The Temp

Calling all bosses - I bet you know plenty of ways to stop people working, but have you tried hot-desking, downsizing, copier codes, clean desk policies and clocking on? Morale will soar...

I put a pile of pages into the photocopier feeder and press the start button. Nothing happens. Press it again. No response. Sighing, I look at the instruction panel and, with a sinking heart, read the message: ENTER CODE. It's been jammed to stop anyone copying their CV, novel, chain letter or whatever without accounting for it.

Getting a photocopier code is like getting someone's PIN number: no-one wants to tell you. The person you are replacing will have forgotten to tell you in the mad rush to spend two weeks drinking themselves stupid and sitting on blokes from Rotherham. Your boss will have a code, but only his or her secretary knows what it is. You can waste half an hour finding out a copier code.

Bosses know loads of ways to stop employees working. All have plenty of their own, but as the essence of business is communication, you might like to consider these, all of which I've come across in other businesses. They fall into two basic categories; ergonomic and economic.

Ergonomic efforts include hot-desking. This means having fewer desks than you have employees and letting no-one put dibs on a seat. It works a treat: people can spend hours each day going: "Is anyone anyone sitting here?" and arguing about which software applications they need, answering each other's phone calls and trying to locate each other. Clients will get so tired of waiting on hold that they will stop calling altogether. This will give the company an ideal opportunity to:

Downsize. Regular sackings ensure that survivors spend their time discussing who will be next. A spin-off is that employee workloads increase to such a level that they get ill and make mistakes. Corporations can also seize the opportunity to sell off vacated desks, chairs and equipment for two quid each, thereby prolonging hot-desking.

If none of these works, institute a Clean Desk policy. This is one of those anal ideas popular with people who do nothing: that all desks should be spotless at the end of each day. Those who have work that takes more than five minutes find themselves scooping stuff into bottom drawers and spending the first half-hour of the morning sorting them out again. It's brilliant.

Economic work-stoppers - the coded photocopier school of thought - can be taken to much greater extremes. First, lock the stationery cupboard. Assign the key to one person, preferably someone who likes to cut breakfast cereal coupons out of colour supplements at weekends. Give them the following script: "Two biros? Why do you need two? The book shows that you got through two last month as well. More Post-it notes? What do you think, they grow on trees?" Your employees will half-inch each other's stationery, and no-one will ever have a pen to take phone messages with.

Monitor phone extensions and produce printouts of each one on a monthly basis in case anyone rings their bank manager, dying sister in Toronto, or home. Of course, it will never occur to anyone to use another desk for personal calls. This combines well with hot-desking, as you can shout at whoever happens to be sitting at a high-bill desk on the day the printouts come through. Morale will rocket.

You can also try the following: clocking in and out (making no allowances for hours worked the week before), refusing to take your tax-deductible allowance for Christmas parties, having one fax machine per 100 staff (long queues), having men in uniform to check handbags at going-home time, and having stamps in administrators' drawers rather than franking machines. Your employees will feel loved, trusted and ready to die for you.

If all else fails, though, try this one, which I came across in one of the privatised utilities. Each floor held about 200 people, and each desk had a piece of string dangling from the ceiling above it. Every hour, on the hour, all the lights would go out: 200 people would stand up, fumble for their piece of string, switch on their own section of strip-light, sit down again and wait for the next time it happened. I don't know if the saving on electricity ever equalled the cost in burnt-out lights, but at least we all had an hourly reminder of the sands of time trickling inexorably through our findersn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...