On Monday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the bewildering fall of J.C. Penney, a \$17-jean store named after a small denomination of legal tender that tried to rebrand itself as a fancy boutique by refusing to put items "on sale."

But before the rebranding shook up corporate structure, mostly what employees did was watch cat videos:

During January 2012, the 4,800 employees in Plano had watched five million YouTube videos during work hours, said Michael Kramer, a former Apple executive brought in by Mr. Johnson as chief operating officer.

Let's break this down.

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5,000,000 videos total ÷ 4,800 employees ≈ 1042 videos per employee (per month)

This means that, on average, every single J. C. Penney employee was watching over one thousand videos per month. It is also possible that one J.C. Penney employee was watching five million videos per month.

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1,042 videos per month ÷ 21 workdays ≈ 49 videos per day.

49 videos per day ÷ 8 hours in the average work day ≈ 6 videos (per hour)

This means that, on average, every 10 minutes an employee of J.C. Penney would drop what he or she was doing to watch a video on YouTube. This employee would, say, write an email, then stop writing the email, then watch a YouTube video. After that, the employee would finish writing the email, go to the bathroom, then come back and watch a YouTube video. The employee would download a PDF of sales figures, refresh his or her email, read the first two pages of the PDF, and then watch a YouTube video.

Hour after hour would zoom by in a blur of "Let me get started on this project," and YouTube videos.

"I don't know where the time goes," the employee would think, 5 minutes after watching a YouTube video. Then, five minutes later, the employee would watch a YouTube video.

In 2010, an analysis of 2.5 million YouTube videos (half as many videos as were watched in the J. C. Penney headquarters), found that the average length of a YouTube video was 4 minutes and 12 seconds. Now, revise the calculations.

An employee clocks in at 9:00 a.m. and, ten minutes later, takes his first YouTube break of the day. After watching a 4 minute video, he gets back to work. The time is now 9:14. At 9:20, it's time for another YouTube break. The employee continues to work in 6 minute spurts until close.

Amazingly, Penney's employees' marathon viewings of "Sneezing Baby Panda," did not impact profits nearly as much as the store's insane attempts at rebranding.

[Wall Street Journal // Image via Shutterstock]