Why Your Business Should Look Nothing Like Dunder Mifflin

“Dunder Mifflin was a disaster as a business,” writes Neil Irwin of the Washington Post. Why?

  • For a small firm that sells relatively expensive product, they employee way too many useless workers. (Three accountants, for example.)
  • Headquarters are in midtown Manhattan, one of the most expensive places on earth to rent office space.
  • Dunder Mifflin prides itself on service, but intensive service for a low-tech industry like paper production is more likely to annoy than illuminate.

This is of course a TV show. It’s with this in mind that another Post writer, Hank Stuever, highlights the most truly unrealistic aspect of the work environment depicted.

All had full-time work in this mythical paper supplier as employees rather than contractors; that they came in at 9 and left at 5, collecting a salary and benefits; that they were never downsized, right-sized or otherwise laid off; and that they toiled in relative peace for nine years and counting.

It’s for a different, though not completely unrelated reason, that I could never stand the show, which ended its nine-year-run yesterday. As Salon‘s Willa Paskin put it, “It was about how settling for a mediocre job for way too long can bring you happiness beyond measure.” It reminded us, in other words, about how lame the American Dream of stable work and stable home can be, taken to its suburban extreme.