Have you ever tried in your life time to ever send a fax? (I hope you do know what a fax is, obviously). I don’t know about you, but back in the days when I would send out orders via fax, I feared that awful machine more than I feared traffic in late afternoon. It was a big, stubborn, horrifying creature – that had a mind of its own and never obeyed my commands! But all that changed the day a colleague made a small list of fool-proof, easy-to-follow steps, and glued it right at the top of the beast. (It was actually a great LEAN-ish kind of a job). And that day I had an epiphany – even a fax machine can be tamed if you know how to work with it!
I am person who believes in integrity at the job – but one can never go around life if the ground rules are not well-defined and dully explained. This is why I believe there is a shortage in manuals that teach us just how to behave in an office – so this post is here to fill that gap!
#1 If it’s in the fridge and it’s not yours – don’t touch it!
Did you ever had a nerve-wrecking experience such as having your food stolen right before your lunch break? You buy that low-fat yogurt the night before, you carry it home, you bring it to work, you gently place it in a small corner, you go on all through the morning thinking about it – and then, when the time has come… the thing has disappeared! Vanished! Gone! Dematerialized even! The first and most important rule to observe in the office – never, NEVER, mess with another colleague’s food. You can play with his feelings, you can scream and shout all you want, you can hurt or harm or do whatever you want – but there is a limit to everything, and that limit is food! I don’t care if you will forget all the other rules – but you must remember this one!
#2 If you borrow a stapler – you bring it back!
There are a number of items in this world that are just so small, so humble and insignificant – that we do not understand how important they are until they are forever lost. A stapler is such an item. Days (or years) can pass – and you would not even need it – until that moment, when you have to attach two papers together. You reach for the stapler (it’s always in that familiar place) but you feel nothing. You look all over the place. You open drawers you’ve never even knew you had. You clean up your desk. Nothing! And suddenly it hits you – I borrowed it to Sharon! And she never gave it back! So you have to go search for Sharon but she is in a meeting. Her colleague knows nothing of your stapler, and cannot give you hers as she just has to file a pile of documents. Before the day turns tragic – Sharon finally comes back, only to tell you she returned the stapler! But you know she didn’t – and though she swears you start rummaging her stuff – until there it is! Your precious stapler, held hostage (duct tape on his mouth, hands tied behind his back) on the back of a drawer. To avoid all of this – remember, always bring staplers back!
#3 If you buy a new pair of shoes, wear it!
Clothes and shoes are meant to be shown off! You have something new – you show it! The very next morning, make sure you come at work 10 minutes earlier than usual – and adopt a carefree pose, feet in the air, price tag barely visible, brand fully displayed – and just wait. They will notice – they have to! Practice the position, move your desk in front of the office if you have to, it doesn’t matter – all that matters is that everyone notice your new pair of shoes and that you begin your morning bragging about it. You can casually mention at coffee break, you can use it as an icebreaker in meetings and you can even bring it as an evidence for a salary increase you have any idea how much they cost!?!
#4 If the printer works don’t mess with it!
It might not come as a surprise for many, but the printer is the least faithful piece of office item that has ever been conceived since the very inception of printers. Just like a small child when lured to candy – the printer will be seduced by the first passer-by that uses the magical Ctrl+P command. You only have to print that one invoice – but that little cheating brat has already engaged in an affair with Tim from reception who just printed our 251 copies of the new visitors manual! So what do you do? Like a caring partner – you make sure it has enough paper, and you press that error button to make her feel better. So after 251 painful copies, whilst you wait for that one baby that is yours to come alive – what happens? REPLACE CARTRIGE!
#5 If it’s not your phone – let it ring!
It is most unprofessional and uncourteous to touch someone else’s calls! What you actually want to do – is choose a nice ringtone for your landline, the kind of nice sound one would hear when scratching the back of a pot with a sharp knife (if possible doubled by the lovely squeak of a cat on the verge of a nervous breakdown) – and then leave the room for at least 15 minutes. And though it is a world known fact that a phone will only ring during that window when you are away, you still have that novice of colleague that believes it is his duty to answer the phone, ask questions, leave a note and all that annoying business. Wrong, wrong, wrong! You have to let the phone ring, mind your own business, act like nothing is happening while Aerosmith are having a concert inside your head – and just casually mention I believe your phone rang
when the guy enters the door! It’s as simple as that!
#6 If it requires 1 hour to do it – finish it by tomorrow!
There are sometimes in life moments when you meet a person such as Boss. Boss is a guy who cannot understand that matter and time are vast, infinite and undeniable, so you simply cannot ask certain tasks to be performed in a certain time! The pure and unequivocal art of reports cannot simply be commended I need it in one hour! You need time to perform a perfect report – just as you need time to make a work of art! Imagine someone has went to Leonardo da Vinci and requested the thing to be done in an hour! Absurd! Would we had ever had such an epic Titanic performance? I certainly don’t think so! (Worth to mention however that this rule only applies one way! If you need something done urgently – you snap and make that lazy bastard move! You are the artist indeed – he is merely an employee!)
#7 If it smells like coffee it’s time to take a break!
Do not be misled by that good for nothing colleague that never drinks coffee. He is an absolutely disastrous character, and you should never follow his example. There is only one excuse that should be enough whenever you need a break – coffee. Use it good, use it often, use it wisely! You can and you must obey the call of coffee, if there is anything holy in this world – it is everyone’s right (and obligation) for coffee! Plan your informal meetings around it (we know those are the ones that really count), plan your business strategy around it, make sur it’s included in your benefits and your pension plan – whatever you do, do not miss coffee and all the joys it brings!
#8 If she carries a clipboard, leave her alone!
Here we are entering here the field of psychology. You see – in the human interaction world there is one big thing that men understand about women (and this covers all aspects of life, not just office) and that is – we men don’t understand a thing about women! I mean yes, it’s clear, we are hunters and they are gatherers, thus we chase for food and they gather thoughts and memories and all sorts of opinions and concepts and beliefs. So when you ask a guy how are you doing he will naturally say I’m hungry and he will be off in the deep woods of the freezer to solve the situation. Situation simply changes when you ask a women the same question – as she will retort why? Is there something wrong? or it depends, what do you want to know? or what do you want from me? or many other… So what should we, men do, lost as we are in the midst of this avalanche of questions we were definitely not prepared for? Duck, run, hide – there is no better strategy! But to come back to the clipboard – the only thing worse than asking a trick question, is asking the question to a lady with a clipboard. The clipboard is the very sign that you do not want to mess with her, and doing so much as breathing in her presence will immediately unleash the fury gods. So mark my words – a clipboard is a sign you have to avoid her, choose another way, take the stairs, turn into a plat… whatever it takes. Seriously!
#9 If your colleague did not leave an Out of Office message – it’s his business!
Never underestimate the power of patience. With enough patience you can learn how to knit. With enough patience you can actually wear the product knitted. With just enough patience you can learn how to fly (well, at least once in your lifetime)! You can do whatever you want and go wherever you wish, just have some patience! And this same is valid with your customers, suppliers, co-workers, partners, stakeholders, bartenders or any other form of ers – patience is the true key to one’s inner self! So do not bother to leave an OoO message if you are in vacation – that is the perfect time to practice patience! If you are gone for half a day or just two weeks, it does not matter – what you want to do is believe in the strength and endurance of patience. All mails that you receive will certainly wait – I mean c’mon, you do not work on the Enterprise to require warp answers!
#10 If it does not work blame it on the IT!
There are really a lot of mysteries in this great Universe: what is the origin of the word pizza?, who invented the Maya calendar?, who is Luke’s father?, was there ever a first Moon landing?, what is better – still or mineral water? who is better – Bruce Lee or Van Damme? who can run faster – Superman or Batman? which material is stronger – Kevlar or Chuck Norris? And many other strange, interesting mysteries, which most probably will never have an answer. But let’s face it, the biggest mystery in today modern life is is what exactly are IT guys doing all day? The day science will ever find an answer to that, it will also find the cure for sleep and an engineering solution for Man to land on the Sun. Until this happens though – as no one really knows what IT is doing – you have the perfect excuse for literally anything. That order not sent? IT fault! Did not hit target? It’s IT! Lost a deal? You know it – IT! Low on Sales? IT! Coffee machine not working? IT! Power out? IT! Bad weather? IT! Bad employee retention? IT! No life-work balance? It’s so IT! And finally – if Ctrl+Alt+Del doesn’t work after the fifth attempt – blame IT!
What other rules would you ad?