Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting There: Walking

‘Getting There’ is a series of office tips about your commute into (and more importantly away from) the Plankton offices.

Walking to work is the slowest of all modes of travel and those who do it are well aware of this. Walking is for people who value the journey, not the destination. The walker has time to relax, reflect and evaluate their life goals. For this reason companies often provide free car parking, subsidised train tickets and onsite bicycle maintenance. Anything to discourage walking and ensure that people actually turn up, instead of wandering to the park to chill out, watch the ducks and wonder if there is more to life than this 8-5 desk job.

Given they are under such pressure to drive, walkers are considered to be quiet rebels who follow their own rules. Pedestrian crossings, for example, are shunned. When they must be used, all signals are ignored. One thing that unites all walkers is a belief in sticking it to the man (particularly the red flashing man).

People often say they live too far from work to walk but actually, this is impossible. After all, anywhere is within walking distance if you have the time and the right shoes. That extra time can be used to listen to long those long mellow tracks by bands like Pink Floyd or Sigur Ros; the kind of track which goes for half an hour before the song really starts. In fact anything shorter than ten minutes is just pop-rubbish for kids with no attention span.

Which brings us to the conclusion that people who walk to work are actually the most well adjusted individuals on the planet. If you ask someone "Why do you like to walk to work? " they will simply answer "Because I do, man ." This seemingly useless response actually says more about the walker than any Myers-Briggs self evaluation ever could. Walking is a not just a way of Getting There - it is, in fact, a way of life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting There: car

‘Getting There’ is a series of office tips about your commute into (and more importantly away from) the Plankton offices.

Driving to work is incredibly popular and one of the reasons for this is that the driver gets to choose exactly when to leave. In fact everything about the trip has the appearance of being under the driver’s control, which makes it the perfect mode of transport for micromanagers. Traffic not moving fast enough? Change lanes. Running late? Go a bit faster. Too many traffic lights? Go a different way. None of these things will actually make a difference to your trip time, but the true essence of micromanagement is never about getting results, it’s about fiddling with things as much as possible along the way.

Driving to work means drive-thru coffee, but one feature a real café has over a drive-thru is free internet. This is why one entrepreneur has started “Java Plugin”: the world’s first drive-thru internet café. Here you can pay a bill online, logon to check the tweets of the latest celebrity drug addict and also form a raid to defeat Ragnaros the Firelord - all while waiting for your baristech to prepare your double chai soy skinny mocha macchiato with a twist of melon. And you’ll never have to leave the comfort of your carbon-emitting cocoon.

Lastly, driving allows you to treat your car like your own personal performance studio. When in the car you can not only turn the radio up as loud as you want, you can also sing along at full volume. This is why all cars built since the 1960s have been factory fitted with a soundproof shield that surrounds the entire vehicle. The shield allows you to sing along to your favourite tracks, even with the window down, without people in the neighbouring vehicle (or suburb) ever discovering that what you want, what you really really want, is to zigga zig ahhh.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting There: Train

‘Getting There’ is a series of office tips about your commute into (and more importantly away from) the Plankton offices.

Train travel gives commuters the opportunity to relax. While on the train you can listen to music, read a book or play video games. Of course, many people do all these things while driving, but that takes a special skill. To properly “relax on the tracks” you will need to know how to ignore any workmates who might also catch the same train and who invariably want to talk about work. Simply holding up a sign saying “I get paid to talk to you, and I am not getting paid now” is effective but rude. Instead, from the moment you leave the office look directly down and never ever make eye contact with anyone until you get home.

The downside to catching the train is that you are completely at the whim of the megalomaniacal public transport companies who proudly announce that 84% of their services ran in the last month rather than sheepishly apologise that 16% didn’t due to slightly inclement weather. Trains will also stop for no apparent reason just outside the station and stationmasters will alter the timetable at the last minute just to watch the fat people run to the other platform.

The advantage of the timetable, however, is that it’s something that all company drones seem to understand. If you say to a colleague “I’m sorry I have to go or I’ll miss my train” they will say “OK, you better run”. However if you say “No, I don’t have time to look at the major problem that you could have shown me at any time, but have only just decided to show me at 4:58pm, because I have to drive home to a family that is expecting me” you will get the reply “You’re driving? You can hang around for five minutes.”

And it is never five minutes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

“Working” from home

Many people think that working from home doesn’t really involve work at all. With no bosses around, and with a wide selection of daytime TV, you are free to do anything and no one but the Danoz Direct call centre will be any the wiser. The reality, though, is almost exactly the opposite.

When in the office, most workers will try their hardest to do as little work as possible. Everyone can press “alt-tab” with the agility of a ninja and internet logs can be hacked so that no one knows you visit Lady Gaga’s website. Games are installed with “boss” keys, which show something work related when someone is near. (Unfortunately, “work related” is only a spotty game developer’s guess at what real work looks like, which is invariably an out of date spreadsheet of completely irrelevant data. This will only cause your boss to grumpily ask “Why are you spending your time looking at an out of date spreadsheet of completely irrelevant data?”)

However when working from home people are acutely aware that no one is looking over their shoulder and that when they next turn up to work their output will be scrutinised. This knowledge sends most people into a guilty frenzy which means they produce more in four hours at home than they would in two weeks at the office.

Management conferences have whole seminar streams based on this concept of “Productivity Through Guilt” or PTG. This is why, despite the obvious productivity gains, managers must seem reluctant to allow people to work from home. PTG is only effective when sitting on your back verandah with a glass of wine, a laptop and no pants is seen as a privilege that you don’t deserve and that might be snatched away at any time, rather than a right.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pain in the art

In a response to a recent fashion audit, the Plankton offices will be undergoing a redesign. According to the auditors, the sixteen greys used in the current “Rising Storm” colour palette were too distracting. It will be replaced with “Drabbé”, a two tone palette consisting of “grey” and “gray”.

Management fought against using two tones, fearing that this was still too much stimulation, but Conrad, the company stylist, made an impassioned plea to the Plankton board. ‘She is all about, how you say, comparison, no?’ he said in an accent that he hoped the board would find continental and exotic, but ended up sounding fake and just a little racist. ‘Ow can you make ze claim that something is truly grey, unless you compare it to something slightly less grey, no?’

So, with such flawlessly fashionable logic behind the design, the refurbishment is in full swing, and with it you can expect some aesthetic changes:

  • The bright green exit signs and garish red fire extinguishers have been removed and replaced with bas reliefs depicting significant events in Plankton’s history.
  • The first aid kit and defibrillator shall remain (as symbolic reminders of the pain and suffering we should all endure) but will be glued shut to the wall to ensure people don’t clutter the office with nasty bandaids or shout “CLEAR!” at artistically inappropriate times.
  • Windows will be replaced with a photorealistic mural of the outside view and air conditioning ducts will be sealed over. This will ensure that employees are guaranteed a stable and safe work environment, regardless of what is happening in the real world.

Also, where possible, staff will be asked to work from home. This is to ensure that the office is kept clean of food scraps, office waste, piles of documents, computers or people.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don’t show your booty

Information is like gold and must be hoarded to ensure its scarcity and value. Within a company, the guardians of information are like dragons who have been laying on beds of knowledge for so long that various bits of data have been encrusted onto their underbellies. Those who seek this information must, like adventurers of old, use any number of tricksy tactics to relieve the hoarders from their infobooty.

Since the publication of an Office Tip last year which advised on how to interrupt people, office productivity has plummeted. While the “adventurers” have been able to obtain the information they seek, the “dragons” have been forced not only to part with it, but also to interact with co-workers.

If you are a data dragon, avoid interruptions by making it hard for people to find you. You can achieve this just by sitting at someone else’s desk, however there are alternatives:

  • Book a meeting room. Be warned, though: any person sitting alone in a meeting room will attract the kinds of people who will have to ask: “with all your friends, are ya?” (Note that when in school, these were also the people who “made you look”.)
  • Wear a disguise. No-one ever asks the new guy for information. Also, no-one wants to speak to the weirdo with an obviously fake nose.
  • Call in sick. Sure you will be using your sick leave to do work, but the fact that you are willing to do that is in itself a symptom of a deep illness, and any doctor would be willing to sign a note saying so.

The definitive way to avoid interruptions is to go to work for a different company. You must be aware, though, that when you change companies you will no longer be a dragon but merely another hairy-footed data thief on a quest for truth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting your feet under the desk

Thanks to an Employment Act loophole found many years ago by Plankton’s highly paid legal team, Plankton staff are only allowed 2.5 days of annual leave a year. Most staff store this leave up so that every 4 years they can take 2 whole weeks off - and relatives of Plankton employees have learned to plan important events like weddings, births and funerals around this schedule.

When going on recreation leave, some people like to do absolutely nothing. Other people think “I do that every day at work!” and so try to cram as many active pastimes into their break as possible: waterskiing, snowboarding, waterboarding etc. Either way, returning to work after a long break can take some adjustment, but a little preparation can make the transition easier.

Before going on leave, finish (or destroy all evidence of) any outstanding tasks. If, on your return, you pick up something you were working on before your break it will immediately set your mind back to that time and it will be as if your two weeks on the foreshore of the Bendigo creek never happened.

Upon your return, set aside a whole day just to read emails. Leaving your work computer for two weeks will cause a large backlog of emails which you will be tempted to quickly skim and delete. But just because you have been away does not make an email less important. Therefore each offer for cheap watches or personal enhancement medications should be read carefully and treated on its own merits.

Most importantly, do not start your new work semester with any adages. Statements that begin with words like “This year I promise I will” seem like a great way to start fresh. However it will only make your inevitable fall into the same old rut all the more painful. Remember: zero expectations equals zero disappointment.