Peter’s Gig in ‘Office Space’ Is Unironically An Amazing Job for 2024

If a missing cover sheet is the worst of your woes at work, then you’re doing a lot better than most of us right now
Peter’s Gig in ‘Office Space’ Is Unironically An Amazing Job for 2024

Despite all the cases of the Mondays and crappy copiers that he suffered, a quarter of a century later, it’s time to admit that we’d all be so lucky to be Peter Gibbons.

In 1999, Mike Judge released one of his many masterworks satirizing the doldrums of life in middle-class America. Released just a year before the dot-com bubble burst, Office Space told the story of a software engineer racked with malaise while he goes through the motions at a hilariously un-exaggerated bureaucracy of a business, the dreaded Initech. 

In his job, Peter is responsible for updating bank software to prepare for Y2K and submitting TPS reports with cover sheets. And, apparently, the demands of Peter’s position are so severe and excruciating that, 25 years later, so much of America’s white collar workforce still treats Office Space like it’s some kind of corporate Dante’s Inferno.

However, in an era of gig economies, hostile corporate consolidation and the advancement of “productivity tools” that leaves so many desk workers saddled with so many extra responsibilities that they’d need an entire work day just to say what they do here, Peter’s profession, with its 15 minutes of actual work each week, full benefits and stock options, is the holy grail of the kind of do-nothing email job that young people desperately desire. 

Forget two chicks at the same time — if I had a million dollars, I’d still put in my 15 minutes each week to squeeze a few more easy bucks out of Initech, cover sheets and all.

Seriously, let’s look at everything at Initech that’s supposed to be so torturous and soul destroying — first, the drab, gray cubicles. In a pre-9/11 era, cubicles were widely considered to be the worst degree of suffering a desk worker could endure as the dividers boxed them in and destroyed their individuality. Due to the cubicle’s negative reputation, thanks, in part, to movies like Office Space, the more trendy companies of the 2000s and 2010s moved away from the much-maligned office layout in favor of an “open concept” design that eradicated every employee’s sense of privacy and all protection from distractions just so that someone from the accounting department could make awkward, accidental eye contact with a sales rep from 50 feet away.

Despite the current popularity of the open-concept office, many studies have suggested that they actually lead to decreased productivity when compared to the more focused cubicle system. Honestly, the only downside of Initech’s cubicle jungle from a modern perspective is that it would be less photogenic in the “about us” section of its website’s recruitment page.

Then, there’s the work itself. As Peter openly admits to the Bobs, he only puts in a combined 15 minutes of actual work in any given week, which, though it leads him to become an underchallenged and unmotivated employee, would be an absolute godsend for anyone in a position to work remotely. Judging by the Bobs’ enthusiasm for Peter’s slacker workflow and their eagerness to toss added perks like stock options at such a straight-shooting underachiever, a hybrid schedule would probably be a preposterously easy sell for the unrealistically generous corporate raiders.

I mean, Peter could log on from the fishing hole four days a week with a laptop and a hotspot, and he wouldn’t fall behind on his deliverables. Who cares if he has to work a couple Saturdays when all he needs to do is keep his status on Microsoft Teams as “online” while he spends all weekend with Jennifer Aniston?

Speaking of that dreaded weekend work that Lumbergh always assigned to Peter, at least Peter was a salaried employee with benefits and a reliable schedule. Today, so many mega-companies trap their workforce either in the dreaded “independent contractor” position that theoretically gives workers flexibility, but, in practice, just means that the laborers doing the dirty work necessary to keep the company afloat can’t count on a steady paycheck, a consistent schedule or the most basic of benefits. 

On top of that, many more companies give their workers a barely light enough schedule so that they’re a hair under 130 hours worked in a month, meaning that those folks are legally classified as part-time employees and aren’t entitled to the benefits and protections that come with being full-time. Even with such schedule fuckery, though, those unlucky employees are often forced to work unpaid and illegal overtime. Right now, companies are screwing employees out of the wages they’re legally owed for the real hours they work to the tune of $50 billion per year with almost zero repercussions.

However, over at Initech, they’ll continue to send a guy a paycheck for five years after he’s been laid off. But, no, Milton didn’t get a slice of cake and someone took his stapler, so those hilarious injustices definitely outweigh the fact that he could have spent the last half-decade in Cancun while still getting paid.

Realistically, in an age of quiet quitting and email jobs, every slacker in the country with a comp-sci degree would be sending in a resume in hopes of securing a gig at Initech. Peter’s life may have been the epitome of mundanity, but it came with the kind of comfort and security that so many corporations no longer believe they owe their workers. 

Office Space is supposed to be a cautionary tale about how boring white-collar work can be, but boredom is far superior to delivering food for DoorDash while living on food stamps or working in an Amazon warehouse for pennies with zero benefits (and urinating into Gatorade bottles).

At the bare minimum, Initech was a hell of a lot better workplace than Chotchkies — 1999 or 2024, that place would make anyone want to express themselves.


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