Imagine this.You’ve just finished a long, hard day at the office. You finally get home and settled on the couch before ripping into a book that’s all about dramas and politics of the office you just left.
Sounds like a nightmare, right? But these aptly titled “workplace novels” are hot literary property in China where cutthroat competition in the business world has made everyone desperate for any inside knowledge they can get their hands on.
Lu Qi, usually a martial arts novelist, has just sold one million copies of his book, Hidden in the Office, which contains 23 rules for getting ahead in the workplace.
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Some good news for us desk fatties this week. Sitting hunched over our computers all day is not actually making us obese. In fact we burn just as much energy as our hunter-gathering ancestors did.
Really. We know this because scientists from Hunter College at the University of Arizona and Stanford University told us so.
They conducted an experiment comparing the daily expenditure of the Hadza, a tribe of traditional hunter-gatherers from northern Tanzania, Africa, with the average Western desk worker. In all cases they found that our energy expenditure was exactly the same.
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Never have I cried at work. Not when I was passed over for a promotion. Not when my first marriage broke up. Not even when I was slammed with a written warning from a priggish managing editor for a grievously misplaced apostrophe that should’ve been spotted during editing.
“Your’e a twat, yo’ure a twat, y’oure a twat,” I may have muttered silently as I returned to my desk, but the tears stayed stuck. For 20 years, I’ve fought hard to curb any office eye-prickling (there’s been the odd tissue dab in the loo).
“I’m sure we’ve caused you a few tears over the years,” a formidable London editor guffawed as he gave me a pay rise, having realised the apostrophe-challenged Antipodean could actually do her job.
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According to RSVP, 28 per cent of us find lurve at work. Community newspaper group Quest ran the story along with a warning from a relationship psychologist not to have sex in the office.
Do people really not know that sex in the office is a dismissible offence? Really?
Other advice included not dating the boss or having a public barney at work with your co-worker turned partner. All pretty obvious stuff but as they say, commonsense is not that common.
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I once worked at a start up in a building with only a thin metal divider between my desk and the in-house café, which offered free drinks and a pool table.
My co workers came from a mix of work cultures – corporate suit and tie types, web developers in tee shirts and the first wave of smart, funky Gen Ys. It was fun … most of the time.
I tell the absolute truth when I say shoes were optional and head phones unheard of. A mixture of music blared from open plan desks. I was in one meeting where we had to shout to make ourselves heard over Lenny Kravitz. Did I mention it was the 90s?
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Wake up. Snooze, sleep. Repeat 3 times (may vary). Get out of bed. Wash (optional). Breakfast (optional). Coffee (necessary).
Take ironed shirt from night before, tuck into pants. Place belt around said pants. Get tie fitting right, add shoes, hair and makeup (optional).
Wallet, keys, iPhone/Blackberry/mp3 player and out the door.
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In another study from the University of Obvious Research Findings, research out today finds people are increasingly working away from the office.
And it’s perhaps it’s even more predictable given that the survey was commissioned by Telstra. Surprise! Telecommunications technology is all the rage says a study - from a telecommunications technology company.
Although once you get past saying “well, duh” and grab your pinch of salt, some details in the findings might just twitch your eyebrow. It says a quarter of Australian workers are spending five hours working outside of the workplace each week, and 15 per cent are doing it 10 hours a week. These are pretty significant numbers and signal a real shift in the nature of Australian work. The question is whether a society of always-on workers is a Good Thing.
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Most people in this country spend around 35 hours plus, (give or take sick days, annual leave, religious holidays, extended lunch breaks, taking a nap in the archive room etc), per week at work.
Given that this represents such a high percentage of our lives, it makes sense, to some degree, that we be as comfortable as possible in these environments, maybe even do little things here and there that make the workplace more homely. The key phrases here however, are “to some degree” and “do little things”.
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