Archive for March, 2010

Blog Break: The rumor mill

Whether your workplace is a small, tight-knit community or part of a sprawling conglomerate, water-cooler talk is part of the daily landscape. What often starts as innocent conversation can deteriorate into ugly rumors, gossip and innuendo.

During a time when layoffs and cutbacks are so common, the rumor mill can take on a life of its own and produce panic, misinformation and just plain lies.

How does water cooler talk affect the environment in your workplace? Do you engage in spreading rumors at work? Have you ever been burned by gossip?

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Talking work while away from work

“What do you do for a living?”

It’s a question we have all been asked – and asked others – dozens thousands of times outside the workplace. Simple, mundane, keeps the conversation moving. (Assuming the person you just asked doesn’t say “paperclip polisher.” Or “Dr. Phil’s hair stylist.”)

By now it’s almost an obligatory practice among socializers, particularly male ones. And it happens everywhere, from backyard barbecues to wedding receptions to grade school recitals. If a sibling query existed, its would be that first-date fave “so, where are you from?”

Our question today is, do you really care how the person across from you makes his or her living, or is it merely a conversation-saver? Some people love discussing their work; others don’t. Which group are you in?

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“So, what line of work are you in?”

  • Now we’re talking!
  • I’m off the clock.
  • Indifferent. At least it’s good for …

Continue reading Talking work while away from work »

Blog Break: Those annoying co-workers

There’s a saying that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. There’s another group of people you can’t always choose: co-workers.

Most workers spend more time with co-workers than with their own families, and often times in closer quarters. Whenever people are grouped together in a cramped, cube-farm environment, minor problems are bound to happen.

It’s tough enough to get through a hard day of work without having to endure the annoying habits of the people you work with. Whether it’s clipping fingernails at their desk, making loud personal phone calls, whistling toneless tunes or microwaving smelly squid for lunch, everyone has pet peeves about co-workers.

Without naming names or companies, what are your most-annoying workplace pet peeves?

Continue reading Blog Break: Those annoying co-workers »

The case for corporate telecommuting

A recent Yahoo! HotJobs article named some of the most popular telecommuting jobs.

Entrepreneurs and freelancers have enjoyed the benefits of working from home for years – including those distant pre-Internet ones. Privacy, cheaper dry cleaning bills and uber-casual work wear (think PJs at noon) are just a few advantages.

What about more traditional office-based employees? For many, there’s never been a better time to telecommute.

According to WorldatWork, an Arizona-based human resources research group, more than 33 million U.S. workers telecommute at least once a month. That number is expected to rise dramatically over the coming years as technologies become more advanced and companies continue to look for ways to trim costs.

Even government employers are beginning to embrace the advantages of e-commuting.

About those benefits. Here are a few that come to mind:

•    Increased productivity, job satisfaction and flexibility. A 2008 teleworker survey conducted by Cisco …

Continue reading The case for corporate telecommuting »

Earning extra cash from a second job?

The unemployed aren’t the only ones looking for work these days. Rising cost of living, pay cuts, frozen wages, dwindling retirement accounts and other budget-stretching factors have caused many full-time workers to seek additional sources of income. Even some small-business owners are moonlighting as a way to keep their companies afloat.

Making ends meet in any economy – let alone a challenging one – is tough enough for many people. Some employers may be reluctant to allow full-time employees to hold second jobs because they fear that the additional hours could lead to on-the-job fatigue and poor performance.

If you’re a full-timer with a second job, what kind of side work are you doing? Is your current employer supportive of the “other” job? What impact has it had on your family, professional and social life?

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Office pools: Harmless fun or productivity-killing distractions?

March Madness. The Big Dance. Whatever you want to call it, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is in full swing. Besides being one of the most popular sporting events of the year, the tournament also spawns office betting pools galore.

In workplaces around the nation employees have filled out brackets, guessed who this year’s Cinderella teams are and even have called in sick and watch games from the comfort of their couches or favorite watering holes?

What’s your company’s policy on office pools? Are they allowed? Are they banned and your boss just looks the other way? Do office pools reduce productivity or do they boost morale?

What about watching tournament games on TV or following them online during work hours?

Continue reading Office pools: Harmless fun or productivity-killing distractions? »

Out of work and back to school?

Layoffs and downsizing have caused many workers to broaden their skills and improve their job prospects by going back to school.

Enrollment at Georgia’s universities, colleges and technical schools is at an all-time high. There are more than 300,000 students enrolled in University System of Georgia campuses, an increase of more than 50,000 from 2004. Almost 38,000 of those students are older than 25, and many higher educational officials expect that trend to continue.

With 28 campuses and 600 programs aimed at placing graduates in high-demand jobs, the Technical College System of Georgia is growing even more quickly. A record 109,548 students are enrolled in state technical schools this quarter, a 26 percent jump compared to 2009.

Has the job market sent you back to the classroom to improve your marketability? Do you think it will help you find a better job?

Continue reading Out of work and back to school? »

Kids at the office: Good or bad idea?

By now you’ve probably heard about Glenn Duffy, the air traffic controller who twice last month let his children direct pilots at New York City’s JFK Airport. Duffy and his supervisor have been suspended with pay pending a Federal Aviation Administration investigation, while the kids are now presumably left without access to one of the world’s coolest offices.

The events have ignited yet another flight safety debate. Released audio recordings of the JFK incidents suggest an overly permissive “Airplane”-esque environment led by someone resembling Lloyd Bridges – at least to the average air traveler. However, a number of pilots have expressed disbelief over the controversy, calling it a non-issue since Duffy never actually relinquished command of the process.

Is it a big deal or a big problem? What are your thoughts on bringing children to work in general? Is it a nuisance or a valuable teaching tool?

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Continue reading Kids at the office: Good or bad idea? »