I was just thinking back over my career as a digital artist in the Multimedia and Film Visual effects industry.
Back in 1999 we were short in modelling resources on a project so we hired a bloke who will go by the code name Chappy.
Chappy was a nice enough bloke, but had basically been long term unemployed and was overjoyed at the possibility of having fulltime employment.
He really overdid it coming to work in a evening suit covered in cologne on his first day. This was a little bit of a warning sign that he didnt really understand the norms of the digital workplace, for those not in the know, a tshirt hoody jeans and sneakers are pretty much the uniform.
Anyway we overlooked his attire and put him to work in the tools that he claimed that he had the skills to operate.
Things were amiss, what he claimed to be able to do and what he was delivering was a little out of whack. Anyway with training we thought Chappy could attain the skills to get the job done. We gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Then another thing came up that rang some alarm bells. Remember this is 1999 so there is no streaming YouTube on your desktop. Chappy had formed a TV Soap addiction while being long term unemployed. Something I am happy to admit to taping episodes of Bold and the Beautiful on VHS so we could keep up with the happenings of the fashion industry on day time soap land. Anyway, this didnt occur to Chappy. He thought he could watch it while he was at work, so he bought in his mini TV set it up on his desk and watched while he was at work. Not during an allocated TV watching slot that was made available as company policy, he just helped himself to some company time to feed his media habit.
So the alarm bells were ringing, Chappy was not good at his job, he was using company resources, the time we were paying him to do modelling, for his own benefit feeding his media habit. Not unlike a cashier operator taking some resources out of the till for their own benefit. We decided that this wasn’t what the company needed so we had to let Chappy back into the dole queue to feed his media habit at the taxpayers benefit rather than at the company’s expense.
So lets fast forward 17 years now it is 2016, and I am still pretty much doing the same thing, making media for companies to sell to consumers. Rather than multimedia for the fitness industry, it is visual effects for the Hollywood film industry.
Now we have lots of people with media habits. The media isn’t a daytime soap opera. It is thousands of things: social media, podcasts, tv episodes, digital newspapers, opinionated bloggers etc etc. So while we are at work there are little blocks of time that are fragmented so small that you can take a micro break and take in one of these many forms of media. When I was working in Molecular Biology, if you were incubating something for 20 minutes and your lab book was up to date, why not take in the view and have a cigarette. So I have nothing against taking little breaks to punctuate the day.
But things have got so out of hand
People will spend up to six hours of the day consuming their media content while “working”. I have listened to music while working. If it is an album that I have known for many years, it is just comforting noise, doesn’t occupy my thoughts. But when your eyes are watching footage and listening to dialogue, I cannot fathom how this couldn’t disrupt your concentration. That said people have listened to talkback radio in the workplace for decades, so maybe I am barking up the wrong tree.
Anyway nowadays we are going to a workplace with an Internet blackout for security reasons, people see it as some sort of injustice that they cannot take their little microbreaks or extended binges. Yet back in 1999 we had to let someone go for pretty much the same reason.
Why have the standards changed so much?
How much do our media habits cost the workplace?