Around 2 years ago I started a role that had previously been done by the same employee for 10 years. The company was sad to see the employee retire, but happy he could pass his knowledge to me, as the role is vital to our ability to make a profit.
Since taking over, I have slowly automated large parts of my role while increasing my productivity by all measures. It's a service role, with a defined set of tasks I do "on demand" for around 150 other staff out of a larger subset of our company. There are similar employees that look after these task for the people I don't look after, and similar tasks that are done by other colleagues.
The problem I face is that while the automation has allowed me to be around 3x as productive as the person I replaced (measured by tasks per month and profit per month), it means that I am only busy (at most) 10 minutes out of every hour. In some ways, this is great for the company:
- No one waits for things to be done
- My time-target for completing each task is 4 hours, I'm doing it in under 10 minutes.
- I have time to advise when needed to improve people's requests
- I am free to informally advise on areas outside of my role where I can be helpful
In other ways, it's terrible for them and me:
- I never look busy, which is bad for people's impression of me.
- I have very little motivation after 2 years of doing nothing
- My boss struggles to help or understand me
- I have literally 7+ hours a day when I could be far more useful
- I know I could, at any minute, be forced to explain how to use my automation tool, and be replaced by someone cheaper.
Along a similar vein to the poster here I initially struggled with whether to stay or leave, and took a number of steps:
- The managers are struggling to find more work to me. I've taken on extra responsibilities, but none keep me busy.
- The colleagues who also use automaton tools don't want to use mine, or to let me take work off their plates when I offer them. Most have confessed they don't want to end up like me.
- Work from colleagues I can help died down after a while.
- I've tried moving both elsewhere in the business and externally. The first couple of internal interviews I didn't realise I had a reputation. The second couple I discussed openly with the interviewer the milestones I'd passed and the achievements I'd made to become less busy. In the most recent interview I also prepared a number of ways in which I could automate the administrative burden of the role to be able to use my knowledge and training to deliver more of what would be core to the role. All of the interviewers were very pleasant, the most recent even more so than usual, but all pointed out that my current workload wouldn't look good in my new team. It seems that I have accidentally black-listed myself.
- Expanding my role tramples on the toes of other staff, although only slightly. While the company is currently stretched in those areas, the toes that were to be trampled complained very loudly, and training/expansion was quashed.
Around a year ago, I started reading kindle books between tasks. It was better than staring into space. Around six months ago, I could no longer afford to buy 2-3 books a week, and so went on youtube. After 3 months of more or less back-to back TED Talks I moved away from anything that could be considered professional or educational. I've tried since then to keep to things that at least "look" like work.
I guess I'm struggling with next steps. I also am struggling to come in every day; I have a lot to do at home, and a new kid that I'd love to be spending time with. In an ideal world, I'd be able to work from home, keep my performance high, but spend the time I'm not working playing with him. My normal work doesn't technically need me to be here, but most of my "extra" work seems to come from me being here. I doubt my boss would consider it, but how would I even ask?
If we assume that I'm not going to get approval to work formally on demand, does anyone have any suggestions, either for my next interview, or for how to get more work in the first place?