What is „Fake Work“? Explanation, meaning, definition

The term „fake work“ is ubiquitous in our modern working world and means something like false or unproductive work. This is in absolute contrast to the efficiency-loving performance society. Constant availability and permanent further developments in the modern working world ensure in many places that people are busy virtually around the clock. Work is therefore often done after hours. But how productive are these ways of seeing and working really?

„Fake Work“ is therefore part of a wide range of critical perspectives on modern work concepts that take a closer look at the value of modern work. Fake work“ may look like real work, but it does not produce any results.

The following article will therefore deal with the topic of „fake work“ and a comprehensive definition of the term. At the same time, various causes, characteristics and procedures will be pointed out that can be used to avoid „fake work“.

What is „Fake Work“? Explanation, meaning, definition

The term „fake work“ comes from the English language and is composed of the adjective „fake“ and the noun „work“. In context, this means something like „false“ or „unproductive“ as well as „faked work“. Someone who engages in „fake work“ therefore does not create any value or even only pretends to work.

The label „fake work“ is used in many places today to describe activities that look like work but are not real work. This can mean, among other things, consulting or management activities. Control or accounting activities also fall remotely under „fake work“ – at least in the eyes of critics.

The origins of the term „fake work“ are not exactly clear, but probably go back to the beginning of the 2000s or 2010s, when service jobs began to emerge. At the same time, more and more administrative jobs were labelled „fake work“, as they seemed to have no raison d’être in many places.

What are the causes of „fake work“?

The causes of „fake work“ can be of various kinds. Often they are involuntary, but in many cases they are arbitrary. Among the involuntary factors is the ongoing technological progress. The more arbitrary factors include modern management structures, unclear objectives and micromanagement. In the following subsections, the main causes of „fake work“ will be examined in more detail.

Technological progress

Technological progress, which the world of work is currently undergoing, is one of the main causes for the occurrence of „fake work“. Technological progress has led to information overload and frequent distractions at the workplace. At the same time, constant accessibility ensures that everyone can work at any time and therefore often falls into unproductive work patterns. Ineffective and excessive use of modern information and communication technologies such as email or WhatsApp as well as social media can also contribute to a perception of work that is different from its actual productivity. Thus, employees almost inevitably spend more and more time on irrelevant and non-value-adding activities (also called „fake work“).

Management structures

Management structures can also contribute to an increase in „fake work“. Ineffective processes, insignificant tasks as well as overly flooded hierarchical structures and an overly extended reporting system can lead to more and more „fake work“ being on the agenda. Further, this can tempt staff to look busy rather than actually being so. „Fake work therefore often stands and falls with prevailing management structures and therefore often occurs in larger companies and corporations.

Unclear objectives and priorities

As soon as employees do not know exactly what their individual objectives at work are, they also often fall into unproductive work patterns. Instead of tackling the actual work, it is often bypassed by secondary activities or distractions. Supervisors should therefore be sure to create clear objectives and set the right priorities so that employees do not automatically fall into „fake work“. Also, an excessive focus on quantity rather than quality can lead to unproductive ways of working becoming entrenched.


However, if employees are permanently supervised and supervisors have too much influence on the respective work arrangements, there is also a risk of encouraging „fake work“. The same can happen if employees feel that their work results are not valued enough or not valued at all. This quickly leads to a culture of mistrust among employees. In this culture, self-promotion and self-justification are more important than actually doing productive and innovative work.

What are the effects of „fake work“?

„Fake work can have fatal consequences in small, medium and large companies. In addition to affecting the well-being of all employees, „fake work“ often causes the following effects:

  • Less productivity and efficiency
  • Lack of creativity and reduced ability to innovate
  • Stress, boreout and burnout at work
  • Higher turnover rates in companies
  • Significantly poorer work results and lower quality of products and services
    Project delays
  • The respective company image suffers greatly
  • Weaker competitiveness vis-à-vis competing companies

How can „fake work“ be avoided?

In order to avoid „fake work“ to a large extent, it is important that superiors create clear goals as well as priorities for their subordinates. An open work culture should also be established in which inefficiencies can be quickly brought to light and eliminated. Employees‘ work should also be regularly appreciated. Because „fake work“ can only be perceived as such on an individual basis. Often, this work actually adds value to the respective company, but is only perceived as pointless by the employee. New technologies and automation can also be used to minimise or even eliminate a wide variety of time wasters at work.

Conclusion on the topic of „fake work

In summary, it can be said that „fake work“ is more or less a serious problem in the modern world of work. The mere individual suspicion of „fake work“ at the workplace can have a strong negative impact on the working atmosphere, the will to perform and thus ultimately on the success of a company. „Fake work must therefore be avoided at all costs through the measures mentioned above.

The terms „busy work“ and „work overload“ are related to the term „fake work“. While „busy work“ refers to pointless, repetitive and largely unnecessary tasks (and is thus very close to „fake work“), „work overload“ is a concrete overload caused by too much meaningful or pointless work.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge. Mehr über BedeutungOnline.de und mich erfährst du hier.

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