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I've automated most of the jobs I have to do everyday and left some just to kill the time between 9-5, technically it wouldn't be hard to automate everything (create some .bat's, code some macro's or create some simple apps). Should I automate all my jobs? Would that make me a bad worker who's lazy (I kind of am) and didn't want to do it manually (I really don't) or a good worker who has a more efficient way to complete these tasks?

marked as duplicate by scaaahu, Masked Man, gnat, Lilienthal, nvoigt Oct 28 '16 at 12:00

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    Laziness is one of the virtues of a good programmer. It's one of your strengths, not a weakness. – simbabque Oct 28 '16 at 7:37
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    It is funny how the duplicate autocomment has 11 upvotes but the question is not closed. – Mindwin Oct 28 '16 at 10:45
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You are a good worker who has a more efficient way to complete his tasks -- but only if your employer reaps the benefits of your efficiency.

Probably the best way to make that happen is for you to take on more tasks. Talk to your employer and request more work. Point out your automation methods, and ask him to particularly assign mindless repetitive jobs that you can also automate.

Don't forget, even when your tasks are automated, you're still responsible for them, so allow time and attention to monitor the automated processes. Eventually all your effort should be consumed in checking the correctness of your processes and results, and troubleshooting the occasional failure.

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    +1 especially for last paragraph. The real world often surprises us with more requirements than one could predict during automation. – Kos Oct 28 '16 at 8:26
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    I disagree that you're only a good worker if your employer gets additional benefits (e.g. by taking on more tasks). Someone who does the job they are paid for is a good worker, IMO, even if they don't actually need to work very hard. But in that case, I think the person managing them is not a very good manager. – Guy G Oct 28 '16 at 9:20
  • Please be careful that often (too often) people spend so much time on creating an automation (e.g. code and debug a bat file) that they could have completed twice the tasks manually. It's common among developers. Be always sure that the time you spend automating your tasks indeed brings a measurable advantage and saving to your company, not only to our laziness – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Oct 28 '16 at 10:35
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    @GuyG, employers nearly universally expect "good workers" to put in X hours per week, even if they finish assigned tasks much more quickly than that. And they are almost never ok with an employee just sitting there after they finish the agreed work. If you want to be considered a "good worker" simply for delivering a result for an agreed price, irrespective of time/effort put in, you need to be a contractor. – user45590 Oct 28 '16 at 11:17
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    Why would he be a good worker "only if his employer gets the benefit of his efficiency - for instance by the OP taking on more tasks"? He's a good worker if he provides the job his boss asks him in exchange for the pay his boss agreed to give. End of story. If the OP figures out a way of doing that in 10 times less time, that's his problem/opportunity. If the employer is not happy with that, he can go automate those tasks by himself. Your comment implies that the OP would be an associate (therefore the company's interests being aligned with his interests), not an employee. – Jivan Oct 28 '16 at 11:54
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There is nothing to worry. Approach your boss and show him how your ingenuity has helped the company. Show them that while you can make mistakes when performing mundane/routine tasks, the scripts/automation software will not. This may have already saved your company some money. But also show them that you keeping on monitoring and improving robustness of the automated processes is very important.

If I were the manager, rather than laying you off, I will see if you can automate at least parts of other employees' jobs, and then try to take advantage of the new excess time to do productive and more complex/analytical work that could not be automated. In any case, offer your manager to automate some other mundane/routine processes. For example, I created a small program to do some analytics on the reported bugs for our software product, which created an Excel document with some nice charts. This was praised a lot and very quickly there were more requests of similar requirements.

  • -1. Pie charts are a monstrosity only suitable for demonstrating why pie charts are unsuitable for any actual data presentation. – user53718 Oct 28 '16 at 11:12
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    @Nij: Did you really just downvoted because the post contained the word 'pie chart'? :D – sampathsris Oct 28 '16 at 11:13
  • Yes. I retracted the downvote because the answer is kind of useful besides that... – user53718 Oct 28 '16 at 11:16
  • @Nij: You see, presentation method is important. But what I showed was something like this: What is the portion of resources assigned to each product area vs what is the portion of bugs that are reported to each product area; using two pie charts - side by side. Now this was a question nobody had thought about (which was surprising), and it immediately showed that we are not assigning enough resources to certain areas. It was praised not because pie charts, but because I looked at my workplace in a different way, which was useful. – sampathsris Oct 28 '16 at 11:24
  • For comparing two proportions like that, you should use a grouped bar chart on area by percentage, so that comparative perspective is assisted. Humans are really really bad at judging the size of a sector! Unless they're stacked together - in which case, grouped bar charts are your best/only friend. I don't much care what data you were presenting or why it was being presented, I just point out that there is always an option which is better than a pie chart in every way. – user53718 Oct 28 '16 at 11:34
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Two possibilities.

If you're an employee, figuring out a way to do your work 10 times faster is your problem. Your employer has hired you for a task in exchange for a salary. If the task is done, you deserve the salary. End of story.

Why? Because the crazy amount of studies you put yourself into, and which today allows you to be that performant, doesn't belong to your employer. It belongs to you. So if your employer wants you to get more done, he has to pay more. Automation is not work you did today, it's work you did years before and which enables you to be over-performing today.

If you're an associate, then the company's interests are aligned with your interests. Then you should act accordingly.

The fact that your employer gives you a salary and no capital in exchange for your work proves that your interests are not aligned with the company's interests.

If your employer is not happy with that, he can either:

  1. Automate those tasks by himself
  2. Find some slave (other than you)
  3. Invite you to be an associate

My main point is: nowadays a lot of people (especially here on the Workplace - see the current most upvoted answer) tend to confuse being an employee and being an associate. Employers take advantage of this confusion. Don't fall into that trap.

Forget the BS about "team spirit", "we're in the same boat", etc. This is just marketing (directed towards employees). If your employer wants you in his boat, he has to make you an associate.

Employee: you're paid for a task. The company's interests are not your interests. Once the task is done, you're done. The amount of time you put into it doesn't count.

Associate: the company's interests are your interests. Act accordingly.

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Ask your boss to work remotely then perform better than usual, he'll think you have a better work environnement at home and let you do it everytime you want. Then automate everything you left and use your time to do what you want (travel, play with your kids, etc.) Don't forget to check e-mails and you're good to go.

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    Bad advice IMO. Lying is almost always a bad strategy for your career. – sampathsris Oct 28 '16 at 11:16

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