The intensification of the working day is familiar to anyone trying to keep their heads above water in the current cut-throat grind-teeth bump-knee chew-tongue finger-elbow climate brought on by head office’s opportunistic trouser-slashing under the prepuce of the recession. There’s nothing that any of us can do about it but smirk and bear it, but it is possible to soften the blow of those extra work hours and augmented productivity targets by incorporating strategies that don’t involve a shotgun, taking a Swiss Army knife to the boss’s tires, or hanging yourself and your family in the woods beside the lake, beneath the trees. Sherry Banting, CEO of MentalWorks Incorporated and author of Productive Screaming: How to Make the Best of the Worst Time of Your Life, offers these tips on rendering your working life as palatable as possible while contributing to the bottom line and keeping the suits at bay:
1: Always keep a spare pair of trousers in your drawer, Banting says, in case you get soaked on the way in to work or in case you’ve already used up the morning’s toilet breaks.
2: Have a few stress-busting gadgets to hand so you can work out your repressed rage. Banting recommends a Squeezy Ball, a desktop mini-beach or guillotine, a back- or ball-scratcher, a gumshield, a catapult, a taser, and/or a whittling stick.
3: For the more ambitious cubicle-dweller, a small Primus stove will enable you to cook light snacks at your desk and so avoid needless lunchbreaks. To avoid looking too competitive, make light of your behaviour by keeping the stove under your desk and pretending you’re camping. A Thermos of hot soup will reinforce the illusion. And dress up as a scout or girl guide.
4: Departmental heads shouldn’t be afraid to introduce an element of levity into the office, says Banting. Fucking about has been shown to increase productivity, as long as it’s only management that does it. Try masks of cartoon characters (but not those associated with any recent bank robberies). Avoid Venetian-style carnival masks unless you want to incite a full-blown orgy. Save them for Fridays. You should also keep joke books by the reception and require the receptionist to email a new joke every day to staff. They’ll really appreciate it and often respond in kind.
5: Save time at home in the mornings by bringing your breakfast into the office. Keep cereal boxes in the kitchen. Keep milk in the fridge. Brush your teeth in the water fountain.
6: A mid-afternoon cocktail is no longer frowned on in most continental offices, according to Banting. She recommends keeping a vase of artificial flowers on your desk, and instead of filling it with water, use vodka.
7: Turn the brightness on your screen up to full so that you have an excuse to wear shades. Then sleep whenever and for as long as you like. If anyone queries you, say you have a migraine and they should be grateful you’re in there at all. If they persist, says Banting, take a sickie.
8: Information technology has made it possible for everyone to communicate with one another without ever having to use their mouths. This is a saving that can be availed of by finding jobs for idle tongues, such as licking envelopes and stamps, taste tests, and washing desks/windows/PC screens. Such multitasking will reduce the workload in the long run, says Banting, no matter how unpalatable the work. We think she was trying to be funny.
9: Keep a pair of slippers for office use. Remove shoes and socks as soon as you get in to save unnecessary wear and tear. All static generated by walking around belongs to the company and can be used to power the delivery van or the hand dryer in the loos.
10: Some companies have already introduced manicures and pedicures for all staff, says Banting. The clippings are used to feed the Koi Carp in the foyer. Others employ hairdressers and barbers who will trim and style hair at the employee’s desk, while they work. Although the cost is covered by the company, Banting points out that this generosity generates goodwill among staff. Except among the bald ones.
11: Office outings to the circus are great for team morale and generally prove to be a fertile source of ideas for improving the workplace. “It’s surprising how much the two worlds overlap,” observes Banting.
12: The handicapped toilets and the nappy-changing area are convenient places to unpack and eat takeaway food. If the kitchen’s too crowded and you prefer peace and quiet anyway, why not invest in an “Out of Order” sign.
13: Don’t forget your footspa! You can usually plug it into one of the outlets that would only be wasted on a printer or defibrillator. Fire extinguishers make handy coat hangers too.
14: Intercourse with a co-worker is a handy way to release tension, sexual or otherwise, says Banting, as well as providing the kind of office gossip that is pure gold to HR. Try to be discreet, she advises. Fellatio is better performed under the boss’s desk rather than on top of it. And while the boss is somewhere else, such as the conference room.
15: Small whirring fans can be a constant irritation to some people, says Banting, but don’t discount the job they do in both dissipating unwanted smells and covering up embarrassing noises. Some people might need bigger ones.
16: Video conferencing is a great way to cut out unnecessary journeys. They also mean you can hold that important meeting with the sales manager from your bed. Just don’t distract him by masturbating while he’s trying to drive. And masturbate.
17: Small pets provide amusement and entertainment, as well as topics for conversation. They can also be put to work in the mailroom.
18: Put your children’s art works on the walls of the office, Banting says. They give the place a homely feel, save on decorating costs, and provide staff members with a source of impenetrable pride oblivious to their offsprings’ visual incontinence.
19: A dartboard in the canteen is ten times better than a suggestion box. But make sure it’s the Velcro kind. Some suggestions should not be acted upon.
20: Encourage staff to bring in cakes, sweets, biscuits, and other comestibles that they can share with colleagues. It’s usually best if they’re not home-made though, advises Banting. And individually wrapped portions are better for sharing. Nobody’s going to touch that piece of peanut brittle Gordon just broke up with his bare hands when they know he was wiping his arse only five minutes earlier, she says. In fact, best avoid anything with peanuts and toffee in.
Taken from the March/April edition of Working Stiff magazine.