Engineering July 2017

A programmer figured out how to automate his job and work 2 hours a week — but he’s not sure it’s ethical

What is your job? Is your job simply to do what is asked of you by your boss? As a young engineer, I was able to keep myself occupied at a 30% level with projects assigned to me by my boss. I used automation, coding skills, etc that my boss didn’t understand and was able to appear amazingly productive. So what did I do with the remaining 70% of my time on the job? Frankly I looked for things that needed to get done. I got myself attached to a lot of different but interesting projects. I solved problems that people knew about and others that nobody knew about. I even wrote a piece of code for a robot that nobody even understood needed coding.

I contrast my experience with the experience in this article.

Frankly, I don’t understand the questions in this article because I don’t understand the actions and the mentality. If you are looking to minimize your time on the job, if you are looking to “check the box” with your boss, I can assure you, at least in the places I worked, not only would you NOT get ahead, you would likely not be working there very long. In my day, engineers were not supposed to think as hourly employees, but rather as managers or better yet as part owners of the business. If this were your business, what would you do? That kind of ownership mentality, that sense of commitment is what employers typically desire.

Is it ethical to do what is described in this article? The answer for you will likely determine your career trajectory.

About the author

Mark Werwath

1 Comment

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  • At least the engineer is ‘trying’ to stay engage and support the organization by looking for things to do and stay busy. His boss appears to me as the one who needs to wake up and utilize the skills and offerings of the engineer to better the organization.

    Your comment as to “engineers were not supposed to think as hourly employees” is right on the money. My experience is that while that was once true attitudes started changing to an hourly mentality in the mid to late-00’s and is a reflection on age cohorts.


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