.He would even have a haircut by undertiming .He was of the firm opinion, that he had a license to undertime as he worked so hard -for the Company ,that is ! But all this led to his doing overtime till late nights as work was always pending for reasons which were there for all to see.

On one occasion,all male employees went to enjoy an extended lunch which went on for nearly three hours ! They were undertiming en masse ! This can be coined male bonding nah undertiming.But then ,men always complain about females bonding about everything except work.Maybe, this male group undertiming is an exception -one too many !

So,you can understand that overtime & undertime are opposites  in one sense but similar  in another sense.The meanings of the words are opposite to each other.They are both, the same in a way, as both lead to a drain on the employer.In fact,undertiming is the cause why overtime becomes a necessity !

The absence of undertime would have robbed employees of the gold mine of overtime ! So both need each other or better still, thrive in the presence of each other !

1 comment:

Aarti said...

Interesting insight into a PSU work culture!

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