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permitted subversiveness August 13, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Experiences, Observations.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Every morning when I arrive at work, I put my lunch into the refrigerator closest to my desk. It’s not in the main break room; there’s a small one near my desk, so that’s the one I use.

CC-licensed photo by George Finley Bovard

CC-licensed photo by George Finley Bovard

It’s also home to the notice board, the home of permitted subversiveness.

Notice boards always have interesting things tacked onto them — sexual harassment memos, advertisements to buy or rent things, cards from former employees saying how much they miss their old jobs, and the inevitable articles or editorial cartoons that get stuck up there when no one’s looking so no one gets caught.

Not that it matters. See, notice boards and the things tacked onto them are pretty much free-speech zones in offices, more than almost anywhere else, and as long as the items on them aren’t pornographic, obscene, or outright critical of the workplace, they’re fine.

The bigger the company is, the more important it is for them to allow a little subversiveness in the workplace in the form of political cartoons and articles criticizing the company — for example, if you find a piece in the Wall Street Journal saying how your company is losing money because of investor issues, and you think everyone needs to know about it, stick it up there. It can’t be tracked back to you, and it’s just sharing a news story. You aren’t criticizing the company; the WSJ is doing it. And what about if your company is going crazy over social networking? Political cartoonists have found hilarious ways to illustrate just how silly social networking can be if used incorrectly.

In my old office, seven years ago — yes, once upon a time I had an office with a door, and I wasn’t even a manager — I put up a whole wall of amusing cartoons. A couple were borderline political (and many of those were against my personal political viewpoint), a couple were PG-13 because of sex jokes, some were cute or nostalgic, and the rest were plays on words like this:


Now, at the time, my company was doing very well. We were making money and expanding — I’m working somewhere else now, but they’re still making money and still expanding* so I’m pretty sure their notice boards don’t have a lot of subversive messages on them.

This morning when I put away my lunch I found a new political cartoon excoriating companies’ over-reliance on Twitter and similar services. That’s exactly what we’re doing here at CorporateSpeak. I’m certain the cartoon will live there for quite some time, next to an advertisement for a discounted week at a vacation timeshare and our list of company holidays for 2009. Our Big Boss knows that taking it down would just lower morale — we’d have our one outlet to complain taken away — and he also knows that people are just expressing their frustration in a healthy fashion.

Every little bit helps.

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* I resigned when one of our clients harassed me because of my appearance and the head of my division told my boss (the head of my region) that we (meaning the company) was not going to back me up because the client brought in too much money. I understand that, but it was still kind of a dick move on the company’s part. A month later I took a job with a different company that paid almost 15 percent more. The old company has better benefits and is a better place to work… unless a client dislikes your appearance.



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