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Showing posts from March, 2015

Goodbye, Girl: Technology Conference Boots "Booth Babes"

Bringing in very attractive people to hawk products has become a common sales tactic at conferences. Now one major technology conference has apparently decided it's time to say goodbye to the "booth babe." Oh no, now everyone will have to pay attention to the products! Okay, let's call these very pretty people "promotional models" instead, which is the proper terminology from what I can gather? Anyway, Network World reports on an impending technology conference that no longer wants such an attractive distraction standing front and center on the conference floor. It's a brave new world, technology conference attendees! You won't be able to sell products and sign deals on the power of unattainable pretty people anymore -- at least not at this particular conference? Think less sex appeal, more SQL server. Let's focus on the technology, people! Zzzzz... Now the question is, will other major conferences -- in technology, automotive, the UFC, and o…

Ahh-Choo! Finding Workplace Respect For Spring Allergies

Springtime is here, which means your allergy-prone co-worker is going to be sniffling, sneezing and wheezing all the way to quitting time. Oh, sniff, sniff. Yes, allergy season is upon us, and it has real-world impacts on the workplace. One study estimated that nearly 7 million U.S. workdays are lost each year to hay fever allergies, because employees are either absent or present but less productive. Let's refer to the latter as "pollen-induced presenteeism." The mind-blowing price tag amid all this springtime nose blowing? Employers can lose more than $600 million in annual productivity to seasonal allergies. That's nothing to sneeze at, is it? Maybe you're lucky never to have folded like a deck chair in the face of pollen season. Sure, your nose is a little bit runny and your eyes were vaguely itchy the other day, but you're not sure if allergies were to blame. Maybe you simply had a stray eyelash in your eye, or a piece of dust? Whatever it is, Zyrtec …

I Do! Companies Create Trendy Perks For Employees' Spouses

Do you ever feel married to your work? Well, now companies want your spouse to feel married to the work, too! Recent studies (which I've blogged about) found that having a happy, supportive spouse is highly important to our overall work performance, and some companies are taking such findings to heart by creating trendy workplace perks around spousal participation. An article in today's New York Post reports on employers who are busy incorporating employees' spouses into the company fold by offering brown-bag continuing education lunches, third parties that can answer pressing benefits questions, and opportunities to accompany spouses on all-expense-paid business trips, among other things. These companies are finding that this type of spousal inclusion helps to create a happier, more loyal, and more harmonious workplace, especially these days when many employees can feel overworked and tethered to their work gadgets 24/7. When a working spouse must work late or must b…

Does Your Work Peer Treat You Like A Personal Assistant?

Your team has just worked out the time coordinates for an upcoming meeting, when a teammate asks you to remind him about it when the time comes. Let's talk about the calendar-averse work peer who treats you like a personal scheduling assistant! Reading this story got me thinking about the employee who relies on other people's time management skills. While everyone else on the team takes personal responsibility for jotting down the time, this co-worker prefers to drop the responsibility of reminding him (or her) into somebody else's lap.Would you drop me a text the morning of to remind me? Thanks. It's one thing if the calendar-averse co-worker is your boss. In this case, it's an annoyance, but one you might be willing to put up with on the job. (Hint: If you're spending more time running your boss's errands than doing your own work, it may be time for your boss to consider hiring a personal assistant.)IS IT GOOD KARMA, OR SOMETHING MORE? No matter how …

Panera Bread To Record Employees As They Work

Ah, Panera Bread. The go-to stop for mid-level leaders who lunch, laptop-toting self-employed types who wear headphones, and gabby, stay-at-home moms who need to get out of the house. And, um, employees who are being secretly taped while they prepare orders to see how they might be screwing up. St. Louis-based Panera Bread says that it will secretly tape employees working in one unnamed store location to discover ways to speed up service and to see where mistakes are being made. Ah, ah, ah -- you forgot the lettuce, and hold the mayo!The St. Louis Business Journal reports that it will be similar to reviewing an athlete's performance on game film. So let's rewind and go to the videotape! That Chipotle Chicken Panini Sandwich prepared last week was clearly out of bounds and we're calling a flagrant foul. Er, fowl. I'm all for companies trying to increase reliability, work out the kinks in their processes and help employees improve, but I'm not sure what secret…

Will Starbucks Workplace Delivery Service Grind Down Morale?

Starbucks plans to bring us the future of coffee by delivering it to us at the office. Now you won't have to get up and walk down the street for a cup of Joe. That's progress, right? Too bad you'll still have to deal with your quirky, coffee-swilling co-workers, though. For many of us, the coffee experience is not to be trifled with on any occasion. We take our morning Joe seriously. It must be made to our specific instructions, or else. It's easy when we can control the process by brewing our own coffee -- be it black, cream and sugar, only cream and no sugar, sugar and no cream, a spoonful and a half of sugar ONLY, hazelnut coffee creamer, vanilla coffee creamer, mocha coffee creamer, skim milk, 2-percent, whole milk, half and half, half caf half decaf, whipping cream, cinnamon, sprinkles on top. Sprinkles are for winners, of course, and you load up on them like there's no tomorrow. Perhaps you've gotten to know your local barista, who has your cup of co…

It's Time To Help the Guy Who Stamps Our Time Stamps

Have you heard of NTP, otherwise known as the Network Time Protocol? To be honest, neither have I. But NTP plays a big part in keeping the Internet -- and millions of businesses large and small -- up and running every day. NTP is the leading "time synchronization system" behind our Macs, Windows, many network servers, and Linux computers. I'm not a technology writer, but it sounds pretty darn important. What does NTP do, exactly? For the average, Internet-using employee, it means that our laptops and desktops can ring up the NTP server regularly to make sure the computer's time clock stays accurate. This way, the time stamps on our emails, files and instant messages stay correct and up-to-date. For companies across industries, timing is incredibly crucial for everything from billing to customer interactions to documentation. In layman's terms, NTP is what keeps your company from looking like grandma's house after the clocks move ahead at Daylight Saving…

Survey Ranks Men's And Women's Differing Pet Peeves At Work

A new survey breaks down the bad habits that annoy us at work along gender lines. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, but our co-worker's highly-annoying workplace habit is happening right here on planet Earth! Luxury company Nicoccino commissioned a recent survey to find out which co-worker bad habits tend to get to us at work -- from smelly lunches consumed at nearby desks to messy desks to talking way too much. Even better, the survey breaks it all down by gender! Without further delay, here are the 10 co-worker habits that most annoy women at work: 1. Eating smelly food; 2. Being late; 3. Taking many cigarette breaks; 4. Poor hygiene; 5. Failing to be organised; 6. Keeping a messy desk; 7. Colleagues who don't return borrowed stationery; 8. Talking on the phone too loudly; 9. Taking too long for lunch; 10. Dressing inappropriately. And here are the 10 bad co-worker habits that most annoy men at work: 1. Keeping a messy desk; 2. Colleagues spraying perfume or…

Is This the Real Reason Employees Don't Use the Break Room?

A recent Staples survey found employees are breaking up with break time because they're simply too busy to leave their desks. But what if they're avoiding the break room because they don't want even more work to do? A work friend told me something rather surprising lately: (S)he avoids the break room at work because walking down the hallway is almost always a guarantee of having more work plopped onto their plate alongside last night's leftovers. When it comes down to it, this employee would rather consume cold, left-over pasta amid the semi-quiet confines of his or her work area rather than get up, start making a beeline for the break room microwave, and...duck! Incoming!"Oh, hi there! I'm glad I bumped into you because I was planning to email you later today. I've been thinking about next week's group presentation, and I'm wondering if you can..." Oh, no. Your prairie-dogging co-worker just pulled you aside to add four unreturned phone ca…

Watch Out For Apple Watch Show-Offs In the Workplace

Watch out! The Apple Watch is coming to your workplace soon. Get ready to watch your co-worker coo over his new WiFi-enabled wristband as he tells you how much he paid for it. Can we just bring back the Swatch instead? Business and technology journalists are clocking a lot of time this week writing about the Apple Watch in anticipation of its April launch. From how it could send the Swiss watch industry into an "ice age" to its price tag ($10,000 at the high end) to its workplace-applicable apps, journalists are on Apple Watch story watch. Meanwhile, the rest of us are sitting around thinking:Wow, people still wear watches? I haven't worn one in years! I just check the time on my smartphone these days. Let's think different, however, by anticipating the real-workplace ramifications of the Apple Watch! Instead of staring at a smartphone, our co-workers will be staring at their wrists and sending up-to-the-minute heartbeats to other people for some reason. I supp…

Companies Are Having A Hard Time Selling Millennials On Sales

Sales used to be the foot in the door to a stellar corporate career, but it turns out the younger generation isn't sold. It begs the unsolicited question: Who will sell us on the future if nobody wants to be the salesperson anymore? If coffee is for closers, then put that coffee down because a new Harvard Business School report says that sales jobs are getting harder for companies to fill. Sure, sales managers can be incredibly picky in who they hire. A technology company wants salespeople who excel at sales AND have a deep understanding of the technology to conquer (and up-sell) demanding clients who have done hours of online product research. Most applicants for sales jobs, however, will tend to be good at one thing but not the other. But back to the point of this post: Millennials just aren't that into you, sales! You're too difficult, you're too demanding, you're too demeaning, you're hard work, you're full of rejection, the scenes from Glengarry Gl…

Your Creative Genius May Be Driven By Sheer Distraction

Do you always feel distracted at work? Like you can't filter out your office surroundings to create a laser-like focus on the task at hand? Well, according to new research, your inability to block everything out may be a sign of creative genius! It was a toss-up this morning between blogging about the new $10,000 Apple watch for work purposes, how distraction drives our creative genius, or a new "10 happiest jobs in America" survey that ranks school principal as America's happiest job. Hmm. I think I'll go with distracted genius today, because when this Gen Xer ponders school principals I think about Mr. Vernon from The Breakfast Club, who didn't seem all that happy in his work. It must be a generational thing? So let's talk about the distracted creative genius lurking within us as we fail to filter out the vocal-fry affected co-worker who keeps going on and on (and on...) about her lazy boyfriend and her bichon frise! A new Northwestern University st…

How To Look Busy On the First Monday After Daylight Saving

Go ahead, American workforce: Have an extra cup of coffee today. You're going to need it to get through the day. If you're like me, then you spent a good part of yesterday thinking: "Where has the day gone? How can it be ___ o'clock already?" Now I'm sitting here, sipping coffee and seeing test patterns after getting too little sleep. An extra hour of lost sleep makes a big difference. In fact, a few 2009 studies found that springing ahead resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American employees, as well as a nearly 6% increase in workplace injuries. So how are we going to get through this first Monday after Daylight Saving***, besides wondering why we're still falling back in November and springing ahead in March? Here are 50 quick ideas for looking busy at work today. Most of all, simply look like you're accomplishing something, anything today. Double-check everything you do, think harder before speaking, lower your work expectations of yourse…

March Madness Gets An "A" For Academic One-Upping At Work

March Madness is here, and so is your co-worker's propensity for reminding you that she graduated from an Ivy League school. Let's learn how to practice some workplace defense, shall we? March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year. The brackets! The last-minute, game-winning threes at the buzzer! The heartbreak! The thrill of completely unexpected, 16th-seed victory! The NCAA Tournament is always fun to watch, and many employees will be keeping an eye on the games while they work.A new OfficeTeam survey reveals that half (50%) of senior managers think the sheer fun of the college basketball playoffs boosts employee morale, and more than one-third (36%) think that March Madness is good for employee productivity. In fact, March Madness is a slam dunk, no pun intended: The percentage of managers who see March Madness as a net positive has increased 20% since 2013, according to OfficeTeam's survey. Not only will employees be watching the NCAA Tournament, they mig…

How To Stay Focused When Winter Gets In the Way

I haven't blogged in awhile. What can I say, other that it's winter on the East Coast. If you live elsewhere, please allow me to explain. From snow days to two-hour delays to random ice storms to tomorrow's impending snowpocolypse, we here on the East Coast are simply trying to dig out from under and catch up. March is coming in like a lion. I should speak only for myself; I'm sure there are many weekday workaholics who manage to stay on top of everything, and them some. However, I suspect even they could point to a few instances of winter-induced inconsistency over the last few months in the form of delayed scheduling, unmet deadlines, stops and starts, no-show co-workers, cancelled meetings, largely unproductive exercise workouts, working from home while the kids climb the walls, and generally running behind on nearly everything. How can we have it all when we can't get anything done?! It's the refrain of the upwardly-mobile, winter-enduring, modern East …