CALGARY, Alberta – A recent study conducted by the Calgary chapter of the Office Workers Behavioral Research Council has statistically proven what many oil and gas company executives have suspected and feared for years: 97% of downtown office staff take breaks that are 7 to 8 times longer than what executives expected.

The study cites an abundance of coffee shops and food courts scattered throughout Calgary’s downtown business district as the chief contributing factors to the problem. It also blames the proximity of many of the head offices to a number of shopping centres.

In 2019 year-to-date, this alarming statistic is behind lost productivity that has cost the oil and gas industry an estimated $3.7B. But this is going to change – effective immediately.

A consortium of PNG companies, lead by peopleMINUS Corporation, has defined a number of bylaws for its employees to follow, and also formed a task force charged with enforcing them.

“It is high time that rules be put in place to limit the time office staff spend on breaks, because this is costing our industry billions. We hear day in and day out how investors are very concerned with Loss Time Incidents, but what about the time lost to excessive breaks?! Whether an employee misses work due to falling down the stairs while texting or misses work thanks to a 2.5 hour lunch break, it’s all time they are not working! We have even heard a story of one guy who took a coffee break on his way back from a coffee break. This is unacceptable and it must stop.” – Diver Milfson, head of the consortium.

Task Force member in Sector 7G, surveilling a subject who just left on break.

According to a report released by the group, the following bylaws have been created and disseminated to all staff at all of the companies in the consortium, which amounts to roughly 90% of all of the downtown Calgary office workers. The bylaws are defined as follows:

  1. M22-13R: A coffee break must not exceed 15 minutes.
  2. H34-05Z: An employee may take a maximum of 2 coffee breaks per day. One between 09h30 and 10h30, and one between 14h00 and 13h00.
  3. F28-99A: A lunch break must not exceed 60 minutes.
  4. R89-33T: An employee may take a maximum of 1 lunch break per day, and it must fall between 11h30 and 13h30.
  5. Y33-87G: Lunch and/or coffee breaks can only be used on the current day. Under no circumstance may they be banked or carried over to another day.

Rick Hoolaschlop, a former exploitation engineer at Best West Exploration, who is now head of the enforcement task force, explains exactly how the bylaws are enforced.

Rick Hoolaschlop

“Well, you see… the Task Force comprises roughly 118 guards who are each equipped with photo and video surveillance equipment, a notebook, a flashlight, and a billy club. The members of my team will be strategically positioned near popular coffee shops, eateries and other meeting places. We use 2-way radios to communicate the locations and paths of the thousands of staff that frequent these target areas; we time them, and anybody not in accordance with the bylaws will be written up. It’s really that simple.”

The president of the consortium explained how repeat offenders will be fitted with RFID anklets that will automatically track and accumulate every minute that the subjects are in excess of the allowable break times. And for every minute over, $10 will automatically be deducted from the employee’s paycheque, all in an effort to try and recoup some of the costs of lost productivity.

Staff Senior geologist with peopleMINUS being escorted back to his office after a break that was too long.

“This new system has significantly impacted the revenue at my 2 downtown coffee shops, and I’m not happy about it!” remarked Brenda Laycock, owner of Come & Go Coffee Co.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here