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printer signs November 24, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Seen Elsewhere, Technology Trouble.
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Refrigerator signs aren’t the only signs you find at the office. There’s also the collection of exciting missives pinned up around ever printer.

from Passive Aggressive Notes

The printer is an interesting place. It’s somewhat replaced the water cooler as a kibitzing zone, since more than half the time the damn thing doesn’t work anyway, or you’re stuck there rifling through someone else’s jobs, or you’re busy reading all the signs.

Most common is the “pick up your printing promptly” sign, which is pretty understandable. The average office printer can hold maybe 100 sheets in the output tray, though there’s no safety that says “if you hit an obstruction, stop printing”. Instead, the printer keeps shoving pages out through its slot, crumpling them up and losing them amid contracts and documentation and coupons and personal e-mails and funny pictures of cats and, of course, signs asking people to pick up their printing promptly. These can be ignored because if you see them, you’re not the culprit, and if you’re the culprit, you’ll never see them.

Next-most-common is “don’t remove others’ print jobs” or something similar. Admittedly, I’ve done this. It happens sometimes; I’ll print four or five documents, pick them up, and realize five minutes later as I’m sorting that I’ve got someone’s travel plans in between copies one and two. Usually I’ll just bring the pages to the person’s desk; it gives me a chance to waste some time at work chatting, which is always a plus. The thing is: if your print job isn’t there, odds are good you’ve already reprinted it. Unfortunately there’s no way to be sure someone else has taken your printing. I wish there was.

You’ll also find retaliatory signs, such as the one above about robots learning about love. Wherever there are office signs, there are retaliatory signs — signs that make fun of the signposter for his or her spelling, grammar, bad jokes, repetitiveness, or anal-retentiveness. These are fun to make, but don’t do it. Everyone knows it’s you.

And, finally, there are the helpful signs. I tend to make these. For example: about four years ago, I figured out why one of our printers kept jamming: the rollers that controlled tray 3 messed things up for some reason and told the printer it wasn’t working, even when it was. So I hand-lettered a little sign that said something like this:

Do not put any paper in Tray 3. This will cause the printer to think it is jammed. Use Tray 2 instead.

See? Nothing snide or snarky. Just a simple note.

I also found a way to fix my printer settings so that the computer wouldn’t even look for tray 3, because that particular model of printer would try tray 3 before every page, thereby making the print jobs take five times as long as they should have. Not everyone got the fix… just people I liked. You know who you are.

What kind of signs are up by your printer? Anything interesting? Send in your photos; if I get enough, I’ll do a “printer sign week”.

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entire office unsure what to do November 23, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Experiences.
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Though this Onion article is clearly written in jest, it raises an interesting point:

The entire office staff of Altman & Hanson Accounting remained utterly baffled as to what, if anything, should be done in response to the prominent sobbing coming from the cubicle of 36-year-old clerk Jack Underwood, sources reported today.

Leaving aside the usual jokes about pay cuts and furloughs and loss of benefits, it’s entirely possible that one of your coworkers may indeed be crying at his or her desk at some point.

What do you do?

Well, for starters, if you’re the person who needs to cry, the professional thing to do is find somewhere private to break down and then compose yourself. Bathrooms are good — especially if your floor has a semiprivate one hidden somewhere — as are conference rooms not being used at the moment or, if you can make it in time, your car.

If you are the observer of the tears, you have three options:

  1. Ask what’s wrong.
  2. Ignore it completely.
  3. Poll your coworkers to see if anyone has an answer.

The most likely of these, of course, is item 3, which not only saves you from having to deal directly with the person in tears while satisfying your inner need to gossip and making sure that the crying coworker’s plight is communicated to as many people as possible.

Next-most-likely is item 2, ignoring it — it’s likely that the person crying can’t control himself or herself, which is why s/he is sitting at his/her desk instead of escaping to somewhere else. Depending upon how well you know the person, you probably already know if you should ask what’s wrong or just keep moving on.

And then there’s item 1, which is getting involved. For those looking to form an extracurricular relationship, this can be a great door-opener — sit down, talk, and squirrel away those brownie points. It’s a definite in. Just remember that you could be getting yourself into a huge mess — what if the problem involves your mutual boss? What if that person got fired but you didn’t? Or, worst of all, what if it’s something you don’t think is worth the tears? Can you trust yourself not to say “man up, Nancy!” and instead respond kindly?

Of course, there are times when you can’t help it. Once, a co-worker of mine got a call that his brother had suffered a stroke and it took him some time to recover. At that time, we were part of a tightly-knit department and we all offered to help out. He was fine after an hour or so and declined our offers to cover his shift. His brother is now on the road to recovery, and most of us met him on his last visit to the office.

Personally, the best option in my opinion is to ignore it. As I said, if the person can’t get out of there in time, there’s a good reason for it, and unless that person is your work-wife or work-husband, you probably shouldn’t get involved.

The same, by the way, goes for angry coworkers who can’t stop expressing how they feel. Just remember to duck.

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can I hear those choices again? November 20, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Pictures, Seen Elsewhere.
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It’s always interesting to me how the choices are always bad.

i gave up November 20, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Pictures, Seen Elsewhere.
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It’s surprising how many times I’ve had to talk to new people about stuff that I’ve already figured out because the staff has changed or the vendor’s been bought.

on peeing in a dark suit November 19, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Economic Downturn, Getting Fired.
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From Overheard in the Newsroom:

“Doing a good job here is like peeing your pants in a dark suit — you get a warm feeling but no one else notices.”


Don't pee in the dark suit. (cc-licensed photo by Jeremy Carbaugh)

These days, it’s really hard to get more than lip service paid to you when you do a good job. Even as few as five years ago, people who did good jobs could count on relatively-substantial raises, bonuses, promotions, and respect. But then the economy turned, and companies had to cut corners any way they could.

Lucky for them, when the big companies started laying off hundreds of employees, the smaller ones realized they could just cut pay or bonuses or raises and say “well, you still have a job, so congratulations, your bonus this year is that you get to keep it.” (I have a few articles brewing on that front.)

And yet we have to continue doing the best we can, doing work we’re proud of, or else we’ll just lose our jobs too. If that’s the case, maybe we should all pee in our dark suits.

it’s your job November 18, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management, Pictures, Seen Elsewhere.
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cs_reportWhile this is generally true, there are times when delegation of reports can be a good thing. My old boss asked me to start doing monthly reports for the sales staff and the executive team, and I figured, why not? I’m good at research and I’m always interested in how we’re doing as a company.

Turns out that I was not only way better at it than him, but I could get it done faster because I didn’t look at it as a chore.

However, it’s highly likely that when you’re asked to put together a huge report, it’s because it’s something your boss should’ve done but is just too lazy to do right. And it totally resonates; why else was it a major point in the first Harold & Kumar film?

no one will know November 18, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Pictures, Seen Elsewhere.
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This totally exemplifies my life before the reorg. No one could make any decisions except for the Two-Year-Old. Literally everything had to be run by her, and pinning her down was insane. Sometimes she’d refer me to another manager, who’d just refer me back to her because he was afraid of making any decisions.

Nowadays I’m at a level where a lot of us are on the same authority plane. Technically I have a little more because when I say something can’t be done, it really can’t be done and my co-workers have to go back to the client and say “you’re doing it wrong”. But even now when I say “please do this so I can complete the project for you”, there’s an e-mail chain the length of a golf course as I ask for something, that person asks the person who can talk to the client, the client asks their boss, their boss asks the salesperson, the salesperson asks someone in my department, that person asks me, and then we go back in the other direction. It’s rather amusing, when you think about it.

why do you think I have it? November 17, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Observations.
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I’m not known for having the cleanest desk in the universe. In fact, I was somewhat famous for it when I worked downstairs. Stacks of paper, notes scribbled on several pads in no particular order, toys and books and printouts all over the place, you name it. Now that I’m upstairs, things are a little neater — I still have a pile of stuff, but the notebooks at least are neat and everything messy is on one side.

One of the pitfalls of having a messy desk, of course, is losing things:

* Last Monday: “It’s not on my desk”
* Last Tuesday: “I rechecked, and it’s definitely not on my desk”
* Last Wednesday: “I definitely don’t have it. You must have it.”
* Last Thursday: “It’s definitely not with me. I remember giving them to you.”
* Last Friday: “I don’t know why you haven’t found it yet. It has to be somewhere on your desk.”
* Yesterday: “Erm, here’s that thing you were looking for. It was under some papers on my desk.”
* Today: “You need what from me? Why do you think I have it?”

This is more about e-mail these days — specifically “I didn’t get your e-mail” or “I didn’t get that meeting request”. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in a place where I needed to give anyone anything that isn’t digital. Plus, most of the stuff I work on is on shared drives… though, given that downstairs when the shared drive failed we lost years of data… yeah, it’s possible that me, you, or anyone could have stuff on their computer hidden under a folder or something.

meeting cost calculator November 16, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Meeting Minutes.
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And, on the heels of workpoop, we have the meeting cost calculator. Basically what this nifty little tool does is figure out, based upon the average salary of the attendees, how much a meeting is costing the company.

Try it next time.


cc-licensed photo by Andy Melton

Here’s an example: in my old role, I was required to attend the morning planning meeting every day despite not being involved in any of the actual planning. I had to spend anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes there. (Let’s say 30 per day.) Also in attendance: two designers, two managers, one VP, an average of five photographers and/or videographers, an average of five photographer/videographer/writer/jack-of-all-trades people, the person who actually implemented what happened during morning planning, and one multimedia design specialist. That’s an average of 18 people a day locked in for 30 to 60 minutes (the designers, managers, and VP always stayed the full time) — again, we’re going with 30 — just to talk about the stuff we’re doing today and the stuff we did yesterday. Let’s say, if you average out the salaries, that each person makes $27.50 per hour. So, $27.50 * 0.5 * 260 (the number of weekdays in an average year) = $3,575 per year per person spent on the planning meeting. Multiply that by 15 (just to be generous) and you get $53,625.

Yes. That’s right. Almost another average person’s salary was spent on that morning planning meeting.

Double it, because they had another one in the afternoon as well which, fortunately, I didn’t have to attend. Also, the afternoon meeting was attended by people who make less money (generally), so let’s say $100,000 was spent a year on average on the two daily planning meetings. That’s three low-paid individuals’ salary.

Makes you a little more likely to want to try the meeting ticker, doesn’t it?

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workpoop November 13, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Seen Elsewhere, Wasting Time.
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Sometimes, other blogs can say things far more eloquently than you (or, in this case, I) can. Such as this post on BoingBoing:

How much do you get paid to poop? That’s the question asked by Workpoop.com, a Web site that will, helpfully, time your restroom breaks and then calculate how much money you make while on the toilet using that time, the number of times you go per week and your hourly salary. I’m torn between three feelings here: First, a childish glee; Second, a childish disappointment that I can’t really participate, what with not having an hourly salary; and Third, the creeping sensation that, somewhere, somebody’s boss is using this to shorten their break times.

Regrettably, that third one is very, very likely.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do take some advantage of my company’s “hands-off” policy on work bathroom breaks. It’s not that I go in there to intentionally waste time, but hey, I have an iPhone and it comes with me everywhere I go. I go into the bathroom to poop, sure… but then I get sidetracked with e-mails or instant messages or casual games or even an idea for a CorporateSpeak blog entry that I start composing in the Notes app.

Speaking of iPhones, how long do you think before WorkPoop has an iPhone app where you can keep track of your time spent in the bathroom, how much company money you’ve spent dumping, and so on… and, best of all, how much have you spent versus others in the country or the world? I’d certainly like to know, and it would give me one more thing to waste time on while sitting in the bathroom.

Oh, and speaking of dumps and work, this gave me a little chuckle when I found it this week. I would totally do it, too.