Thursday, June 28, 2007


In celebration of Can't-Be-Fucked-Thursday, I'd like to discuss a matter close to my heart - a matter, which effects us all, and has the potential to make CBF Thursdays a whole lot less crap. That's right... office etiquette. When applied correctly, office etiquette will help prevent Shithouse Wednesday from being quite so shithouse. Mondays and Tuesdays are written off - that's a given - but we can work together to make the rest of the week marginally enjoyable, or at the very least, slightly less crap. Proper midweek office etiquette will generally mean you drink less on the applicable Wednesday night, making getting up and going to work on CBF Thursday a whole lot less painful, and obviously vastly improving your mood for the day.

But I digress. The reality is of course that a great deal of us spend our days stuck in a large, densely populated, off-white (or perhaps beige-ish), brightly lit, poorly airconditioned germ-cubes generally known as offices. We can pretend its pleasant, and we can cover our desk with stickynotes and cheap trinkets, and we can even send timewasting passive aggressive emails back and forth about the state of the communal fridge, but frankly we would all much rather be doing this from home in the unwashed comfort of our bunny slippers and underwear. And the depressing thing is that we know full well that we all could be doing our work from home, if it weren't for the bizarre delusions of managers whose entire lives are justified entirely by the wearing of bad ties and endless wandering of a overly brightly lit maze of shambolic cubicles. I guess they figure if they can't actually see us here, then we really don't exist at all. Maybe it's some sort of throwback to ye olde English times of noblemen tooling about the countryside surveying their peasant armies or somesuch. Hmm.

Anyway. Back to the whole etiquette thing. Etiquette is good. It makes our lives better and less unpleasant. It helps us to forget just how long we spend in the company of people we don't like nor have any chosen connection with. I hear it also solves world hunger and leads to higher quality lolcats. So here's a bunch of steps that should get you well on your way.

Right. Most of us use elevators to get where they need to be on a daily basis. I can only think of one job where I didn't, so it's fairly safe to assume that these contraptions are a widely used necessary evil in these days of internally locked stairwells and rather tall buildings. The problem with elevators of course, is people. This problem can be largely avoided by following the dictates of elevator etiquette -

If you're getting on for a rather short ride, stand to the front - don't shove your way to the back, then shove your way back to the front to get off again. It's rude and exceedingly stupid.

Don't run at the closing doors of a crowded lift and force them open and jump in. Just wait for the next one. It's really not all that difficult.

Don't press 6 different floor buttons on the panel because you're not sure where you're going. Press one, get off at that floor, and find out where you're really meant to be going. By the way, is it really that fucking hard to know where you're going before you get there? Or did you just assume you were visiting the only building in the city that had only one floor? Dickhead.

Don't get into an occupied lift and then hold the doors open while you finish your conversation with someone down the hallway.

Don't try to chat to people you don't know. Even if you see them in the lift every fucking day of the week, stick with a friendly nod, or at most, an obligatory comment about the crap weather.

By all means, drink coffee in the elevator, but don't unpackage and eat food. It's just going to be smelly and potentially messy.

If your elevators have mirrors in them, it's really poor form to groom yourself in them while there's someone else in the lift. A quick fix of the hair? Cool. Fixing your pants, inspecting the size of your belly, and taking a good look at your tongue? Not cool. In fact, really fucking gross.

The work experience kid.
It's work experience week, and chances are there's some year 10 kid wandering around your office aimlessly, simultaneously looking bored and confused. No one knows who the kid belongs to, or what it's meant to be doing. Chances are it's meant to be doing nothing, since no one has the time/energy to actually teach it anything, and there are no tasks that you could give it that couldn't potentially end with the statement "You thought giving a task we pay a highly qualified *job role* 50K a year to a hormonal 15 year old would be a good idea why?". Office etiquette runs several ways with this one - the kid probably isn't your responsibility, so you can continue ignoring it without feeling bad. If you feel so inclined however, you can probably send the kid home or get it to fetch coffee for you without treading on peoples toes, given that no one will actually want to do anything with it. If you are the unfortunate supervisor of this kid, you can serve your office well by taking the time to set the kid up at a computer and show them your website rotation and maybe a few Flash game sites. Best to get them prepared early on in life.

Office toilets.
This is an important one - one which so many people get so very, very wrong, despite the perceived simplicity of the everyday mundane task that it is. The first, and most important rule, is that unless you're drunk (in which case you should be at the pub, and not the office), there is never any valid reason to be holding a discussion with coworkers when in a cubicle (and I'm told at a urinal). In fact, it's just really weird. So are the people who immediately stop doing what they're doing and try to pretend they're not there when someone else walks in... why are you embarrassed?! What the hell do you think we're in there to do?! Hold a fucking tea party?! Jesus christ.

Other than that, make sure you don't leave any nasty messes (I'd have thought that would be easy, but apparently it's not), and please don't take food or drinks into the toilets. Water bottles? Whatever. Steaming cups of coffee? Sandwiches? No. It's a craparium, not a cafe. For christs' sake, grow a sense of hygiene.

People from your floor that you encounter outside the office (including the lift).
These can be awkward moments. You may feel like you should acknowledge this person by engaging in conversation with them, yet you have no interest in them or anything they're involved with. Don't worry - they probably feel exactly the same way about you. Mark the occasion with a polite nod of acknowledgment, and don't open your trap. If they ask 'How are you today', remember, it's obligatory - they don't actually care how you are, nor what your day has been like. Respond with a simple "Good thanks, yourself?".

Halls, doors and other obstacles.
Guys, just so you know, you actually don't have to open the door for women anymore. I know it might seem like some sort of grand chivalrous gesture or something, but in this crazy, topsy-turvy world of doors requiring swipe-cards your well meaning action just gets in the way and turns yet another simple task into an awkward twister-like attempt to get where you need to be. Besides, we can open doors ourselves these days. Think of it as a sign of our flourishing independence as a gender... Today, we open our own doors; tomorrow we stop doing the dishes.

Also - don't panic when a woman opens a door for you. It's just a nice gesture towards you as a person, not some sort of sneaky undermining of your masculinity (I think this might just be a problem in IT departments though).

Now, to hallways and other areas of common passage. If you stand around in a cluster in a hallway, making passage damned near impossible, either be sensible and disperse when you see someone approaching who you suspect may want to pass, or; don't be surprised when you end up wearing your coffee and pick up a black eye somewhere along the way. I know this is a consequence that'll never actually happen, but it damned well should. Naughty.

My last word of advice to you on this matter is regarding chairs, whiteboards, and other roaming items equipped with wheels. Long story short, don't go to someone's desk with a chair and wander off leaving it there. It's disturbing to turn around and find you've been ambushed by chairs. It can really shake your confidence as an office-ninja, too.

Anyway. That's about it for this lengthy diatribe. My office 'neighbours' are currently standing on their desks and sticking sheets of paper to the roof, with the apparent aim of making them ripple in the wake of the air conditioner air. It's noisy and annoying, and I'm quietly biding my time so I can remove them and steal their chairs. I may also have to steal their lunch.

Happy CBF Thursday!


Fandango Jones said...


Bathroom talkers should go piss out in the bloody street if they so badly want to be sociable while voiding their bowels. That goes doubly for people who answer their phone while taking a dump, and tripley (!) for those twats who wander in to the toilet while already deep in conversation on their mobile. Gah!

cj said...

Work experience kids should be allowed free range in your office, all the alcohol, cigarettes and internet nasties you can supply so that they decide that work is much superior than school. I will supply anyone who needs to know with a list of Yr 10's I could do without seeing next term...