Archive for November, 2011

The 3 Greenest Offices in America

In previous posts, we’ve shown you how to make your office greener, talked about how to choose environmentally-friendly office cubicle gifts, and even looked at an environmentally-oriented group that opted not to recycle its office furniture. Now, because it’s more fun to discuss possibilities, let’s talk about what some offices are already doing right. Here, in no particular order, are three U.S. companies that are already saving the planet.

1. IBM

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This one shocked us, too. How can IBM, the company that’s synonymous in our minds with giant mega-computers and reams of old school printer paper, possibly be the greenest company of 2011? It turns out, the company has been way ahead of government requirements in terms of environmental policy and disclosure; for instance, they had requirements for underground storage containers in 1979, a full six years before the EPA demanded it.

2. Adobe Systems

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Does your office engage in studies to determine whether or not it’s more wasteful to use one big container of creamer in the break room vs. many individual creamers? If not, quail before the mighty example of Adobe Systems, which takes its recycling very seriously. Their offices are also, of course, LEED-certified. In 2006, they were “the greenest corporate building on record in the United States,” according to CNN.

3. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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With a name like that, this unit of the U.S. Department of Energy better be pretty darn green. NREL has committed to building only sustainable green buildings. Their goal is to exceed gold level LEED certification. They’re also aiming for net zero — in this case, not an internet provider whose ads haunted your TV a few years back, but rather the state of not requiring any power at all from the grid. At which point, they will presumably solve world hunger and end war, too.

Cubicle Porn: 5 Videos of People Quitting Their Jobs in Fantastic Ways

Everyone knows you shouldn’t watch actual porn in your office, unless it’s your life’s ambition to be both fired and brought up on charges in the same hour. Thankfully, the best kind of cubicle porn involves fully clothed people doing things that are (technically) totally safe for work. They are, in fact, merely videos of people quitting their jobs. Behold, the most awesome quitting videos the internet has to offer.

1. Hotel Worker Quits With the Help of Some Friends

When Joey DeFrancesco tired of working 19-hour shifts at his hotel job, he didn’t just hand in his notice. He handed in his notice, and then had a brass band play him out with a cheery little celebration ditty. More than 2 million people have viewed this video on YouTube. Our favorite part is the prominent sign bragging: “THIS DEPARTMENT HAS WORKED THREE DAYS WITHOUT A LOST TIME ACCIDENT.” Sounds like an awesome place to work.

2. Thus Spake Zarathustra

OK, this looks hilarious when you watch it on YouTube, but if anyone ever came into our office with a boombox and a crazed look in his eye and started taking off his clothes, we would immediately get up and head for the nearest exit. This could have gone horribly, horribly wrong. (Still, oddly enough, fairly safe for work.)

3. The Best Way to Quit McDonald’s? Flip Out

Throw your fries in air like you just don’t care. “I’m moving in four days,” says the quitter in this video. “So I really don’t care about this job anymore.” The best part is watching his former coworkers stare at him. The worst part is imagining someone cleaning up.

4. Quitting via Whiteboard

This video, in which an attractive lady tells off her boss and then quits via a series of whiteboard messages, turned out to be a hoax. But it’s still one of the most awesome quits we’ve ever seen.

5. Any Dummy Can Work Here

If quitting via whiteboard doesn’t work for you, what about quitting in a word bubble? That’s what this guy did, making a life-size cardboard cut-out of himself, complete with a cartoon thought balloon. Granted, the fake him was actually just giving his usual patter (about maple syrup, weirdly.) But we’re pretty sure his bosses got the point.

5 Creative Ways to Open Up Your Office Design

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Your office design is killing teamwork.

At least that’s the headline for a recent article on Inc.com.

Writer Tim Donnelly suggests that the era of giant office spaces cordoned off by cubicles as far as the eye can see might have gone the way of the typewriter.

Newer companies, hoping to attract younger, tech-savvy employees and encourage innovative thinking and teamwork are re-imagining traditional office design. Since multitasking is the new black, they’re not as worried about busy employees getting distracted by side conversations – in fact, they believe these informal gabfests can lead to some great new ideas. Modern office design is focusing on fostering a fun environment where ideas flow freely.

This means that in the future, you might not be left staring at a gray fabric wall all day, nary a beam of sunshine to be found.

More companies are tearing up their old office layout blueprints and opening up workspaces.

Here’s how you can do it, too:
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1. Open Up Sight Lines

There’s nothing like a wall to quash a collaborative spirit – so some companies are ditching them. Rather then setting up that maze of cubicles, they’re arranging desks in long rows or small clusters with the hopes of opening up sight lines. For partitions, they’re opting for glass walls, which allow employees to see everything that’s going on around them. The concept of a private office is quickly becoming passe as businesses that seek more creative types want people to share ideas rather than sitting quietly in their personal space.

2. Re-think the Conference Room

With everybody working in an open communal space, traditional conference rooms – where folks gather to talk over ideas – are kind of obsolete. But rather than waste that space, employers can set up these rooms for people who need a quiet spot to focus on a project or have a private conversation.

3. Remodel the Kitchen

Let’s face it, your best ideas don’t usually hit you when you’re sitting behind a computer at your desk. They come to you in the shower or on your drive to work or when you’re complaining to a co-worker at the coffee pot. Businesses are starting to recognize that it’s not only more cost-effective to make all parts of the office multifunctional, but it also helps with all that teamwork they keep preaching about. To that effect, companies can get rid of the concept of a traditional office kitchen or breakroom – an area that might sit vacant for most of the day – and adopt a more cafe-esque setting, where employees can hold informal meetings and swap ideas. To facilitate this, tables should be able to double as workstations, which means they’ll need connectivity. While you don’t want folks lingering too long to catch up about “The Real Housewives,” it’s worth the effort if they troubleshoot a work problem over a cup of joe.

4. Use the Stairs (and the Hallway)

In the same vein of maximizing workspace in the kitchen, designers are also suggesting that companies can make more use of oft-neglected space like stairwells and hallways. Studies show that people are more innovative when they’re on the move, so it’s in the best interest of the company to make it easier for them to brainstorm throughout the office by making hallways wider and adding couches and whiteboards for folks to finish up a discussion or jot down an idea on their way to a meeting. Open stairwells can serve double-duty by encouraging people to socialize and getting their heart rate up at the same time.

5. Let the Sunshine In

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Natural light = happy employees. Working behind a screen in a cave all day isn’t exactly a recipe for creative thinking. But let in a little sunshine and maybe a peep of blue sky and the imagination starts whirring. Getting rid of cubicles and replacing solid walls with glass walls will give employees working in the center of the building a taste of the great outdoors, and it will help save on energy costs.

First photo courtesy of Tim Patterson on Flickr

Second photo courtesy of Chris Meller on Flickr