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The Art Of Doing The Least Possible At The Workplace

 

By Amelia Gentleman

The Guardian - UK

 

Those who dedicate their professional lives to idleness should do so with discretion if they hope to keep their jobs.

 

This is one useful message in Hello Laziness - The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible at the Workplace, an anarchic anti-business bible published in France.

 

It is advice the author, Corinne Maier, a senior economist at Electricite de France, failed to follow. She faces a disciplinary hearing next month, accused of attempting to "rot the system from within".

 

The book, Bonjour Paresse (a nod to Francoise Sagan's 50s novel, Bonjour Tristesse or Hello Sadness), pledges to explain why it is in your interest to do the least work possible and will tell you how to damage the system from within "without appearing to do so".

 

An antidote to the recent rash of US-import, career-enhancing self-help books by business management gurus, it rails against corporate culture and preaches a philosophy of active disengagement.

 

It is an elegantly written call to arms to the "neo-slaves" of middle management and the "damned of the service industry", condemned to dress up as clowns all week and waste their lives in pointless meetings.

 

Maier cites the recent wave of financial scandals in French business, and argues that since careers are at risk and pensions under threat, employees should shake off their shackles of loyalty and start "footling around" during office hours.

 

Her publisher, Editions Michalon, said that the book did not target EDF, and its hyper-sensitive response only served to confirm the totalitarianism reigning in big business.

 

Maier, who works part-time, has been with EDF for 12 years. She said she wrote the book on her days off.

 

France's unions yesterday rallied to her cause, saying EDF was threatening free speech.

 

"They cited the pettiest offences in the letter summoning me to face a disciplinary review," Maier said. "The real reason is that they don't like my book."

 

EDF refused to comment on "an ongoing disciplinary procedure", but indicated it was angry at the book mentioning that Maier was an employee.

 

Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk