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Usually in a work setting that isn't an office, right at the coalface of an industry or profession, there will be an administration or executive branch which is a world away from the hardships of the "Real Work". As a result, people who work in Admin—managers, executives, and their retinue—will be out of touch with the workers and their problems and they won't understand how Admin decisions play out in the trenches. May or may not be expensively decorated while the "real" departments that do the work have to scrape by with spartan furnishings.

Truth in Television, obviously. Soldiers at the Rear is the military equivalent, dealing with soldiers who in the rear, who are far from the dangers on the front lines. Executive Meddling, when stigmatized, stems from similar issues — out-of-touch higher-ups making uninformed, money-grubbing decisions that make life harder for the working people on the ground.

Compare/contrast with Standard Office Setting.


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  • In the Loop, the film spin-off from The Thick of It (see below) continues the show's depiction of the British government as basically this to the whole of Britain. It's best illustrated through the contrast between the Minister of International Development foolishly involving himself in grand matters of world-shaking geopolitical intrigue while, back in his home constituency, one of his constituents just wants him to do something about the wall of his office, which is collapsing into his mum's back garden. This ends up screwing the Minister when his political opponents in the former matter use his complete disinterest in doing anything about the latter matter to bury him in the media.


  • In the novel Mindfogger, the protagonist worked in a factory that made automotive type batteries. While the "factory floor" was hot and noisy, the "front office" was quite nice and air conditioned. The "factory floor" was male and the "front office" had female lower end staff and male bosses (early 1970's USA). The "front office" also had a number of young high school and college girls who were daughters of the managers working there for the summer.
  • The Laundry Files has "Mahogany Row", the thickly-carpeted polished woodwork restricted access offices of The Laundry. In a subversion, no-one appears to actually work in these offices, causing the protagonist to wonder if they're actually meant for emergency crisis management when the stars are right and the shit hits the fan.
  • On Discworld, this role is filled in a cosmic sense by The Auditors, and they are not just comic relief. Filled with a burning hatred for the chaos of life and the way it upsets a nice, neat existence of spinning spheres in space, they repeatedly attempt to rid the universe of life in order to simplify their book-keeping. Ironically, it usually falls to Death and/or his descendants to thwart The Auditors and save all life on the Disc.

     Live Action TV  

  • In The IT Crowd, the protagonists work in a dingy, cluttered basement underneath one of the tallest and most stately skyscrapers in London, and go unappreciated by the vast majority of the staff. (Many a disgruntled IT professional will tell you this can be Truth in Television.) On the other hand, they seem to be the only department to be so treated, with the rest of the office being essentially a parody of impossibly glamorous TV workplaces.
  • The Thick of It essentially presents the British government as this to the rest of Britain; a bunch of cloistered, out-of-touch technocrats, policy wonks, media-management types, career politicos and assorted other nepotism-fueled weirdos who would be utterly unemployable elsewhere, working in a bunch of nice, expensive glass-walled offices who are almost all both scathingly contemptuous towards and simultaneously slightly afraid of the ordinary people they supposedly serve and represent.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Administratum is a Vast Bureaucracy on a galactic scale, and as you can imagine, attracts its share of incompetents, jobsworths and other drones. Planets are lost due to rounding errors, memos from departments that have been forgotten are still circulating, tithes are demanded from systems that no longer exist or were conquered millennia ago, and many positions are hereditary. In one case the workers were actively sabotaging troop deployments out of sheer tedium.

     Video Games  

  • In Dwarf Fortress the Dwarven Nobility tend to operate like this. Once installed in the luscious and expensive rooms that they demand to have, they will occasionally make other demands, such as "build 2 metal chairs" or "I want a glass window in my room". They will make demands even if the fort lacks the necessary resources to fulfill these demands, such as sand for making glass or coal for smelting metal. They can also order the guards to dispense justice should their demands be ignored. However, they will often order justice to be delivered upon dwarves who could not possibly do anything wrong, simply because it was not their job.This is why players are quite inventive in devising "accidental" ways to off nobles.
  • Similar to Dwarf Fortress, your nobles in Rimworld: Nobility will also make demands to have unreasonable plush luxuries — only instead of dispensing self-rightous justice upon random colonists, they will just have their overall mood greatly saddled due to expectations of comfort and luxury. And unlike Dwarf Fortress, these demands are in exchange for cool Psychic Powers, commercial trading privileges, and the ability to directly ask for help from the resident Imperial faction.
  • In Viscera Cleanup Detail the administration for the janitors never directly meets with them, instead sending memos detailing how they are receiving or losing privileges and pay due to their performance. A number of the documents they send are aggressive on some level, threatening termination for failing to complete a job or referring to any janitor who doesn't want to fill out reports as a "reprobate employee".
  • Space Station 13 subverts this trope. Yes, the Command/Administration section is mostly staffed by Obstructive Bureaucrats. However, most of said bureaucrats have universal or near-universal access. Therefore, things going really south often results in some pencil-pusher breaking into the armory and going full Rambo.