Productivity of a Software Engineer

This is an aggregation of inputs from a few software engineers.

On an average, a software engineer runs late everyday. The idea in their little heads is that, he or she left work late the previous day (That was actually a half-hearted compensation for the extra long lunch, the day before).

The moment he arrives, you can hear a lot of huffing and puffing, either because they are over-weight and trying to take the stairs or simply announcing their arrival.

He turns on the computer and some have two. Quite a few have two monitors. Inadvertently, everyone opens their personal mails. The argument is that, there might be some technological inputs from friends that could be directly used for the benefit of the organization. He reads the endless mails, the forwards, the quizzes, and even stuff that says, “Size does matter” or “1mp1ants @ny0ne?”

Then he opens the office mails and assumes the work clock has started already. He reads the endless forwards and forwards a few to the rest of the office colleagues. Some nice lady who got the forward gives a call and says “you are very funny”. Without a batting an eyelid, he says “thank you” and takes credit for some joke that has been on the internet for years.

Now, he opens up Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Enterprise Manager (SQL Server). These are just development interfaces that give the impression that someone is seriously at work. A page with lots of typing is opened up on the screen to depict code. Depeche Mode, a music CD, is popped in. Actually the music is supposed to zone in the fellow for some concentrated development effort.

Now, he opens up small windows of the Internet Explorer or Firefox (in the case of some one I know). Some read their favorite blogs, some write their blogs and some evaluate how well their friend’s blog is doing. Invariably, everyone has mastered the art of peripheral vision. He can sense the heavy footing of their boss or the muffled wheeze of that painfully complaining user. And he does, the high speed “minimize” routine and scrolls down the code.

Then, he checks all the gizmos that are on sale on all the popular websites, do a comparison and call friends who bought something at regular price, just to give them post-purchase dissonance.

Some seasoned software engineers, closely monitor their stocks through the e-trade websites. Some download the market ticker. And they have developed this OCD to visually manipulate the stock market sitting in front their work computer. If you see those kinds banging their desks, it is not work stress, it is just that their stock dropped and they lost a few 100 dollars. May the force be with them!

By now, its 5 minutes to lunch time. At that moment, guilt strikes the hardly working software engineer. So to satisfy his urge to work, he queries an existing table. Lord God, forgive them for they know not what they are doing. For no reason, he looks at the data and scrolls down. The lunch buddies are ready to go out for lunch. At that moment, two screens full of code are opened and they fill the monitors to give an impression that someone has been busy working.

The half-hour lunches take 90minutes.

The post-lunch is slow, and usually there are some siesta meetings. Everyone is sleepy, all systems on hibernate. You get the idea. The software engineer realizes that his credit card was charged twice by the electric company. He places a call to the electric company. He fights the fight with the customer service representative.

Suddenly, he realizes to check the gas prices. He has a site that gives him the lowest gas price in the area and sends out a “feel good” public service email to the rest of his colleagues about the prevailing rates. That kicks off a water-cooler conversation.

Now, it’s time to do the walk-to-the-rest-room routine. To show how busy he is, he carries two printed sheets of paper and a pencil. He knows pencil has a better effect than a pen.  He refreshes, he is back.

Now, he goes to his boss’ office to ask three questions for which, he knows the answers already. This is a major move to indicate to his boss that he has been working.

Once he is back, he sends out an Evite for a party at his place. He spends half an hour to select the theme. By the time he is finished with the Evite, all the early arrivers (7:30 to 4:00 people) are saying “Bye now..have a good evening”. He makes it a point to say a loud “You too..See ya tomorrow!” to reiterate that he is staying back late at work.

Now he is ready to leave. He calls his wife to ask her what she needs to be bought from the store. After making a long list, he shuts down the system. He makes sure that the system ends with “Dun..dun..dun” music.

With a priceless look of being very tired, walks into the elevator and looks at the person who is riding with him and says with a sigh “Long day.. phew”.

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3 Responses to “Productivity of a Software Engineer”

  1. Nia May 25, 2007 at 8:00 pm #

    This was funny. A nice break as I breeze through the titles in my reader and star those that I will read and/or share later today. I presume the writer is a software engineer and of course such a scenario has happened to the best of us no matter our title.

  2. Pedro May 27, 2007 at 3:29 am #

    Ofcourse Nia. It’s from someone who has learnt the ropes.

  3. K-IntheHouse May 30, 2007 at 12:33 am #

    Great narration Pedro.. although somebody who has been following to this word thinking it’s their own little secret isn’t going to very happy.

    Nia.. you are right about this being not limited to software professionals even though internet habits might not be the same as a software engineer. 🙂