Tag Archives: office

Global cooling

It’s July in Washington. The weather is forecast to be sunny and 90 degrees, with 40 percent humidity, for the next 10 days. Ah, sweater weather!

This time of year, I don’t go anywhere, except maybe the beach, without a sweater.

Now that we finally have central air in our home, I sometimes put my bathrobe on over my clothes.

Don’t get me wrong; I welcomed A/C with open, goosebumped arms. It’s great. I sleep like a baby.

But overall, I feel that air conditioning is overdone. Do humans really need to spend their days and nights in 65-degree temperatures? I don’t know about you, but too much A/C makes my nose run, gives me a headache and makes my muscles ache. Can we just tone it down a little and maybe save the planet in the meantime?

The last office in which I worked was like a walk-in refrigerator. While my burly Norwegian colleague controlled the thermostat on our hallway, our boss came in every morning and did a Mister Rogers ritual, exchanging suit jacket for cardigan sweater. Everywhere I go—the mall, the grocery store, the movie theater, church, any hospital, every office building, every airplane, airport and restaurant—the air is cranked so high (or is it low?) that I can barely function without cover. When I travel, I carry a big shawl that doubles as a blanket. I can’t recall a flight in the last few years on which I haven’t buried myself under it. I’d wear gloves and a nosebag if I thought to pack them.

Are there any environmental scientists or engineers out there who can tell me how much energy could be saved by bumping up thermostats up a few degrees? Wouldn’t businesses also save huge amounts of money? Could we put a dent in our nation’s economic and environmental troubles with a simple flip of a switch?

If you agree, let’s huddle together and make it happen.

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Filed under Health, Rants and Raves, Travel

Work stoppage

Here is a suggestion for office managers all over the United States. You might as well close up shop this week because little is going to get done.

I admit it has been a while since I worked in a traditional office setting. But for the 20 or so years that I did, what I remember about the week before Thanksgiving—except for the occasional harried lame-duck Congressional session—is the fervent exchange of information pertaining to food for three full days preceding the holiday.

I predict that, for the next two and a half days, the majority of office computers will be connected to Epicurious.com or the Food Network and that cookbooks will be pressed against the glass of copiers churning out recipes to be shared among staff members. Conversations normally confined to the lunch room will spill generously into working hours, as colleagues seek other’s advice for the best way to satisfy Aunt Minnie’s taste for goose liver pâté.

Just walk down the hall and you’ll hear the great debates—stuffing cooked inside the turkey or out? Roast turkey or deep fried? Giblets in the gravy or not? Pumpkin pie or pecan? How many fruits and vegetables can be slipped into stuffing without the children tightening their lips? (In my house, the answer is zero.)

More e-mail will be generated between employees and their families than within the company, so as to make expectations clear about arrival times, covered dishes and football schedules.

One person (there’s one in every office) will be attempting the latest Martha Stewart centerpiece and individual place decorations and feeling the need to draw her colleagues into the challenge.

A worker or two will try not to get caught missing of an afternoon, while dashing out to buy napery.

Okay, so the word is out. But am I wrong?

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Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Holidays, Technology and Social Media

The Office

A project I have been working on has led to some interesting reading about demographics.

I read an article over the weekend that pointed out that, for the first time in U.S. history, four generations are working side by side in the workplace.  In “The Multigenerational Workforce: Managing and Motivating Multiple Generations in the Legal Workplace,” Sally Kane draws out the distinctions among the so-called Traditionalists, born before 1945, the Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y, in terms of how they tend to function in the workplace.

The article suggests that, largely because generations view the role of  technologies differently, the groups may also relate to their colleagues differently in meetings and in one-on-one interaction.

Obviously, Traditionalists have witnessed the most change over their career spans.  Presuming they entered the workforce in the late 1960s, they worked through cultural and technological revolutions the GenXers and Millennials may have only read about or seen on screen.  In the last 40 years, they have adapted to new workplace devices and vocabularies and, I dare say, have done so pretty well.

Technically a Baby Boomer, I began my career in 1983 at a high-tech trade association.  I was working in a leading edge industry that presumably used cutting edge technologies and forward thinking business concepts.  I worked hard to learn the lingo and became just proficient enough to stay employed in the industry for the next 20 years.

It doesn’t seem that long ago, but I realize now how many of the words we spoke and tools we used must be inconceivable to today’s young professional. Likewise, the collection of gadgets so indispensible to today’s office worker were as unforeseen to the workers of yesteryear as the practice of team-building.

If indeed such a wide gap exists, as the article suggests, in the interpersonal relations among the generations, perhaps I can be helpful in forging some understanding by explaining some commonplace terms from the early 1980s office.

Facsimile machine.  It wasn’t called a fax or used as a verb for years to come.  It was used only when time was of the essence; in my office, that was about twice a year.  We sent and received facsimiles by inserting a telephone receiver into a foam-padded cradle attached to a large roller in which we manually fed single pages.  The machine emitted a horrendous odor when receiving.

Message pad.  These were pink and were headed with the words, While You Were Out.  The answering machine came into existence a bit later.

Word processor.  As in, “please let me know when you are finished with the word processor, so I can use it next.”

Ashtray.  If you don’t know what this is, visit the Smithsonian; they probably have one on display.

Slides.  Little tiny cardboard frames encasing celluloid images shown on a carousel projector.

Transparencies.  Plastic sheets containing words written or images drawn with colored markers, shown on an overhead projector.

In Box.  It was a real box into which your mail was placed, before it was known as “snail mail.”

Out Box.  A lot could be known about you, depending on whether yours was above or below your In Box.

Christmas bonus.  Christmas was what they used to call Holiday, but bonus?  That one’s a little fuzzy.

Did I forget anything?

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Reading, Technology and Social Media