Leave Me Alone, and I Will Be Your Most Productive Employee

But poke, harass, and otherwise annoy me? Then, we are going to have a problem.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD


Photo courtesy of author

“I’m heading out for a run to clear my mind.”

Physical exercise has become essential for me to survive in the modern workplace. I am 54 years old and have never felt better. I am in much better shape than I was, let’s say, twenty years ago. I run more than two marathon distances every week.

Crucially, running helps to avoid mental exhaustion and burnout. It preserves my sanity in an increasingly insane world. It cleanses my soul and lets me shed the accumulated nonsense of everyday life.

But this is not a piece about the virtues of exercise. It’s about the “accumulated nonsense” that drives me to run further and faster.

Quality Street

One of my biggest sources of frustration is the massive growth in systems that tell me how to do my job properly.

I’m talking about quality control systems, quality control audits, and quality control committees.

In today’s workplace, trust is no longer the foundation of relationships. Instead, processes, procedures, and committees have taken over as the driving forces behind decision-making and action-taking.

This is wrong — very wrong.

The situation has become dire and has devastating consequences. Not least for my mental well-being. Hence, the running.

But when did life become a series of ongoing struggles with systems and procedures whose sole purpose seems to stop me from doing my job?

Greek Tragedy or English Farce?

It is early September, and the campus is buzzing with excitement as the new students embark on a fresh adventure. The start of a new semester brings a sense of energy and pressure. As always, I spent my summer updating my courses, but it was more than just a routine update this time.

We are facing an unprecedented increase in complexity arising from various factors such as technology, society, governments, alternative business models, global changes, new risks, opportunities, shifts in…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.