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

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam