Archive for November, 2011

5 Holiday Office Party No-Nos

Wage slaves, rejoice! It’s time once again to power down your computers, deck the office cubicles, and don your finest Santa hats. Tis the season for the annual holiday party, which, if you’re careful, is the most fun a person can expect to have in an office — sort of like a longer, more festive version of the cupcake break you get when someone has a birthday.

If you’re not careful, on the other hand, you can wind up with more than just a hangover and a terrible secret Santa present. Make one of these five mistakes, and your career won’t survive into the new year.

1. Drinking Too Much
This is always the first thing mentioned on these lists, and for good reason. Being the drunkest person at the party is guaranteed to make you an office legend, but not in the way you would prefer. Do yourself and your career a favor. Put down the eggnog before your holiday cheer turns to holiday tears — yours or the human resource department’s.

2. Saying Inappropriate Things
It’s easier to abide by this rule if you abide by the first rule, but even if you don’t over-imbibe, you can still run your mouth off and wreck your career. Don’t let the party atmosphere make you forget that you could be talking to someone important. CEOs don’t always enjoy being called “bro.”

3. Not Knowing to Whom You’re Speaking
And speaking of the CEO, it’s a good idea to know who he or she is. We’ve had multiple friends make the mistake of not identifying the important people at the party before they attended. Some of them are even still employed.

4. Dressing Inappropriately
“Work party” is something of an oxymoron. You’re either at work or you’re at a party — never at both at the same time. Your office holiday party is definitely work. Leave the club gear and party dresses at home, and make sure all your goods and services are fully covered.

5. Staying Too Long
If your work party is after hours and outside of your office building, it’s harder than ever to remember that it’s a work function. Plan to leave at a reasonable hour and you’ll minimize the temptation to become the life of the party … and the death of your career.


5 Tips for Online Holiday Shopping From Your Office Cubicle

The holiday shopping season has hit like a ton of fruitcake and you’re stuck in your cubicle watching the days ’til Christmas tick by faster than faster than a paper jam in that vintage copy machine.

If you’ve considered spending a few extra minutes at work shopping online to cross some extra names off your list, you’re not alone.

According to research from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, 32 percent of employees plan to complete some holiday shopping using employer-issued technology (either computers or mobile devices).

A whopping 40 percent of women ages 18 to 54 shop an average of 15-30 minutes a day at work – with busy moms shopping for even longer periods online, according to AOL Advertising.

But a word to the wise to all you holiday multitaskers: your boss isn’t too happy about your extracurricular activities during office hours.

Up to 60 percent of employers will be cracking down on employees shopping online during the holidays, according to a survey of 1,400 companies conducted by Robert Half Technology that was reported on by the Baltimore Sun. This number is up from 48 percent of companies that blocked access to online shopping sites last year.

Twenty-three percent of employers said they will allow employees access to these sites, but plan to monitor them for excessive use.

According to the survey, employers expect that their workers to spend more than four hours a week surfing for online deals this holiday season. No wonder they want to be vigilant!

Lost productivity isn’t the only thing employers are concerned about. According to the ISACA, using company computers or mobile devices puts businesses at a greater risk for viral internet threats, including malware and phishing schemes.

While searching for to-good-to-be-true deals, employees are more likely to click on dubious e-mail links or share personal information on unverified websites. What’s more, two-thirds of participants in an ISACA survey said they don’t use secure browsing technology on their work-issued devices – half assumed that the IT department would handle any security problems.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you start shopping online from your desk:

1. Your boss is watching you. Three quarters of all U.S. employers monitor employee internet use, according to surveys by the American Management Association and other groups. If you are planning on doing any shopping during the work day, we suggest only bargain hunting on your lunch break and sticking to rated G sites (as in, skip buying that edible underwear for your fiance).

2. Know your company’s policies. Your bosses and the IT department are legally permitted to track how you’re spending your time online at work and are allowed to block your access to certain sites from work computers. If there is a written company policy on using office equipment, be sure to read up to make sure you’re not violating any rules by making bids on eBay or cashing in on free shipping from Best Buy. Oh, and don’t complain to the IT guy when all of the sudden you can’t access Find out if there are sites or hours you should avoid shopping.

3. Use your own device. Rather than risk your work-issued laptop or mobile device, stick to making any online purchases on your own computer or phone. But again, this doesn’t give you carte blanch to spend four hours of your shift maxing out your credit card; try to limit your shopping to lunch breaks, and if you do start creeping into work hours, be sure to make up the time by staying late or coming in early. Remember, the big guy is watching to see who’s been naughty or nice.

4. Buy, don’t browse. If your company is kind enough to overlook a little non-work-related internet use, don’t take advantage. Stick to making quick online purchases rather than endless browsing. Save the homework part of your holiday shopping for home.

5. Be safe. Don’t get yourself into hot water by crashing a company computer while visiting a disreputable site. The ISACA offered the following tips for protecting a company network when using a work computer or mobile device to shop:

• Do not click on an email or web link from an unfamiliar sender, or one that looks “too good to be true”.

• Be careful with company information that can be accessed through your mobile device (it suggests using a privacy screen shield).

• Password-protect your mobile device and its memory card.

• Make sure the security tools and processes protecting your work-supplied mobile devices are kept up to date.

Photo courtesy of Sqback on stock.xchng

5 Tips for an Amazing Holiday Party, On the Cheap

Someday, when the economy turns around, we will all go back to throwing huge, expensive, party-like-it’s-1999 holiday parties. There will be elephants, and perhaps a parade, and almost certainly a chocolate fountain. In fact, when the economy turns, we will have that installed in our office — no holiday required.

For now, we’re stuck with a budget holiday bash. This does not mean, however, that we’re going to be forced to share supermarket cupcakes and drink out of brown paper bags in our office cubicles. With a little ingenuity, you can have an awesome holiday party without spending a fortune. Here’s how to do it:

1. Organize a Potluck

We never used to be huge fans of the potluck, which seemed to us like an excuse to make other people throw a party for you. A potluck holiday party from the beginning of the recession changed our mind.

Everyone in our office brought their favorite dish from home. Since this was a department full of creatives, we wound up with the best late-night snack foods of all time. It was basically a groaning board full of everything upon which one could place cheese. Best party ever.

The secret to the office potluck is to get a few people on board right away. If you have a few key folks who take it seriously and get excited, it’s much easier to convince other people to bring in their most delicious treats.

2. Buy Supplies in Bulk
This seems like a gimme, but you’d be surprised at how much money offices waste buying things at full price. Team up with another department or company and head to one of the big box stores to buy plates, napkins, party favors, and so on. You’ll than you would have going to the local party store two hours before the big bash.

3. Do Lunch Instead of Dinner
It’s usually cheaper to plan a lunch than it is to plan a dinner. Restaurants charge a lot more for the premium time slots, and you can have just as much fun during the day as you can in the evening. Maybe more, since most employees are super excited to get out of work during the day, especially to attend a party. You might even find that attendance is better during the day than it was at night.

4. Every Hour Is Happy Hour
The same principle applies to planning cocktail hours. Bars will often give you a discount if you come earlier in the day, when they’re not as crowded, and people love the novelty of getting out of work a little early (or even right on the dot of five) to party during the afternoon.

The only downside to this plan is that people sometimes get a little too wasted if you plan a drinking function during the day. You know your team, so plan accordingly.

5. Have a Holiday Party in February
If you really want to save money, plan your big company party for a less popular month. February is a really cheap time to do a ‘do, and people need the break more during the height of the winter doldrums than they do in December, when every other day boasts another holiday party.

Images: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5.

The 10 Craziest Holiday Office Decorations

During the holiday season, the average cubicle dweller might tack up a stocking on his used office furniture or throw up a string of blinky lights on her wall. Maybe someone will even go the extra mile and put out a bowl of candy canes for passersby.

If someone is a little more festive, he might don a pair of headphones and listen to that radio station that plays Christmas music 24-7. Sure he has the holiday spirit – but he doesn’t want to shove it down his co-worker’s throats.

However, the folks behind the following office decorations are not your average cubicle dwellers. They not only embrace the Christmas spirit, they paid for its college tuition and bought it a new Range Rover (topped with a big red bow, of course).

They’re the ones who arrive at work the Monday after Thanksgiving wearing jingle bell necklaces, tacky holiday sweaters and a Santa hat that they only take off (begrudgingly) on Dec. 26.

Go grab another glass of egg nog, pull up your chair and get inspired by the possibilities for the Christmas decor in your office this year.

Here are the top 10 craziest holiday office decorations:

1. I’m Dreaming of a Clean Christmas


Admittedly, this guy has a cleanliness problem. We’re pretty sure there’s fruitcake from a couple years ago buried under those boxes and we’re not too confident about the freshness of those candy canes on the corner of his desk, either. Still, you gotta love the fact that, despite his inability to maintain even the smallest amount of order on his desk, he took the time to create such a charming holiday scene on his wall – complete with giant candy, a 3-D gingerbread house and a bikini-clad gingerbread lady (yowzas!). Of course, he could have just gone the route of our next guy – and simply covered up the mess.

Gingerbread Mess Puuikibeach on Flickr

2. Away in a Cubicle


This person didn’t let the fact that she was evidently surrounded by an office full of grinches deter her from sharing the Christmas spirit Clark Griswold-style. More power too her (literally – how much electricity is she sucking up?)! There’s no such thing as too many lights – especially when they’re covering up all that pesky work you’re forced to do.

Cubicle Lights courtesy of

3. There’s No Place Like Work for the Holidays


If all that overtime has you feeling like you see more of your office than your house, why not just bring your house to you? We applaud the brilliant use of Christmas lights to create that glowing roof and we’re impressed by the extra steps this person took by wrapping the ceiling tiles in red, too. We’re pretty sure HR won’t be happy about the web of extension cords on the floor (that’s a tripping hazard!) and our grandma is pretty mad that you stole her lit Santa and Mrs. Claus statues.

Santa Claus Lights courtesy of

4. Oh Brewski Tree, Oh Brewski Tree!

This conference room beer tree is not only a display of ingenuity (we love the beer case star topping this tannenbaum), but also bravery. After all, as soon as this person’s boss finds this little homage to drunken yuletide revery, he’s probably going to start reviewing some security tape to find out what his employees are doing after hours. He might also ask the same question we have: What happened to Santa’s legs?

Beer tree Jeremy Vandel on Flickr

5. All I Want For Christmas Is a Brand New Desk


Who wouldn’t want to walk into work only to find all of their boring, old office supplies replaced by colorful presents? We’re guessing this guy will be living the dream until he starts unwrapping those aforementioned boring, old office supplies. Bah humbug indeed.

Wrapped desk AussieGold on Flickr

6. Here Comes Creepy Claus

Judging by the decoration choices this guy made, we get the distinct feeling he’s not really expressing his love of the holidays so much as his love of disturbing dummies. We’re sure Santa is a big Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, but we’re not as convinced he’d appreciate the crumpled up Doritos bags being used as Christmas ornaments on that tree. The next person who walks into this cube might just have a nightmare before Christmas.

Creepy Santa amcclung on Flickr

7. Walking in an Office Wonderland


If “Project Runway’s” Tim Gunn were to walk into this office, we have a feeling he’d say “Hmm, that’s a lot of look.” While we admire their thoroughness and apparent enthusiasm for sparkly things, we can’t help but feeling that the entire “trim-a-tree” section of the local Walmart just threw up in here.

Tinsel Town courtesy of Queen Bee Blog

8. The Island of Re-Gifted Toys


These guys wanted to make sure everyone in the office from Accounting to Sales knew exactly where they could drop off gifts for the holiday toy drive. That’s why they festooned their little office nook with the very festive gift-wrapped walls, candy canes, red and green balloons, and, uh, palm tree fronds (hey! maybe they’re Floridians). Bonus points for a wall-eye shot that makes Christmas in the Islands look oh-so inviting.

Toys courtesy of Queen Bee Blog

9. I’ll Be Here for Christmas

Sometimes it’s not enough just to hang up a giant candy cane and call it a day. Sometimes you have to re-create an entire street-scape from a beloved holiday movie to really get in the spirit. Who cares that everyone now has to duck to get in and out of their cubicles? Heck, they don’t even have to go home for the holidays – these guys brought home to them. Can everyone say overtime?

Brick Houses courtesy of

10. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World – Candy!)

We think employees should approach this office with caution. For one, the delectable treats adorning those walls will probably send you on an hour-long sugar rush before leaving you to crash on your keyboard in a post-candy-feast afternoon slump. And secondly, anyone ever hear of “Hansel & Gretel”? How do you know there isn’t some bitter co-worker in there waiting to throw you in an oven and eat your for lunch – or worse, force you to organize the office holiday party?

Gingerbread Cubicle courtesy of AndrewCanion on Flickr

10 Awesome Office Holiday Party Ideas

Office workers spend 11 months of the year slogging away in an office cubicle, filing TPS reports, and dodging conference calls. It’s no wonder that most look forward to the holidays, the one time of year when employees can let their hair down, eat too much free food, and maybe, if they’re lucky, throw one heck of a party. Here are 10 of the best holiday party ideas the interwebs have to offer.

1. Wear Stupid Hats
Whatever else you do, you should do this: Provide a dumb hat for every employee. People might start out reluctant to swap their pride for cookies and punch, but eventually, almost everyone caves. Think of the pictures you can snap for the company calendar.

2. Yankee Swap
Are we still allowed to call a party a “Yankee Swap,” or is that somewhat biased against people from Connecticut? Anyway, if you want to see your coworkers duke it out over the punchbowl, the best way to do it is to organize a Yankee Swap.

3. “The Office” Themed Office Party
Every office has a weirdo. Convince yours to dress up like the weirdest weirdo of all time, Dwight Schrute. Elf hats required; homemade neti pot optional.

4. Fax Machine Pinata
Want to put a smile on your employees’ faces? Give them sticks and let them beat all holy heck out of some obsolete office equipment (i.e. every fax machine you have). You know they don’t work.

5. Bake-Off
The best thing about the holidays is that it’s an excuse to eat everything in sight. If you can make your coworkers bake for you, so much the better. Take our advice and organize the bake-off. Then you can volunteer as a judge and skip the whole part where you actually make something.

6. Office Sing-Along
Now that everyone is full of baked goods and wearing a stupid hat, it’s time to enforce the mandatory fun rule and get folks singing. This is easier if you go the full karaoke route and haul out the Guns ‘N Roses catalogue. Listen, you have your Christmas carols and we have ours.

7. Decorate a Tree
Some offices skip the tree out a fear of offending people. We say, keep the tree and just go with neutral decorations. Nothing levels the playing field like watching the CEO try to thread a tree hanger through an ornament.

8. Bring out the Booze
We know, we know: All the experts say that alcohol and company parties are a dangerous mix. Still, having attended many office holiday parties with alcohol (and one interminable party without), we can tell you that dealing with crankypants coworkers is probably worse that dealing with tipsy ones. Spring for the trash barrel full of beer.

9. Dance Party
Here’s another reason to take our last suggestion: It makes it easier to follow this suggestion. Which makes it easier to obtain blackmail material in advance of your next review. (Camera phones are amazing inventions.)

10. Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget Santa
It isn’t a holiday party without Santa. Elect your favorite (or least favorite) coworker to don the suit and beard and take gift requests. Or you can all just dress up. Remember: If one Santa is good, more Santas are better.

Images: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10.

10 Holiday Decorating Ideas for Your Office Cubicle

Holidays are the most fun time to work at an office. There are loads of baked goods in the break room and lots of excuses to cancel meetings in favor of impromptu parties. Also, it’s a great reason to decorate your cubicle. (Sometimes with candy.)

1. Cubicle Village
For those of us who always wanted to live in the winter village at the local mall, these office cubicles covered in wrapping paper are the ultimate holiday decorating scheme. Also, they have fake roofs. Who hasn’t wished for a roof to their cube?

2. Cubicle Menorah
What’s better than a menorah for your cubicle? How about a menorah with a fan in it? You can observe Hanukkah and stay cool at the same time. Excellent for use in offices that turn the heat on in October and just leave it cranked up all winter long.

3. Cubicle Kinara
Bring Kwanzaa to your cubicle with this display, including a kinara, cup, corn, and decorative mat.

4. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree
charlie brown christmas tree office
The Charlie Brown Christmas special was the highlight of many of our childhoods, to the point where we didn’t really even identify it with a specific holiday. It was sort of its own annual event. Now you can recreate that in your cubicle with your own sad little Christmas tree. As Lucy would say, “What a tree!”

5. Gift Wrapped Cubicle
Do you think every day in your office is a gift? No? Well, maybe some festive wrapping paper would change your mind.

6. Gift Wrapped Desk
The only thing funnier than a gift wrapped cubicle is a gift wrapped desk. Combine the two, and you have a holiday prank that would make Dwight Schrute quail in his boots.

7. Fake Snow
Fake snow is the best kind of snow. It’s still pretty, it’s not cold, and you never have to shovel it. (OK, at the end of the holiday season, you might want to get rid of it. But then you can just borrow a vacuum cleaner from maintenance and avoid the whole back strain issue entirely.)

8. Candy Cubicle
OK, this isn’t necessarily a holiday-themed cubicle, but candy always puts us in a festive mood. If we had this cubicle, we would work overtime. So take note of that, employers.

9. He’s Making a List
Want to remind your coworkers that Santa is always watching? Put the merry old elf and all eight of his of reindeer on your cubicle wall. Great for making your next-door neighbor nervous about stealing your stapler.

10. Gingerbread Cubicle
This is where the witch in Hansel and Gretel would live if she were a mid-level manager at your company. The gingerbread cubicle looks delicious, but still tastes like recycled reports. Just a reminder.

Image: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10.

The Coolest Office Post-It Art

It’s rare to walk into a workplace that doesn’t have at least one computer, cubicle or piece of used office furniture that’s covered in those ubiquitous, technicolor sticky notes.

They remind the average co-worker to do everything from filing an expense report to calling back a complaining customer. Even with the advent of the digital age with all of its tablet computers and smartphones, Post-Its don’t seem to be going away.

In fact, there are plenty of creative office denizens out there who see the colorful squares of stationery as the perfect medium to express themselves (more on that later).

But did you know that Post-It notes didn’t always come in such a wide array of colors (pinks, blues, greens, and oranges – oh my!)

Back in 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, an American chemist, developed a reusable, “pressure sensitive adhesive” while working for 3M. For a long time nobody knew quite what to do with it … that is, until Silver held a seminar attended by his colleague Arthur Fry, who had long dreamed of a bookmark he could anchor in place on his church hymnal. A metaphorical choir of angels sang as Fry decided he could use Silver’s not-too-sticky adhesive to create Press ‘N Peel, which 3M launched in stores in 1977.

The Press ‘N Peel notes didn’t take off, but 3M still thought there might be a market for the product, so they relaunched it in 1980 under the name Post-It Notes, and a business was born.

Here’s some more Post-It Lore:

- The original canary color was picked as an afterthought – the lab next to the Post-It folks had scrap yellow paper that they used to create the product and it stuck!

- It would take 506,880,000 Post-It Notes to circle the world once (probably about the same number you use to remind yourself to water the office fern).

- Fashion designer Isle Vitolina once created a line of avant-garde evening wear – including a wedding gown – made from Post-It Notes.

- A Post-It Note was once found clinging to the nose of an airplane that had made a flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis, traveling at speeds up to 500 miles per hour in temperatures of -56 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now back to that Post-It art. Let’s take a look at some of the less … errr … conventional uses for the sticky squares.

It looks like someone is trying to send Walt a message. Hopefully he cleans up that Jag a little before hitting his executive lunch.

If the walls in your office are looking a little dull and the budget for office decoratives is nonexistent, it might be time to raid the supply cabinet. Just don’t get caught sticky-handed!

Why not pay tribute to your boss with a personalized paper portrait? (As a side note, this is the only time Ray Charles will ever look square.)


A sure sign that the office geek is running amok: Ms. Pac-Man-themed Post-It art. (Post-Its sure are well-suited for pixelated ’80s video game art, right?)


A true starving artist can’t afford those big, fancy canvases. Instead, he can express himself on tiny pieces of paper – plus no need to buy any hanging mechanisms. (And anyway, that angry, fork-toting hot dog would be pretty terrifying on a bigger piece of paper).

We don’t know why, but looking out this window gives us the sudden urge to eat a mushroom and stomp on a koopa trooper.


Here’s a sure sign that you might have trouble unwinding after work. Plus, we’re a little concerned about getting paper cuts in odd places after sitting on that couch.

This is a good reminder to lock your office door before leaving on vacation. Next time, leave yourself a note.


Another Post-It-covered office: this time from a less thorough, although perhaps more anal-retentive prankster.


This makes us think that the guy sitting in the back of the conference room wasn’t actually taking notes during that last staff meeting.

10 Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas For Your Office Cubicle

We won’t lie: The best part of Thanksgiving is definitely the part where you get to eat pie until it comes out of your ears. The second best part, however, is having an excuse to decorate your office cubicle with something more than just the unfiled paperwork that you’ve been ignoring since last Turkey Day. Here are 10 ways to do just that.

1. Thanksgiving Signs
This is probably the absolute easiest way to decorate your cubicle. It’s a two-step process, basically: step 1: buy a sign; step 2: Hang the sign. And you’re done.

2. You Can Never Have Too Many Gourds
Gourds are the gateway drug of cubicle decoration. You start out with just one — a mini pumpkin, maybe, or one of those spotted green gourds that looks like a Hanna-Barbara character with a skin condition. Before you know it, you have to type out in the hallway because you have 47 decorative bowls full of gourds and nowhere to put your laptop.

3. Live Turkeys
Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkeys, and while some people prefer to rely on artistic representations based on the outline of their hands, we always vote for authenticity. Note: If you do this, you will totally be fired. Also, there might be some kind of problem with ASPCA, we’re not sure.

4. Fake Turkeys
This is probably a safer bet for folks who want a turkey-themed cubicle without the muss, fuss, feathers, turkey poo, and possible jail time involved in stuffing a cubicle full of turkeys. If you get enough of these, and put them in a friend’s cubicle during his lunch break, you’ll also get all of the shock value of live birds.

5. Turkey Lights
OK, last turkey thing, we promise. But wouldn’t your cubicle look so much better with a couple of strings of turkey-shaped lights? It totally would.

6. A Million Things With Pilgrims on Them
If you’re looking for pilgrim-themed decorations, you are in luck: We did a tally, and there are at least 27 bazillion things with pilgrims on them, for sale on the internet right now. You can probably fit about 30 of them in your cubicle before your neighbors call HR and ask for an intervention.

7. Pie-Shaped Candles
Yes, you read that correctly. These are candles, shaped like little slices of pie. These should actually be in your cubicle all year round.

8. Cranberries
Actual cranberry sauce always seems like a waste of time. Why eat cranberry sauce when you can stuff your face with meat and carbs? Fake cranberries, on the other hand, make great cubicle decorations.

9. A Dining Room
We’ve always liked the look of cubicles with faux wallpaper on them, but we never knew why until right now. It’s because they look like tiny little dining rooms. Look at this picture and tell us that you don’t think the third course is on its way.

10. Family Photos
Of course, Thanksgiving is about more than turkey and pie. It’s also about your family, who might be persuaded to provide you with turkey and pie. So hang up some pictures of them. You know you’ve been meaning to frame those photos anyway.

Images: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10.

How to Decorate Your Office for the Holidays Without Offending Anyone

Pumpkins are now rotting away in a garbage pile. The memory of your “Jersey Shore” costume malfunction while dressed up as Snookie is slowly fading out of your co-workers’ memories. And all but a few stale Jolly Ranchers are left from your Halloween loot. This can only mean one thing: It’s time to starting decorating for the holidays.


(Photo courtesy of Fcrippa on Flickr)

But before you race to erect that 8-foot-tall pink Christmas tree – complete with matching pink sequined angel – in your cubicle, it’s best to heed some basic protocol for in-office decorations.

After all, your goal is to inject a little seasonal cheer for yourself and your co-workers – not to install a potential fire hazard or offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

Most offices allow the decorating of both public and personal space … to some degree.

The International Facility Management Association – a research and educational organization with 20,000 members worldwide – conducted a survey on office decorating in 2006.

They found that a whopping 93 percent of survey responders decorated their offices for the holidays. And, 57 percent spent between $500 and $5,000 on office decorations.

While a majority of companies do some sort of holiday decorating, most of them have also heard complaints about it. The survey found that 85 percent of companies that do decorate their offices have had to change policies as a result of complaints about holiday decorating.

Cheri Baker, owner of Emergence Consulting in Seattle, blogged about the thankless job of sending out the annual “Holiday Policy” e-mail, which details what constitutes “appropriate workplace decor.”

One year, when employees were encouraged to put up “non-religious” items like trees and snowmen the barrage of angry reactions included:

- “Christmas trees are Christian, and therefore religious.”

- “Trees are symbols of pagan traditions, and therefore not secular.”

- “You can’t take the Christ out of Christmas no matter how hard you try.”

- “I hope that you in HR have a good ‘holiday’ even though you’ve sucked all of the joy out of our lives by telling us what we can and cannot do for our “holiday” celebrations. Scrooges!”

This year, instead of adding to the HR team’s holiday heartburn, we suggest staying under the “obnoxious, over-the-top holiday decor” radar by following these do’s and don’ts:

- Check in with your supervisor or with HR to make sure you’re allowed to decorate your personal space.

- Decorate before or after your scheduled shift, or on your lunch break.

- Use lights rated for indoor use and check to make sure no wires are exposed or frayed, or that any bulbs are broken. Look for smaller, more energy-efficient lights with an Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) approval rating.

- Respect your neighbor’s space. Don’t allow your garland to stray into your co-worker’s cube or aggravate their allergies with your gingerbread-scented potpourri.

- Unplug lights or animated displays at the end of the day.

- Keep any overtly religious displays within the confines of your personal space. Outside your cubicle, opt for Frosty the Snowman or snowflakes.

- Make your decorations tasteful. You don’t want to be the Clark Griswold of your office. Skip the inflatable Santa snow globe and the model train display. Instead look for ways to incorporate seasonal colors onto your walls (think festive wrapping paper) and personal touches like a small tree or menorah.


- Assume that everyone enjoys Christmas Carols as much as you do. If you want to listen to that radio station that plays “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” 40 times an hour, wear headphones.

- Allow your decorations to distract you from getting your job done. Skip hanging up that fish that sings “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” every time someone walks by your desk.

- Create a potential fire hazard. If you’re using a fake tree, make sure it is carries a UL or FM approval rating. Water live trees regularly so they don’t dry out (another fire hazard). Make sure not to overload plugs at your desk or in common areas.

- Route cords through doorways or under rugs, which can create a walking hazard.

- Hang decorations on or near sprinklers, exit signs or smoke detectors.

Tree photo courtesy of aussiegold on Flickr

Desk photo courtesy of vmiramontes on Flickr

A Pay-as-You-Go Office?

oficioThanks to mobile technology, lightning-fast internet, and our ever-evolving work culture, many people no longer have to actually “go to work” in order to go to work.

Others have embraced co-working spaces or other shared office scenarios. But what if you can’t always work at home, and sharing an office full-time doesn’t work for you?

In that case, can we recommend the pay-as-you-go office? Oficio, a new kind of shared office environment, operates out of a 2,500-foot space in Boston, Mass. The brainchild of entrepreneurs Nima Yadollahpour and Charlie Weisman, Oficio rents office space by the day, the week, even the hour — espresso included.

The company was inspired by the needs of its creators. Yadollahpour is an architect who went into business for himself a few years back, but found himself going stir-crazy working out of a home office. Weisman is a filmmaker who tired of cadging free WiFi from Starbucks.

The pay plan is tiered: five days a month will run you $99, while full-time access is $299 per month. Yadollahpour compares it to a gym membership, but we only wish our gym was this accommodating. Oficio also offers accounting and legal services for members who stay for six months.

Who is the ideal Oficio customer? Anyone who wants the occasional structure of office cubicles or conference rooms is welcome. But a few professions will feel especially comfortable in this type of environment:

1. Business Travelers

Oficio has been open for a little over a month, and already has 24 regular customers. But some of its traffic is from visitors to Boston who just need a temporary office space.

2. Accountants

The Patriot Ledger profile on Oficio specifically mentions home-based accountants, who are able to do the bulk of their work at home, but still want occasional meeting space to get together with clients.

3. Creative Types

Are you a graphic artist? A freelance writer? Something amazingly complicated in the technology world that we don’t even understand yet, but won’t be able to live without in five years? This kind of environment might be just what you’re looking for. Bonus points if you’re an entrepreneurial type and need the kind of flexibility this situation provides.

Image: Oficio