NEW YORK (Reuters) - Never mind the recession. Workers can still find ways to do less and get away with it, says the author of a tongue-in-cheek look at the workplace, "How to Relax Without Getting the Axe."
The secret is learning and adapting the tricks of powerful, successful people, said Stanley Bing, whose book, subtitled "A Survival Guide to the New Workplace," comes out on November 17.
The new book is an updated version of Bing's earlier book "Executricks, or How to Retire While You're Still Working," tailored to meet today's hard economic times, he said.
"It's a perilous workplace environment but, that said, it should be possible to learn from the way that successful people manage their time and manage their careers," he told Reuters in an interview.
"It is a handbook for people who haven't yet attained what they would consider powerful status, to be able to use some of the same tricks that their bosses do and make it work."
Bing is actually a pseudonym for Gil Schwartz, who is executive vice president of corporate communications for CBS Corp. He began using the name Stanley Bing several years ago when he was writing a column for Esquire magazine.
He and his book are loaded with strategic tips such as how to delegate, which he says is "at the heart of all power," how to identify a remote problem to justify an expense-paid business trip and how to create the illusion of an office door for privacy, even in an open workplace of cubicles.
For a "virtual" door, he suggests, turn the computer screen away from other people, personalize the work space to make it uncongenial to visitors and cultivate "patterns of unfriendliness."
"It also marks you as somewhat antisocial and difficult to deal with, i.e. executive," he writes in the book, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Of utmost importance is the art of being absent to build status, a trick made all the easier with the abundance of e-mail, cellphones and other technology, he said. While once presence was necessary, it has become almost suspect, he said.
People can be in their offices too much, prompting others to wonder, "Why are they here all the time?" he said.
Being absent helps create the sense of being too important to be around and available, he said.
"A lot of people don't respect people they can reach too easily," Bing said. "You're immediately aggrandized by the fact that you are essentially a virtual person."
Also critical is having an assistant or failing that, appropriating someone else's assistant.
"You use other people. This is what successful people do in all business, in all walks of life," Bing said.
In essence, the tricks are timeless ways for anyone to gain control over their job, their time and their life, he said.
"The lack of control is what makes people unhappy, and supreme control is what signifies powerful, successful people," he said. "In between is the regular day that we all have."
Editing by Michelle Nichols and Doina Chiacu