Archive for December, 2011
Office furniture can be expensive, not to mention hard to dispose of when you’re tired of it. Tossing aside giant desks and chairs and shelving is wasteful, and who really wants to spend time advertising tired old furnishings on the internet?
Each desk and shelf arrive in a flat pack via the mail, and can be assembled by inserting a few “tab As into slot Bs.” It sounds pretty convenient and easy, although to be fair, that’s what we thought about IKEA furniture before we’d ever tried to assemble some without a drill, two extra pounds of hardware, and a stiff drink.
The cardboard furniture is aimed at the student market, which makes sense, since founders Geoff Christou and Chris Porteous are both recent college grads. But we have to say that we know plenty of post-college people who could find a use for cheap, recyclable furniture that you can just toss in a blue bin when the lease is up. The furniture also seems like it would fit in pretty well in a lot of start-up offices, where most people bring in their own digital devices and assembling your cardboard desk is likely to be the only “paperwork” you ever do.
The desk is tested to hold up to 65 pounds — “if evenly distributed.” However, we sort of hope people don’t limit themselves to the weight guidelines, since it would be fun to watch your coworker’s desk collapse like Dwight Schrute’s Christmas desk.
Christou and Porteous already anticipated our other concern, which was that our clumsiness and refusal to stop drinking 47 Diet Cokes a day would mean a limited shelf-life for the furniture. (Seriously, everything we own is covered with soda can rings. It’s super elegant.)
“We asked for a water-resistant coating, and [the paper supplier] agreed to use water-resistant glue on the inside, so the cardboard wouldn’t delaminate if it got wet,” says Christou.
The jury’s still out on whether anyone has ever invented a water-resistant coating that could stand up to most college students’ beverage consumption habits, but at least the decline in the popularity of cigarette smoking means that dorms won’t have to worry about people’s furnishings going up in flames.
Image: Guelphmercury.comVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
For most cubicle denizens, the biggest danger they face on any given day might be a paper cut or tired eyes from a day spent staring at a computer screen.
Sure, over time they might be at greater risk for repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, but let’s face it: office jobs aren’t known for being risky.
Still, there are plenty of things that can go wrong in a day at the office — from slipping on spilled coffee in the break room to a back injury from picking up a box of copy paper.
And beyond those mundane workplace mishaps, there are plenty of other things that can go terribly wrong – everything from malfunctioning equipment to disgruntled employees.
We rounded up seven freak accidents and unusual problems that a meek cube dweller could face.
1. Deadly elevator: A New York City ad executive was crushed to death when the elevator she was attempting to board dragged her up after her foot got stuck in the gap between the elevator car and the lobby floor, according to an Associated Press article. A safety mechanism on elevators is supposed to prevent the car from moving when the doors are open. Investigators from the city’s Department of Buildings are trying to determine the reason for the malfunction. Two other people on board the elevator at the time of the accident were treated for psychological trauma, according to the article.
Photo courtesy of Stocker on stock.xchng
2. Electric desk: An elementary school gym teacher was hospitalized after being struck by lightening while sitting at his desk inside a Northport, Ala. school, according to the Associated Press. The teacher was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a nearby hospital.
Photo courtesy of nespresso on Stock.xchng
3. Noxious perfume:
At a Texas bank call center nearly 150 people were treated for illness – including dizziness and shortness of breath – after an employee sprayed perfume. Of those treated, 34 were hospitalized. According to an Associated Press article, officials initially thought the sickness was caused by carbon monoxide or some other toxic fume.
Photo courtesy of egahen on Stock.xchng
4. Office fisticuffs: A features editor at the Washington Post reportedly punched out a writer during a dispute over a story, according to DailyFinance.com. Veteran editor Henry Allen was venting to a pair of reporters about a semi-political story he’d assigned to a writer, and the “total crap” that was submitted to him. One of the reporters then told Allen to “not be such an [expletive],” which caused the 68-year-old to start throwing punches. Allen, who was just weeks from retirement, was banned from the newsroom.
Photo courtesy of dafeba on Stock.xchng
5. Dangerous footwear: High heels are the culprit of so many workplace injuries that Great Britain’s Trade Union Congress proposed a ban on the shoes at work, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph. The motion, which was tabled, stated:
“Feet bear the brunt of daily life, and for many workers prolonged standing, badly fitted footwear, and in particular high heels can be a hazard. Around two million days a year are lost through sickness as a result of lower limb disorders. Wearing high heels can cause long-term foot problems, such as blisters, corns and calluses, and also serious foot, knee and back pain and damaged joints.”
Photo courtesy of johnnyberg on Stock.xchng
6. Head scratcher: Police officers are exposed to all kinds of risky situations, but most of those are when they’re out on patrol – not in the safety of their station. The officers and staff of the Gainsville Police Department were recently attacked by small, six-legged suspects: lice. According to TampaBay.com, the itch-inducing critters were found in the lobby of the administration building. Thankfully, it has since been fumigated.
7. Snakes on a desk: An angry snake charmer unleashed between 20-40 venomous cobras in an Indian tax office, according to a story on GlobalPost.com. The man was reportedly frustrated about delays and demands for bribes. Despite the fact that the snakes were starting to climb tables and chairs, no one was bitten.
Photo courtesy of blaackhawk on Stock.xchngVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
Some Occupy Wall Street protestors hope for sweeping changes to our economy and system of government. Tracy Postert just wanted a job.
Postert, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology, went down to Zuccotti Park wearing a lab coat and armed with a sign, reading “Ph.D biomedical scientist seeks full-time employment” on the front and “Ask me for my resume” on the back. Wayne Kaufman, chief marketing analyst from John Thomas Financial Brokerage, took her up on it.
Six weeks later, she’s happily ensconced in an office cubicle, learning a new position as a junior analyst focusing on medical companies as potential investments. Although she’s currently making just over minimum wage, she expects to be making six figures in time. (And after passing the financial analyst exam.)
The irony is not lost on Postert, who spent 10 days holding a sign reading “Reagan sucks” before switching over to more practically-oriented signage.
“I never thought I would be doing this,” she said. Her original plan was to work in academia, but the gig at the bank was just too good to pass up.
The good PR means that this is a win for the company, too.
“She was ranting about Wall Street, and now she’s working on Wall Street,” said Thomas Belesis, CEO of John Thomas Financial Brokerage. “Banks are not so bad. Hopefully, we’ve opened her eyes.”
Belesis has made something of a second job of boosting the image of financial institutions. Last year, he was in the news for his involvement with a movement called Restore Wall Street, which aimed to buff up the banks’ reputations in the wake of the financial crisis. Maybe he’s decided that the best way to win over protestors is to find them a job.
Images: The Daily MailVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
Offices have a reputation for being boring. Something about spending 8 – 12 hours a day toiling away under fluorescent lights, while smelling other people’s lunches, and listening to their phone conversations just does not spell “fun” to most people. This is because most people are not the creators of television comedies. If we could live in the alternate reality presented by these TV shows, we’d never mind going to work again.
1. The Office
British version, or American, you ask? Either one, really, but let’s go with American, since that’s where our office cubicles are located. Also, the American version is the only one we’d consider working in. At least at Dunder-Mifflin, you have bizarre holiday parties and office pranks to look forward to.
2. Parks and Recreation
Parks and Rec is possibly the nicest workplace comedy ever filmed — unless you’re the hapless Jerry, who’s the butt of so many jokes. (We’d feel sorry for him were it not for his inexplicable love of the font comic sans.) Everything about this show is hilarious, from Amy Poehler’s relentlessly cheery and determined bureaucrat to Aziz Ansari’s astonishingly unsavvy wannabe mogul. Really, though, we just want to work in an office where new employees are greeted with an office full of balloons and a 10 a.m. waffle explosion.
If only our post-college working experience had been as hilarious as Workaholics. Alas, it was heavy on making copies and light on hijinks. This show, which features three recent college grads boozing their way through their first telemarketing gig, is so popular, it’s spawned its own dictionary. (We would share some terms with you, but we couldn’t find any that were PG-rated.)
4. 30 Rock
Sure, it seems like it’d be easier to have fun at work if your office was a TV studio, but Liz Lemon’s problems — a hardheaded boss, lazy coworkers, slashed budgets — are the problems of every mid-level manager. Still, everything looks like it’s more fun when Liz does it. And we have to give loads of credit to anyone who understands both the functional beauty of Slankets and the rare and delicious bouquet of off-brand deli corn chips.
If Arrested Development and James Bond had a baby, it would be Archer — both the show, and the title character. Sterling Archer might be the world’s most dangerous spy, but he’s also the most hilariously awful coworker ever. He hits on every staff member in a skirt, steals money from the company, and drinks constantly. Heck, he probably wouldn’t have a job if his Mom didn’t own the company. So why do we say this is still one of the most fun offices on TV? Well, for one thing, no one ever seems to be doing any work. Even the human resources director spends most of her time abusing her power and menacing the staff with hand puppets. And if you could be Archer himself … well, you’d definitely have the best gig of all time.
Images: 1. NBC.com/the-office, 2. NBC.com/parks-and-recreation, 3. ComedyCentral.com, 4. NBC/30-rock, 5. FXnetworks.com
If your co-workers regularly tell you that you behave like a child, it might be time to find a new job. Luckily, there are companies out there that would not only embrace your youthful spirit, but indulge it.
Say goodbye to that ugly cubicle and kiss that boring 9-5 goodbye in exchange for one of these offices, where you can play as hard as you work.
1. Red Bull
Red Bull might not be able to literally give its employees wings, but at the London offices they can at least fly down to a meeting on a sleek slide (and while at that meeting, they can play a little table tennis). Offices in Santa Monica, California feature an indoor skate park for employees to practice their kick-flips and ollies. And Student Brand Managers (the kids that hawk the energy drink on college campuses) get a Red Bull fridge and their dorm room stocked with, you guessed it, Red Bull. The modern design at company offices is meant to energize employees and pump visitors full of adrenaline.
Location: Emeryville, California
It only makes sense that the the animation company that brought you the likes of “Toy Story,” “Up,” and “Cars” would embrace its inner child. One employee describes the office as “a bright, happy place full of well-adjusted people.” Another employee said his internship kicked off with a cupcake-eating contest. Still another employee raved about the 25 different types of cereal available to workers. Offices are filled with models of famous Pixar characters from Buzz Lightyear to the Incredibles, plus there’s a huge game room featuring arcade games and pool, foosball and ping pong tables. And forget that boring cubicle; you can spend your days in a cute playhouse-inspired cottage.
Location: Santa Clara, California
There are plenty of reasons to work at this software giant: room for growth, job stability, benefits, etc… But on to the stuff you really care about – like the fact that you get eight weeks of sabbatical every seven years, free tickets to sporting events and live shows, and access to foosball tables, massage chairs and a corporate jet, according to The Business Insider.
Location: Mountain View, California
We know – everybody mentions Google in these roundups, but when photos of the office show people riding bikes through hallways or relaxing in a foam-block-filled bathtub in front of a tropical aquarium, well, it’s hard to skip. Google might have set the standard for designing an office for hyper-creative folks to work and play in. And by play, we mean play – you’ll find everything from old-school arcade games to foosball tables to a rock-climbing wall in the Googleplex.
Location: Palo Alto, California
The bright and airy Facebook offices in Palo Alto, California, might have fewer walls covered in fake turf and plastic flowers than Google, but it’s no less cool. The concrete floors beg for skaters to roll their boards between desks and employees are encouraged to write on the walls, hang artwork and even move the furniture (no need to ask mom!). To unwind, employees can head to the ping pong table, basketball courts, or play a little chess.
Location: Henderson, Nevada
Zappos.com thinks happy employees make happy customers, so they’ve created a unique office culture that fosters fun. The online shoe retailer offers employees free lunches and no-charge vending machines. Each department is responsible for decorating their conference room – which means you’ll find everything from zen-like Asian decor to bright red rooms boarded with comic books. To unwind, workers can play a little “Dance, Dance Revolution” or head over to the nap room (no mention if anybody reads a story to help you fall asleep). Headquarters looks more like a Party City than the location for a company that took in more than $1 billion in sales last year. Inflatable monkeys, pinatas, disco balls, and Chinese New Years dragons hang from the ceilings, and party hats and stuffed animals of all varieties make regular appearances.
Location: Fairfax, Virginia
The retailer of all thinks geeky and goofy encourages its employees to embrace their inner child (one worker even told CNBC he got high-fives when he showed up to work in his Ghostbusters uniform). The offices are filled to the brim with fun merchandise – everything from spycam pens to “Star Wars” Legos to bacon-flavored candy. Plus, one breakroom is loaded with video and arcade-style games, a claw machine, guitars and a foosball table.
8. Best Buy
If you enjoy testing out new video games and being the first to know about the latest and greatest in high-def TVs, then this is the company for you. At one location in Manhattan, the breakroom has two large flatscreens, video games and a foosball table for employees to enjoy. The store hosts video game tournaments after hours and allows employees to watch big events, like the Super Bowl, on their huge TVs, according to CNBC.com. And, each year the company sends 2,000 supervisors to Phoenix to test out new video games and gadgets ahead of the holidays. Game on.
What’s the difference between an office cubicle and a spaceship? If Tetra-Shed has its way, almost nothing. OK, you still won’t be able to breach the ionosphere before lunch, but the science-fictiony aesthetic and efficient use of space probably will make you think of saucers or pods — or maybe the world’s coolest backyard tent.
That’s not an accident. The cutting-edge cubicle design, which will be available in January 2012, was originally planned as a sort of modular office space for your backyard. The company says that the sheds can be used indoors or out, and recommends a number of different uses for them, including work or play space for homes, exhibition space for trade shows, or new-fangled office cubicles.
Tetra-Sheds are designed to be used singly or in groups of multiple cubicles, and come in a variety of different materials, including copper, zinc, steel, or marine plywood.
The Best Things About Tetra-Shed:
The Worst Things About Tetra-Shed?
Images: Tetra-ShedVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
Any company can rent a Santa outfit, deck the office cubicles with tinsel, set out some punch and say they’re having a Christmas party. But it takes a really special employer to think up ideas like the ones we’ve found. Here are a few of the really awesome things that some companies have done at the holidays to show that they care about their employees.
1. Give actual gifts.
We hate to break it to you, but your employees have enough pens with the corporate logo on them. If you really want to express your appreciation for your employees, give gifts that show that a little thought. Or failing that, give cash. It always fits. Have people unwrap their presents at the party — you know, like it’s a real party.
2. Have holiday karaoke
There is very little on this earth more rewarding than watching your coworkers make fools out of themselves at a karaoke bar. In fact, the only thing we can think of, really, is watching the boss make a fool out of himself at a karaoke bar. This is also potentially lucrative, as you can place bets on who will sing “I Will Survive.” Someone always does.
3. Give awards
OK, fine, it sounds like The Dundies, but if you do awards right, it actually does mean a lot. It’s easy to feel anonymous at the office, and getting an award — even if it’s for Messiest Desk in the office — shows that people actually are paying attention to what you’re doing. (In our case, it was keeping the messiest desk in the office, but so what?)
4. Play coworker trivia.
The toughest part of organizing an office party is getting people to talk to each other. Given their druthers and no good excuse to mix, the accounting department will talk to the accounting department, the sales folks to other sales people, the creatives only to each other and their iPhones, and so on. Coworker trivia is a great way around this. Put together a list of facts about employees and invite everyone to figure out who fits which description. It’ll get people talking to one another and better yet, it’ll make them see their colleagues in a whole new way. (Who knew the head of IT used to model for Abercrombie and Fitch? Or that the CEO has more than a dozen cats?)
5. Pay for the cab ride home.
This is especially important if you’re going to serve alcohol, of course, but it’s a nice idea anyway. Who wants to worry about finding a cab late at night? This is especially useful in places that don’t have a lot of car services. If your company is located outside a city, you can offer the same benefit by organizing rides home for your revelers. It’ll make them think well of the company and prevent festivity-related accidents.
(Occupy Wall Street protesters pose for a picture in their new office space near the New York Stock Exchange in Manhatten. Photo courtesy of justinwedes on Twitter)
Here’s an ironic twist for you: the counter-culture many of the Occupy Wall Street protesters have unpitched their tents in Zuccotti Park and settled into cubicles in an office just a block away from the New York Stock Exchange.
The move was in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s raid on the park back in November and the cold weather (who wants to hold an outdoor protest in the middle of winter?!), according to an article on the Huffington Post.
CNN got an exclusive tour of the new digs; rent, furniture, food and water has all been paid for with donations.
In the CNN video, the Occupied Office looks similar to any other office space – copy and fax machine included. The only notable difference might be the protest signage proclaiming “We are the 99 percent” plastering the office doors and the attire of the people working there (decidedly street casual).
There’s a doorman who checks his database of verified working-group members before letting anyone in and everyone wears a numbered tag that reads, “The Occupied Office” (a way to help ensure Occupiers don’t violate building fire codes, according to an article on MotherJones.com). There are even rules to limit the noise levels in the office: cellphones must be on vibrate, workers must talk in low voices and large meetings have to be held in the hallway.
(Before Mayor Bloomberg evicted them from Zuccotti Park, signs like this one used to offer Occupy Wall Street protesters information about events. Now Occupied Office workers post schedules via various types of social media and online message boards. Photo courtesy of david_shankbone on Flickr.)
Occupy workers keep track of what the print media is saying on giant bulletin boards and use whiteboards — and even windows and glass doors — to write down ideas.
The gray-carpeted office, which consists of large communal workspaces and a some private offices, serves as a communication hub for protesters who had been getting information about meetings, concerts and more from boards and signage in the park, according to a recent article on newsobserver.com.
“People were like, ‘Where do we stay? What do we eat? Where do we go? What are the events?’” thirty-three-year-old Evangelina Jimenez, told the newsobserver.com recently.
In addition to their office space, Occupy Wall Street has a storage space nearby, where they stock donated supplies including bedding, towels, clothing and shoes for protesters who are now homeless.
(An example of the outdoor work and living space Occupy protesters used before cold weather and eviction set in. Photo courtesy of david_shankbone on Flickr.)
They also have a meeting place in the most unlikely of spots: the public-private atrium of Deutsche Bank (although Salon.com reports the bank has recently posted rules to limit protesters activity in the space).
Occupy Wall Street activists are tight-lipped about the exact location of the office and who’s paying for it. Its existence comes at a convenient time for the group – and not just because of the weather. Many members of the movement have been calling for a more goal-oriented political action, according to Gawker.com, and nothing says goal-oriented quite like a cubicle.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Anyone can throw a bunch of tinsel around their office cubicle and call it holiday decorating. While that might be inexpensive, it’s also not very creative. (Also: Potentially depressing. There’s no bigger bummer in the world than digging months-old tinsel out of your office supplies.) These holiday cubicle decorations are way more interesting.
1. Lite-up Snowman Pens
The absolute best thing about these snowman pens is that you whack them on the heads in order to make them light up. This is awesome in your cubicle, but will be a thousand times more awesome in your next meeting, when you sit there lighting and unlighting your pen by hitting it on the conference table.
2. The Most Terrifying Santa You Can Find
There are many Santas available to you, the discerning cubicle decorator. Some are light-up. Some are ginormous. Some make little children cry. We recommend that you look for a Santa that’s all three.
3. Gingerbread Cubicle
Looking for an original idea for decorating your cubicle? How about filling it up with dozens of tiny little cubicles made entirely of gingerbread? Anarchy symbol optional. Enjoy your newly-found peace and quiet, as your coworkers leave you entirely alone forever.
4. Cubicle Full of Candy
Less creepy, but equally delicious, is this cubicle full of candy. This decorating scheme is only for the very social. If you fill up your cubicle with candy, you’ll have lots of friends in the office — at least until everyone makes their New Year’s resolutions.
5. Ice Cubicle
This is perfect for those people who look around their office and think, “It’s OK in here, but I’d be much more productive if this place resembled the ice planet of Hoth.” We’re not making fun, by the way. In general, we find that the more our office resembles one of the original Star Wars movies, the better we feel. Coming next to a cubicle near you: Dagobah. Snakes optional.
During the holiday season, there’s nothing scarier than being the Secret Santa for a co-worker who you know nothing about. Before you wait until the last minute, panic and buy a page-a-day lighthouse calendar or a copy of “Kitten Care for Dummies,” read through our list of office-friendly gifts.
1. MacBook Decals
If your co-worker is obsessed with all things Apple, then he’ll love these clever decals which make use of the iconic glowing apple on the back of the MacBook. You can find a variety of decals (including Converse hightops and Yoshi of Mario Bros. fame) on Etsy.com for around $6.
2. Donkey Kong Mouse Pad
Your 8-bit obsessed cube-mate loves all things video game but is forced to spend at least eight hours a day slaving for the man. Help him keep his eye on the prize with this pixelated mouse pad featuring everyone’s favorite barrel-throwing gorilla. $12 on Etsy.com.
3.Fishing Lure Flashdrive
Sure, your boss might be a soul-sucking slave driver Monday through Friday, but on the weekends he loves nothing more than getting back to nature by throwing on a pair of hip waders and casting a line. Help him get back to his happy place at the ol’ 9-5 with this fishing-themed USB drive (and you can gain a few extra vacation points by showing him how to use it). $19.99 on uniqueusbflash.com.
4. Pocket Currency Calculator
Perfect for your co-worker who spends most of her time en route to international business meetings. This dual-screen calculator will allow your resident jet-setter to easily figure out how much she just spent on that nori roll (perfect for expensing!) without a lot of extra bulk. $10 on momastore.org.
5. Anti-theft Lunch Bags
If your gift recipient complains of employee refrigerator thievery on a regular basis, then solve her woes with this sure-fire lunch protection. The reusable plastic bags are painted with green splotches to give the appearance of mold (ewww gross!). Now all but the least-discerning sandwich stealers will abort their missions. $6.40 on thinkofthe.com.
6. Waterproof Shower Notebook
If you work by a super-creative someone who arrives at work each morning saying he lost yet another great idea while washing his hair, then the Waterproof Shower Notebook is the perfect present. It will allow him to capture that great idea before it gets washed down the drain. Sure, you probably don’t want to think about your co-worker in the shower (unless you do, in which case we don’t want to know about it), but wouldn’t you rather he show up to work with a solution to that networking problem you’ve been dealing with? $12.99 on perpetualkid.com.
7. Ticket Stub Diary
If your cube neighbor spends all of Monday and most of Tuesday reviewing the set list from whatever indie rock concert he went to Saturday or calls into sports talk radio shows to talk about the quarterback situation in Denver during breaks, you know he’ll love the Ticket Stub Diary. This notebook comes with clear plastic sleeves that accommodate most ticket sizes and room to write notes in the margins. Rock on. $10 at uncommongoods.com.
8. Workday Recovery Kit
For that whiny … err, over-stressed … co-worker, give the gift of laughter. The kit promises to soothe malaise, restore purpose and relieve that monotonous daily grind. It includes a 16-page remedy book, silicone bracelet, affirmation cards and healing bandages. $8.23 on amazon.com.
9. “We Are Happy to Serve You” Ceramic Coffee Mug
Anyone can give a coffee mug for the holidays, but only you can give your lucky coworker a coffee mug that looks like a cheap, disposable paper cup. This ceramic mug is the perfect gift for the coffee/New York/Law & Order/environment fan in your office.
$11.99 on perpetualkid.com.
10. Dirt Devil Detailer Hand Vacuum
If the mess on your desk has been known to spill on to the desk of your neatnik neighbor, offer an olive branch for Christmas with this small but powerful vacuum. Now, we’re not saying she should clean up your mess – but you can at least give her the option of sprucing up her own space. This li’l Dirt Devil is handy for sucking crumbs out of keyboards and M&Ms off the floor. $13.75 on amazon.com.