On the Clock by Emily Guendelsberger

On the Clock

The bitingly funny, eye-opening story of a college-educated young professional who finds work in the automated and time-starved world of hourly laborAfter the local newspaper where she worked as a reporter closed, Emily Guendelsberger took a pre-Christmas job at an Amazon fulfillment center outside Louisville, Kentucky. There, the vending machines were stocked with painkillers, and the staff turnover was dizzying. In the new year, she travelled t...

Details On the Clock

TitleOn the Clock
Release DateJul 16th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Economics, Politics, Business, Sociology, Social Issues

Reviews On the Clock

  • Donna Hines
    As a former factory worker; salaried $7.25 min wage; 10 cent raises; as top producer in two departments as a merchandise processor with a $25 one time bonus for associate of the month I know all too well about the American Dream falling to the waste side.For many years I've been told work harder, success comes to those who work for it, nothing is handed to you.That ideal is what propelled me to keep working hard even after getting hit on the head...
  • Kate ☀️ Olson
    (free review copy) You'll want to sit down for this. No really. Go get a cup of coffee and settle in, because I have a LOT of thoughts. To start with, here's my rating math for this one:Subject matter: 5My actual fondness for the writer: 2Ability to hold my interest: 5Academic content to back up assertions: 4Word choice: 1Math says my overall rating is 3.4 and I DO recommend this book.Subject matter: Since I first read Nickel and Dimed WAY back w...
  • Samantha Melamed
    An essential update to Nickel and Dimed, On The Clock turns the drudgery of work in 21st century America into a compelling and elucidating narrative that should be required reading for policy makers, business leaders and anyone else who hasn’t held a low-wage job in the past decade. This book documents the daily realities of those jobs, examines the economic climate that fosters them, chronicles the creepy history of workplace productivity sche...
  • Suzanne
    This is a very good book. (Look at me being a professional reviewer, lol) My actual review goes up on Shelf Awareness right around pub date, but here are my informal thoughts:On the Clock both infuriated and entertained me. Guendelsberger is a journalist, which means she cites lots of sources and provides a long list of supplemental reading should you wish to do a deep dive. BUT she's also funny as hell, having written for places like The Onion. ...
  • Cheryl
    A sobering look at three industries that use low skill workers - Amazon warehouses, McDonalds, and a call center for several national accounts. All of these companies use contractors so that they don’t have to provide any benefits. All used sophisticated software models to control every minute that employees were in the building. Being one minute late, or taking an extra minute in the bathroom, or talking to other employees was stealing from th...
  • Molly Seavy-Nesper
    I devoured this book. Guendelsberger takes you inside an Amazon warehouse, a call center, and a San Fransisco McDonald's and exposes the ways in which technology is making workers' lives miserable. The book is funny, heartbreaking and enlightening. You'll think twice about ordering random junk on Amazon -- and it will encourage you to practice radical empathy when talking to a customer service rep, or the fast food workers giving you your fries. ...
  • Kali
    This review is going to be long as I organize my thoughts. Feel free to not read it— but I think you should read this book 👍❤This book tackles the invisible. The working poor in this country that are often called lazy, stupid and unambitious while they work their a**es of every day just to barely survive.What politicians refer to as “flipping burgers” has turned into a well-oiled money making machine understaffing, timing their employe...
  • Michelle
    On the Clock is a compelling, eye-opening, and necessary read for all Americans. Emily Guendelsberger gives us an up-close look at what it means to work the daily grind of low-wage work. Businesses boast that productivity is at an all-time high, ...but at what cost? Apparently, the heart and soul of the country.Guendelsberger does such a great job taking us through the three jobs that she took (as a journalist undercover), each for about a month ...
  • Rajiv
    On the Clock is must read, this book is equal parts funny and heartbreaking with an eye opening look at how efficiency in business impacts the mental health of regular people (and the psychological and evolutionary perspective of what that means) who are happy to just have their jobs.If you don't work in the service industry (like McDonald's, a call center or an Amazon warehouse like Guendelsberger did) you know that their jobs are tough, but I d...
  • Meagan Houle
    I've read many articles about how Amazon exploits its warehouse staff, and I know enough people who've done call centre and food service work to understand it's a jungle, and not in a remotely fun way. Even with that prior experience, nothing prepared me for Emily's vivid account of her time at Amazon, Convergys, and McDonald's. I felt embarrassingly naive as she described the intrusive ways companies have found to survey and punish their lowest-...
  • Michaela
    ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. --- So, I'll have to come back & finish the review. In reading the reviews of others, however, I noted 2 things, First, people complaining about curse words in a book about stress & desperation. Are you fucking kidding me? Secondly, people are complaining about a lack of references, when the book is only JUST out, & even I read an ARC. Where are these people supposedly getting comp...
  • Jami
    Would recommend to people who like books like Nickel and Dimed, Educated, Maid, etc. The author is a journalist who, after being laid off from her newspaper, went to work at Amazon, Convergys (a call center that did tech support for AT&T, among other huge companies), and McDonalds. My mouth was a big O while reading--even though I knew before that these companies treat their workers terribly, seeing these details really made it salient. (Amazon h...
  • Radhika
    On the Clock is a must-read for anyone looking for an interesting, funny, fast-paced -- but most of all SMART look into low-wage work in the 21st century. Guendelsberger deftly weaves in the latest scholarship on labor and capitalism with an outsider's look into the sometimes mind-numbing, frequently painful and always non-stop nature of modern capitalism in the U.S. She has a keen eye for description and storytelling, and some many of her anecdo...
  • alli
    A book that should make you angry that the unrelenting desire for higher profits leads to treating labor as disposable. Guendelsberger's firsthand accounts of just a few mechanized jobs shines a light on to something everyone who works for a living will experience soon (if not already): a world where our individual autonomy at work is completely lost, and in return we'll get lower wages, fewer benefits, and no job protection.
  • Robin
    Listen up. Next time you need to talk to a customer rep to dispute a billing charge, inquire about a change in service, or just complain about a lack of good service, chances are you are chatting with someone in a call center who is not at all associated with the company you are doing business with. One of the important lessons I learned from this book is to never ever get mad at a customer rep again unless they are rude. OK, so now that's off my...
  • Emmaj
    Well written and engaging book.I agree that one problem is that "we've stopped even imagining other, better ways we could live" (p.311).Its just taken as a giving that the best thing a person can do is make as much money as humanly possible, and screw everyone else.But it looks crazier when you put a face to everyone else.About Amazon:"Q: Your warehouse workers work 11.5-hour shifts. In order to make rate, a significant number of them need to tak...
  • Katrina Feraco
    As someone who spent a lot of time in food service (two years in a chronically understaffed Dunkin Donuts in New England and four years in a hellscape Italian restaurant full of mismanagement and out-of-touch ownership, both for less than $9/hr and demanding more of my time than I could give), I have to give ENORMOUS props to Emily Guendelsberger for actually doing the work and writing honestly about her experiences. I appreciated the perspective...
  • Jeff Zell
    This book reminded me of Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. However, where Nickel and Dimed focused on the hardship of making a small income, Guendelsberger focuses on management practices of three large corporations: Amazon, Convergys, and McDonalds. Technology has improved the ability to monitor every word and place that a worker speaks or goes and how long it all takes. So, as she tells her story of being hired, being trained, and working in a ful...
  • Pamela
    Look, I haven't held down a job like the ones Emily describes in On The Clock. Sure, I've dealt with low wages, but not with near-impossible productivity standards and automated schedules. The working conditions that Emily describes unfold like a horror movie. And at the end, when she urges us—not just low-wage workers, but all of us—to believe that we deserve better from our workplace, I was moved to tears. As upsetting as this book can be, ...
  • Amanda Samuel
    An incredibly eye-opening, interesting, smart book that balances stories and lived experiences with context, research, and nuance . Emily is a brilliant, compelling, and funny writer. My only qualm is that I was looking forward to the end of the book solutions offered to make low-wage work more humane, and they were less concrete than I would have liked. Still highly recommend!
  • Joanne
    Wow! The author does a fabulous job telling you what it's really like working minimum wage jobs when you've got no other options. She did her research and knows how to present it in a fascinating way. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Caitlin
    Written with great empathy (and also great jokes), “On the Clock”’s vignettes of panoptic low-wage jobs are grounded in accessible histories of labor, cognitive science, and technocapitalism. Yes, it made me angry, but it also made me hopeful.
  • Hannah G
    On the Clock is both devastating and funny. While the book is well grounded in historical context and relevant data - setting out a thorough case for how, and why, the service industry in this country tends to deny the basic humanity of its workers - it is also a fascinating, poignant, and compelling read throughout.The openness and candid humor of the author's own first person perspective "on the ground" is key, but so are the vivid personalitie...
  • Maria Li
    Insightful and compelling. One of the best nonfiction books I’ve read in a while.
  • Donna Foster
    Clever undercover low wage worker is insightful, interesting and no holding back thoughts or feelings on harsh working conditions.
  • Allison Rosenberg
    Guendelsberger's book is an incredibly engaging read. I couldn't put it down. I'm usually a fiction reader and couldn't believe how interesting this book was. Guendelsberger weaves her experience at these jobs seamlessly with research on the history and psychology of work, building a compelling case for how these jobs harm workers. It was eye-opening for me, and helped me clarify some aspects of work/life that I see regularly too. Highly recommen...
  • Farrah Rah
    This is a wonderful book, and an important one. Take the wittiest, coolest, hippest girl from college and plop her in some really shitty jobs with a cast of opinionated, diverse, and feisty Americans who are all united in their desire to just live a good life. As Emily learns, the system just does not work in their favour. The stories that result from her experiences are as witty and spunky as, say, your most eloquent best friend’s hilarious 2a...
  • Rian Davis
    This book is about how technology is making low-wages jobs too stressful and has a really great story to tell that is marred by its imperfections. The book is at its best when it's a story of the workers who currently get by on minimum wage or slightly better. She writes that those who know what the phrase "in the weeds" really means are the ones whose lives are hardest. She divides the book into three parts: Amazon work at a warehouse in Louisvi...
  • Louis
    Emily Guendelsberger’s On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane is the story of the author’s undercover journey through various low-wage service jobs including: working at an Amazon warehouse, a call center, and an McDonald’s franchise. Each job presents its challenges: Amazon warehouses are incredibly physical demanding with difficult metrics, callers at the call center are often screaming at employees, a...