It’s just another day at the office that doesn’t exist

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

So, these days you work for yourself, by yourself, from home, whatever, but still – for reasons best known to yourself – miss being in an office environment. The politics. The policies. The procedures. The culture. The water cooler. The list goes on. Striking out on one’s own sure seems to have its drawbacks, doesn’t it?

Enter then Generic Office Roleplay (Facebook login required), possibly the best online simulation of an office I’ve ever seen.

The new management team thank you for your years of service and take this opportunity to tell you that the only changes which will be implemented in the next few months will be those that can clear the well defined process mapped out on pages 2814 to 2912 of your employee manual. We’re dedicated to red-tape, bureaucracy and efficiency.

I feel much better now.

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Preserving the memories of… offices for future generations

Thursday, 10 October, 2013

Offices appear to be edging ever closer to the brink of extinction. I live in hope sure, but I won’t believe the notion until I see it.

In the meantime, the Smithsonian Institution is taking no chances… they’ve started recording and cataloguing the sounds made by offices, typewriters, letters being opened, coffee breaks, things like that, dating back to, in this instance, the 1960s.

This, I imagine, so that those who will one day know no other workplace than their workstation at home, or their favourite cafe, will have an appreciation of the way their ancestors once worked.

Via things magazine.

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Working in an office is bad for your brain… and you call that news?

Monday, 15 August, 2011

Open plan offices, and clean and sterile desks – or situations where workers aren’t permitted to decorate or personalise their workspace – can result in reduced staff morale and lower productivity.

Dr Jack Lewis, a neuroscientist who conducted the test, said: “Open plan offices were designed with the idea that people can move around and interact freely to promote creative thinking and better problem solving. “But it doesn’t work like that. If you are just getting into some work and a phone goes off in the back ground it ruins what you are concentrating on. Even though you are not aware at the time, the brain responds to distractions.”

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An office, no matter how nice it looks, is still an office

Friday, 5 August, 2011

We’ve probably all seen photos of the offices of places like Google or Facebook at one time or another, and have possibly marvelled at how they make our workplaces look lacking in comparison, but for all their… cool awesomeness do they really boost productivity and make workers happy?

When’s the last time you had a creative breakthrough in a Monday morning meeting? Creativity springs from unexpected places and sources – from a walk in the park to the rare block of uninterrupted time – so thinking more broadly about the intrinsic motivations (autonomy, learning, etc.) that facilitate good work is likely to have a far happier outcome than the “latest” innovation in cubicles.

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Downsizing the office, at this rate it is heading towards extinction

Wednesday, 22 December, 2010

Advances in technology, generally smaller workforces, the desire to lower rental costs by reducing floorspace, and also the expectations of those starting work for the first time, have resulted in a decrease in the average size of an employee’s workspace from 150 square metres to about 60 square metres over the last 20 years.

Age makes a difference, workplace experts say. Baby boomers longed for a corner office and expected to separate their work lives from their home lives. “Younger workers’ lives are all integrated, not segregated,” Rivard said. “They have learned to work anywhere – at a kitchen table or wherever.” Many don’t feel a need to spend time in company quarters. Rob Jernigan, an architect and baby boomer, calls them “the backpack kids” because they grew up in an age when they could carry everything they needed at school or elsewhere in their backpacks. “Laptops can do what a computer the size of a house used to do,” he said.

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The internet has almost killed the office, long live the internet

Thursday, 24 June, 2010

Laptop computers and internet connectivity allow many people to work wherever they want, digital nomad style if they wish, which is fast rendering the concept of the office as a place of work obsolete, writes Seth Godin.

If we were starting this whole office thing today, it’s inconceivable we’d pay the rent/time/commuting cost to get what we get. I think in ten years the TV show ‘the Office’ will be seen as a quaint antique. When you need to have a meeting, have a meeting. When you need to collaborate, collaborate. The rest of the time, do the work, wherever you like.

Godin however says the final nail cannot be nailed into the coffin of the office until workers find “someplace to go”. Since we (hopefully) have a home, “someplace to go” cannot simply be somewhere to actually work.

Is he then referring to somewhere we can physically interact with our colleagues?

After all, for all the benefit of electronic, online communication, it does not completely take the place of the face-to-face interactions that are necessary for effective working relationships, a point that came to light in a recent study into workplace collaboration:

In a business setting – as in all other social relationships outside the workplace – trust is a necessary condition for effective cooperation within a group. “Technology has made us much more efficient but much less effective,” said Northcraft in a statement. “Something is being gained, but something is being lost. The something gained is time, and the something lost is the quality of relationships. And quality of relationships matters.”

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Good work, the office is a far safer haven than we thought

Wednesday, 28 April, 2010

From Brandon Robshaw’s book review of “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work”, by Alain de Botton, a London based author, comes a seldom appreciated perspective – if that’s possible – of office work.

De Botton astutely observes that the office is to the modern world what the cloister was to the Middle Ages: a sexually charged arena of repressed desire. He has a gift for defamiliarising the taken-for-granted events of everyday life, such as a train full of comfortable commuters silently reading newspaper stories of tragedy, abduction and murder: “These accounts, so obviously catastrophic and demented, are paradoxically consoling, for they help us to feel sane and blessed by comparison.”

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Advance your career, be out of the office as often as possible

Wednesday, 11 November, 2009

Less is more when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder – particularly in terms of actually showing your face at work – according to Stanley Bing’s new book, “How to Relax Without Getting the Axe”.

Of utmost importance is the art of being absent to build status, a trick made all the easier with the abundance of e-mail, cellphones and other technology, he said. While once presence was necessary, it has become almost suspect, he said. People can be in their offices too much, prompting others to wonder, “Why are they here all the time?” he said. Being absent helps create the sense of being too important to be around and available, he said. “A lot of people don’t respect people they can reach too easily,” Bing said. “You’re immediately aggrandized by the fact that you are essentially a virtual person.”

Your mileage may vary…

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I couldn’t find the words I needed so I created a metaphor

Wednesday, 21 October, 2009

50 instances of “management speak” that irritate workers the world over.

I worked in PR for many years and often heard the most ludicrous phrases uttered by CEOs and marketing managers. One of the best was, we’d better not let the grass grow too long on this one. To this day it still echoes in my ears and I giggle to myself whenever I think about it. I can’t help but think insecure business people use such phrases to cover up their inability for proper articulation.

Be sure to flick this one through to your colleagues…

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The best fun days at work are in fact days off

Thursday, 1 October, 2009

When it comes to organising a “fun day” at the office (if that’s not a contradiction to start with) there is no one activity that will please everyone. While whatever “fun day” event that is selected might suit a majority of workers, there will be a significant number who aren’t satisfied. A day off work however pleases everyone

In order to design a “fun day” at the workplace, you have to make sure that everyone can participate and that no one is offended. This typically means there is no alcohol, and nothing can be too physically demanding. After all, we work in cubicles and everyone is a total fatty. In the end, you are left with activities that no one wants to play and the day consists of awkward chit chat with people you are uncomfortable talking to for more than five minutes.

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