Tag Archives: management

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: Kitchenette Microwave Etiquitte

5 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Kitchenette Microwave Etiquitte

Oh the office kitchenette microwave. Standing alone on the edge of the counter, splattered with a thin layer of encrusted chili; it’s usually roughly 20 years old and possibly missing several buttons. It’s a sorry-looking thing, but if you want a warm lunch it’s the best you’ve got. Those 20 Lean Cuisines in the freezer aren’t going to heat themselves.

Despite its decrepit appearance, the kitchenette microwave should be treated with some measure of respect. Mainly because you’re sharing it with a large number of other people and you have that whole Golden Rule thing to consider. Also, if you inadvertently destroy it, it could be replaced by something in an even worse state of decay, or God forbid, a toaster oven.

So please take some time to familiarize yourself with proper kitchenette microwave etiquette.

Heating any of the following items could be considered poor microwave etiquette:
-any explosive item in an improperly sealed Tupperware
-fish (this an include: leftover salmon, tuna, tuna casserole, and even fish sticks)
-Any kind of Hot Pocket (they make the whole kitchenette smell like a 7-eleven)
-Indian food, leftover Chinese, or anything with the power to stink up an entire building floor when heated

As with anything communal, the kitchenette microwave get used very frequently and cleaned very rarely. So consider that next time you decide to nuke one of your bowls of exploding chili.

It’s also in bad taste if you use the kitchenette microwave to make anything involving more than one step or two microwave cycles. The microwave is a limited resource which you must share with a significant number of hungry people. Hungry people are generally not known for their patience and benevolence, so don’t be surprised if you get the stink-eye during step 5 of your Easy Microwave Ravioli Casserole.  The office kitchenette is not the place to bring out your inner Chef Wolfgang Puck (your inner Chef Boyardee, maybe).

If you choose not to follow the above rules, you may incur the wrath of the Kitchenette Nazi, who will hang large, colorful signs outlining the microwave rules as punishment for your sins. So please don’t subject your everyone else to a barrage of passive-aggressive microwave instructions due to your general ineptness.

Tip to Drive Engagement: Employee Appreciation Gifts

19 Nov

Tip to Drive Engagement: Employee Appreciation Gifts

Getting the sense that your employees are feeling a little ho-hum, a little un-Engaged? If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time at work, it’s that employee Engagement is Key. Engagement is the magical X-factor that turns employees from easily tired workers with limited resources into productivity machines, able of cranking out 3x the number of widgets with only half as many breaks, sick days, or hours of sleep!

So, in order to cultivate an environment of machine-like productivity, you need to inspire Engagement. A great way to do this is through Employee Appreciation Gifts.

What’s great is you usually only have to invest about $.15 per employee for untold increases in employee happiness and productivity, which makes it an amazing Return on Investment. Some popular options may include key chains, flashlights, desk ornaments, or if you’re feeling extra generous, coffee mugs. Remember to get your company name printed on said items so every time your employee joyously uses it they can remember who the benefactor of their happiness was.

If $.15 per employee happens to bust your Employee Engagement budget, you can always print out Achievement Awards, which we learned the value of here.

An effective way to add an extra bang for your quarter-buck is to have upper management personally shake hands with employees while passing out said Appreciation Gifts. When shaking hands, the big-wig should say something along the lines of “We appreciate you”. This will really drive the point home that you appreciate your employees.

After receiving their gift, you can also bestow upon them some kind of food item such as a hotdog or a mini bag of Nabs. Your employees should now be feeling very Engaged, so be sure to usher them quickly back to their cubicles for some quality widget-making time!


Interesting and Appropriate Author  Side-note: This year my company gave out flashlights for Employee Appreciation Gifts, which I found engaging as it gave me something to play with during the intermittent power outages. Tragically though, it turned out they tended to leak battery acid. Thankfully my company was both savvy and able to prioritize my need to avoid direct contact with sulfuric acid over my need to light up dark spaces, and they recalled the flashlights two weeks later. A replacement gift is still forthcoming, but I’m sure they’ll get to it.