Thursday, February 11, 2010

Workplace annoyance: sound redundant?

Every once in a while, we read an article or see a news report which, after exhaustive research, reveals conclusions we've known all along. Such was the case in a piece put out by Reuters and picked up by

1,836 people were surveyed and asked what conditions they found most irritating in the workplace, as well as which work jargon they found most annoying. Rather than simply listing the results in a two-dimensional grid, I'm going to spin a little work yarn; just a little story about Mr.-Average-Office-Worker-Guy, shlepping himself to his place of employment at AnywhereCo, Inc. See how many obnoxious phrases and annoying work conditions you can find:

Parv sprinted the block-and-a-half from where the bus had dumped him off, panting heavily as he plowed through the revolving door to the high-rise building. He could feel the sweat dripping down his back and congealing just above his belt line.

As he stepped off the elevator onto the sixteenth floor, a gust of frigid, manufactured air blasted his face and torso, freeze-drying the perspiration onto his body like a salty magic shell. Parv loped quickly toward his cubicle, and passed an easel displaying the company health fair. The sign offered free flu shots to those employees willing to have their body fat measured for an instructional video. "Fat chance," Parv chuckled.

He slammed his backpack down onto his desk and turned on his PC for a quick email check. The familiar, little message rectangle appeared on the screen. "Server down. Please contact technical support." Parv didn't hate his computer; he just disliked it with a fiery passion.

He stopped off at the kitchen to stash his lunch bag and opened the communal refrigerator. Three levels of the receptacle had been crammed with old brown bags and still older, browner Tupperware. The sole area remaining to place a lunch was coated with and ancient layer of puddled Grape Crush; it's stickiness strong enough to bond the heat tiles on the space shuttle Endeavor.

Time to urgently pursue one last detour. The four cups of Taster's Choice Parv had brewed himself back at his apartment had caught up with him and were now threatening to submerge his distressed bladder. As he finished up his duties at the urinal, the adjacent stall door burst open. The figure moved with great stealth; Parv could only discern that it was a male, clutching a sports section, wearing a blue suit and brown Cole Haan wingtips. Parv's peripheral vision followed the figure, first out of the stall door and then...out of the restroom.

"Oh, come on!" churned Parv. "Just humor me and wash your @#$%ing hands already!"

And now, time for another informative and helpful meeting. Continuing down the hallway another thirty feet and turning left at Conference Room 16C, Parv was welcomed by the gloomy stares of his co-workers. Taff, by far the most talkative of his workmates, zeroed in on Parv as he nestled himself into a spot at the conference table.
"Hey, Parvster," chided Taff. "Hope you're ready for a big week, and you're not just gonna throw pies in the dark again."
"What?" Parv bellowed.

The conference room door suddenly swung open and there he stood, the boss, ten minutes late, opting not to sit among the others, but rather, lording over everyone.
"Okay, people. Listen up. We're just here to touch base and make sure a few items are on our radar. I really hope each of you has arrived with his or her A-game this week, because we really need to get our ducks in a row. Now let's get to work."

Parv had no idea what his manager was talking about, but did he ever?

Oh, well. Time to return to his cubicle to see what's going on with Perez Hilton.

And for those who are interested, here's the list:

The survey found the Top 10 office annoyances were:
  • Grumpy or moody colleagues (37 percent)
  • Slow computers (36)
  • Small talk/gossip in the office (19)
  • The use of office jargon or management-speak (18)
  • People speaking loudly on the phone (18)
  • Too much health and safety in the work place (16)
  • Poor toilet etiquette (16)
  • People not turning up for meetings on time or at all (16)
  • People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen (15)
  • Too cold/cold air conditioning (15)
The most annoying jargon:
  • Thinking outside the box (21 percent)
  • Let's touch base (20)
  • Blue sky thinking (19)
  • Blamestorming (16) (sitting down and working out whose fault something is)
  • Drill down to a more granular level (15) (Look into something in more detail)
  • Let's not throw pies in the dark (15) (we need a plan rather than a haphazard approach)
  • I've got that on my radar (13)
  • Push the envelope (12)
  • Bring your A-game (11) (Be ready to do something to best of ability)
  • Get all your ducks in a row (11)

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