Tag Archives: business

Office Survival Tip: Utilizing Lunch Breaks

21 Feb

Office Survival Tip: Utilizing Lunch Breaks          

The office lunch break is one of the most underutilized benefits an office worker has. Usually ranging in length from 30 minutes to an hour, it is the one part of your work day when you are legitimately allowed to not do cube-work.

Now, some of you may say that your miserable boss and/or work environment expects you to work through lunch. This may be true, but expectations don’t equal rules and regulations. However, if you want to travel down that logical rabbit hole, then OSHA doesn’t expect you to work through lunch. I believe in the world of corporate rock-paper-scissors, OSHA creams middle management.

Now that we’ve gotten past everyone’s reservations about not working through lunch, let’s return to the awesome opportunity that can be our daily lunch break. In order for a lunch break to be awesome it should provide an engaging mental, social, or physical escape from your office or cubicle. I’m actually a fan of those work/life improvement sites that encourage taking lunch breaks, I just think they give really crappy ideas for how to utilize your lunch break. So here are mine!

Some awesome examples of lunch break utilization may include: any impromptu team competition, any personal work you deem more important than cubicle work, any social get-together that results in laughter, or anything that could be paralleled to your childhood recess.

Some not-so-awesome examples of lunch break utilization include: Browsing any crappy news site (by crappy news site I mean something along the lines of Oprah or MensHealth.com), checking your Facebook, railing against the man, or staring longingly out the window.

Lately, when weather permits, I’ve been using my lunch breaks to throw a football with some co-workers in our parking lot. We go by the Honeybadgers, in lieu of the Cake Eaters (apparently YouTube jokes are more popular than Marie Antoinette jokes). So far there are only three of us, but I’m naively optimistic that soon our fellow cube-dwellers will notice our pint-sized football league and come traipsing out of their cubes to join us. In fact, my dream would be to provide a massive corporate playground for lunch-break enjoyment. I think it would improve a lot of issues revolving around tiredness, grumpiness, and sedentariness. Vote Sharkables for your local lunch break representative!

Office Survival Tip: Fire Drills

9 Jan

Office Survival Tip: Fire Drills

For starters, just to clarify, this is not figurative fire drill I’m talking about. Not the “fire drill” where some idea floats through your bosses head that a particular project/deadline/favor to the VP is of Utmost Importance and everyone must drop everything to assist in getting it done?

No, I’m talking about the real fire drills here. The ones where you’re sitting quietly at your desk widgeting, when your reality is suddenly shattered by the repeated eardrum implosion that is the office fire alarm. I’m not sure why fire alarms are about 50 decibels above the appropriate alarm sound level for an office, but they are. For the amount of noise that fire alarm puts out, you’d think cubical patches were spaced intermittently around heavy machinery and factory shop floors.

Regardless,though your animal instinct may interpret the meteoric screeching of the fire alarm as a sign to panic, its important to keep your head and don’t panic. If you happen to work in or near a factory (thereby quashing my previous dig at alarm decibels, thanks), now is an appropriate time for your earplugs. If you don’t, wadded up bits of paper or kleenex are passable substitutions. I only say this because If you’re not situated immeidiately beside an emergency exit, chances are you’re going to be in that building for a minute.

I believe this is due to people putting a little too much emphasis on the word “calmly” in the instructions  “don’t panic and proceed calmly to your nearest emergency exit”.

I would like to make a point here, that “calmly” does not necessarily equate to “walking as slowly as possible” . In fact, in case of a real fire this would probably be incredibly un-beneficial. No, “calmly” merely means don’t go screaming and flailing down the hallway, knocking people down to escape the flames and/or eardrum implosion. I promise its not an oxymoron.  You can still walk quickly and be calm.

Of course this is compounded by the issue that despite the “emergency” part of “emergency exit” there’s only one or two in a building, regardless of how many floors or how spread out it might be. I believe my expert grasp of Supply Chain terminology would describe this as an “emergency bottleneck”.

And if your office happens to have a turnstile, I’m sorry. There’s not much you can now do but grit your teeth and try not to let the death siren drive you to rash actions like driving your pen into the deltoid of the man waiting in line ahead of you.

Aside

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

3 Jan

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

That title may be a tad deceiving. When reading it, you should regard the word “Dealing” as more like “enduring the almost unbearable conditions brought on by the thermostat regulator” than “dealing with the responsibility of handling the office thermostat”. Unless you ARE the person who regulates the thermostat, then lucky you! I doubt it though. I always imagined the thermostat being overseen by some BigWig at the very top of the building, where all the heat rises so he always feels the need to make it colder. The VP of Climate Control probably.

Anyways, office seasons aren’t like outdoorsy seasons, in that instead of natural cycles of progressing warmth and cold as we move from winter to summer and back again, office temperatures remain at a steady, uncomfortable state marked by brief, biannual periods of intense discomfort when changing of the seasons require a switch between A/C and heat.

Therefore to survive in this strange, homeostatic environment we must first take note of the specifics of its temperature. It’s important to not be deceived into believing the outside weather bears any real influence on the indoor climate. Just because you have to start wearing sweaters outside in November doesn’t mean they’re any help whatsoever inside in November. Therefore, surviving the office thermostat really just involves coming to terms with whatever temperature zone the VP of Climate Control has designated shall reign for eternity, and then preparing for it daily.

This can be done in many ways. If your office is too cold, stash an outer layer at your desk . Feel free to swap it out an any time though. This will ensure that your clothing gets washed and you don’t become “that guy who always wears the Outdoor World jacket”.

If your office is too hot…I don’t know, I’ve never encountered this one. Maybe drink lots of iced tea. Emphasis on the iced. Or get one of those cheap-o spritzy fans. You know, the ones they sell at Disney World on excruciatingly hot days for $20 because you’re desperate and it has a picture of Tinkerbelle on it.

Also, layers can be helpful in both instances, either for putting on or removing. Try not to go too far in either case though.

Happy (Office?) Holidays

23 Dec

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

For those of you off work, enjoy the time spent with loved ones and family members. This includes furry family as well I suppose.*

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I can’t bring myself to be too much of a smartass for Christmas, which really kind of limits my writing.

So here’s to the Holidays! Especially those of awkwardly blended religions or cultures. There’s something charming about a Christmakkuh tree or, in our case Brötchen and Glühwein mixed with stockings and Alvin and the Chipmunks – The Christmas Song.

I hope Santa brings you many neon-colored post-its and highlights with which to decorate your desk and memos! What? Really? Not what you asked for?

*I naively wrapped a bone and placed it under the tree, thinking in the spirit of Christmas the dog would leave it alone until the 25th. At least he had the decency to rip it to shreds while we were sleeping and didn’t touch any of the other presents. It’s ok though, I already have payback planned for ruining his ill-planned Christmas surprise. Little does he know there’s a sweater under there as well with his name on it… 

Office Adventure: Getting A New Work Computer

21 Dec

Office Adventure: Getting  A New Work Computer

Getting a new work computer is a confusing experience

On one hand its seems like it should be a fun thing. Who doesn’t like new computers? They’re all shiny, and fast, and all those other things that make getting a new personal computer exciting. You may even get a new monitor, flat screen or widescreen if you’re lucky, and it’ll arrive at your desk in boxes. Getting something in a box is fun. It means it’s cool and new and you’re the lucky person who gets the opportunity to start slowly deteriorating its pristine condition.

However, despite all these semi-cool factors, in reality getting a new work computer is less than thrilling. For one, you don’t actually get to do anything cool with your work computer. Turns out when you get a computer at work, you’re expected to do work on it. Also, the only thing really affected by that fresh new speediness is the load times of your various Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. And now you  no longer get to throw out the excuse that it’ll take you longer to do something because you have a slow, old computer.

So, getting the optimum happiness out of a new work computer depends on finding a balance between the good and bad, and finding small joys in the overall lameness of the situation.

For one, if you get updated to a new version of MS Office, that opens you up to a whole smorgasbord of new fonts and animations to use on PowerPoint slides. Ooooh!

Also, new computer usually means new keyboard, which means you finally get to rid yourself of that damn, sticky “N” key that came about when your gummi-snack got wedged between the “N” and the spacebar.

In addition, you may be able to finagle a new mouse or keyboard pad out of the situation. Maybe even one with an ergonomic lump on it. Fancy!

So next time you’re due for an upgrade, embrace it with lukewarm excitement, bask in the small things, and be amazed as your mood marginally improves!

Office Survival Tip: Window Gazing

19 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Window Gazing

Never do something stupid outside an office building.

You know that eerie feeling you get sometimes that someone’s watching you? In my opinion, you get that feeling because someone IS watching you. Next time you get all creeped out, look around and see if there are any office buildings nearby. If so, you’re spidey sense is probably spot-on. Depending on the size of the office building, you could have multiple someone’s on multiple floors scoping you out. And if you’re tangled up in any kind of embarrassing moment, you could even have clusters of someone’s congregating and commenting on your situation. Feel self-conscious yet?

On the flip side of the coin, a good window gazing can be a great way to beat the office doldrums. It’s kind of like bird watching, only instead of searching for birds, you look for anything even remotely interesting. Also like bird watching, it get’s dull fast if you don’t have goals (I assume here. I can’t say I’ve ever even a remote inclination to bird-watch.)

Here’s three fairly universal goals to help you get started. You can add more appropriate or entertaining window gazing goals according to your specific window’s characteristics.

Check one off whenever you see:

-Anyone engaged in any kind of heated dispute on their cell phone. This can be especially entertaining if they’re a dramatic gesture-er.

-During storms, any brave, desperate soul who bursts from the lobby in a mad, awkward, umbrella-less dash to his car. (Bonus if they get to their car and realize they didn’t pull their keys out first, and then bumble around in their briefcase in the pouring rain searching for them.)

-Anyone with unusual/extreme car trouble. For instance, we saw someone this week rip the front bumper half-way off their car by pulling out of their parking spot. (Bonus if they make things worse due to their own ineptness. For instance, after ripping the bumper half-way off their car, they attempted to save face and drive away, thereby fully ripping the bumper off their car)

Because window gazing can be such effective boredom relief, any office or cube with a window vantage point is prime real estate. My first cube was a single with a view of the window. It ruined me forever.

Sharing Time is Fun Time! Holiday Parties

16 Dec

So originally I was going to write a post about Office Holiday/Christmas Parties. I even had my little Sharkable all feeling toasty and hanging out in his Christmas sweater. Then I sat down to write and realized I’ve never been to a good Office Christmas Party. This is partially my fault, since I usually feel hard-pressed to do anything work related outside of my normal working hours, especially if I have to pay money to do it, thereby excluding almost any Office Holiday Party my company has planned. Therefore I feel kind of hypocritical writing about crazy Christmas-time shenanigans with the co-workers.

So I decided to try something different for this Friday: Sharing Fun Time! Since my readers seem to have much more hilarious stories than I do anyhow, I’m curious, what awesome/awkward/cringe-worthy Office Holiday Party moments have you encountered?

I’ll go first. My best Office Christmas Party story involves a white elephant game where after a long and mighty battle I won a toddler-sized teddy bear dressed up as Santa Claus. I won’t go much farther into it or it’ll start to get boring fast. But I still drag the thing out every year and put it by the fireplace. It scares the piss out of the dog, which is always funny. So go ahead and try to top that one! It shouldn’t be very hard…

Office Survival Tip: Donut Etiquette

14 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Donut Etiquette

Nohing turns around a bad morning like the gift of donuts. That presentation you’re about to give on your failing project seems a lot less like a slow descent into the inner circles of hell when you’ve got a piping hot glazed halo of joy in your hand. Well, unless you’re on a diet, then donuts are a lose/lose situation, rife with guilt daggers. Take one, spoil your diet and wallow in the ensuing guilt; or refuse the donut and be the victim of your co-workers guilt tactics for not joining them in their donut-gasm.

If your office is gifted with a donut bounty and you decide to partake, be sure to follow correct donut etiquette.

Such as, never leave a partial donut. Chopping it into halves or quarters or whatever your mental diet-approved size is can be viewed as particularly annoying by anyone without the same donut serving size reference. It also brings up awkward questions like: is there something wrong with that particular donut half? Did she break that off with her hands? Should I take a half a donut too? What if I took two different halves to make a super donut? See. You don’t want to subject anyone to that mental can of worms. Either commit to the donut, or don’t. No matter what size the serving, you’re still popping a sugar and lard encrusted pastry into your mouth, which probably goes against whatever health kick you may be on anyways. So just accept and enjoy it for what it is.

Also, don’t be too greedy with the number of donuts you partake of (unless you were the Bringer of Donuts, then you may eat from the donut box to your heart’s content, you benevolent soul). One is expected. Two is allowed if there are extras. Three is greedy. Besides, the more times you return to the donut box, the more likely you are to become embroiled in the tricky situation known as a Mexican donut stand-off.

A Mexican donut stand-off occurs when two people approach the last donut in the donut box at the exact same time, thereby causing much awkwardness as they try to determine who gets said donut in a politically correct manner.

If you find yourself caught in a Mexican donut stand-off, the trick is to offer the other party the donut first. To immediately grab for the donut would be rude and against donut etiquette. If they are a true donut sportsman, the other party will return your offer with their own for you to have the last donut. You can then accept and claim your prize. This is the only way to get the last donut without looking like an ass. If  you offer up the donut and they take it immediately, well, then you know they’re not a true donut sportsman and should be avoided during Donut Wednesdays from here on out.

Office Survival Tip: Doodling

12 Dec

As my laptop is currently in a state of non-animation, I bring you MS Paint-ables! I hope you enjoy this MS Paint monstrosity in lieu of the normal illustrations while I continue to come to terms with the idea of replacing my no-longer-trusty computer friend.

Office Survival Tip: Doodling

Part of office life is dealing with long, intermittent bouts of tedium. These can arise in the forms of meetings, telecoms, or waiting after hours for your boss/customer/supplier to call/email/fax you something of dubious importance. There are several ways to deal with these bouts of mind-famine. Sorting paperclips, shuffling papers, doodling, and playing Klondike on your BlackBerry are all viable options. Or you can focus on the feeling of your soul slowly being sucked dry by your speckled beige cubicle walls. Out of all of these enthralling options my favorite is doodling.

The best part about doodling is that you don’t have to be particularly skilled to do it. It’s like the drawing equivalent of dancing in front of your closet mirror in your underwear, only you can do it during meetings. How liberating! Just kind of let your mind go and let your pen do what it wants. If it only wants to do rudimentary squiggles at first, it’s cool, you can pass them off as snakes or worms. Stick with it! Soon enough you’ll progress to wonky circles and lopsided stars. Keep moving forward, and eventually, if you’re lucky, anthropomorphic sharks.

Your boss may not appreciate your new-found meeting hobby, but don’t let it get you down. True genius is rarely fully realized at the time of its creation. If you still feel the need to justify your budding talent to your boss, I think I heard a statistic once that Doodlers actually pay more attention when they’re allowed to doodle freely. As a Doodler I feel this statistic may be complete horse-crap, but I guess I do pay a lot more attention to the paper in front of me when I’m doodling on it. So throw it out there and say the study was backed up by lots of scientific research and published in an academic journal. I’m sure it probably was.

Who knows, maybe your PowerPoint slide doodles will somehow stir your creative muse and inspire you to start blogging or something.

 

Office Survival Tip: Party Planning

7 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Party Planning

Office parties are a fundamental aspect of office life, if only because they help relieve the monotony of the day-to-day grind. They can arise for a variety of reasons, depending on the festive inclinations of your boss and co-workers. Holidays, retirement, birthdays, and obscure business milestones are all great reasons to throw an office party.

It is vital that your dedicated office party-planner actually be, well, dedicated. However, if you find yourself the designated party planner and don’t feel dedicated, don’t panic! Follow the below steps and everyone should be awkwardly congregating over warm-ish pizza and sodas in no time.

First you need either supplies, or money to pay for supplies. Wrangling the entire division to contribute $5 or bring Styrofoam cups is a harrowing task, akin to herding cats. Probably the most effective way to get results is to bombard everyone’s inbox with reminder emails (high priority), and if you’re feeling especially task-master-esque, flagged with follow-up reminder alarms. This is the electronic equivalent to walking into everyone’s cubicle or office and tapping them on the shoulder repeatedly, only without all the unnecessary walking around.

If you’re a spreadsheet person, get excited. Party planning is a great excuse to whip up one of your completely extraneous Excel creations. You can even color code the supply list to match the occasion! What fun! Also, be sure to make your spreadsheet an excessively large file and include it in your email spam to the rest of the office. That way it will clog up everyone’s inbox and ensure they have to address the party email in some way, shape, or form, hopefully by contributing to your party cause.  

Now you’re in the home stretch. You just have to order the food, and maybe send out a few more reminder emails, just to be safe, and you should be good to go. Congrats you party planner you! Go ahead and add it to your internal resume if you want. Only snazzy it up a little bit, something like “Experienced coordinating large groups to ensure festive results” will do.