Friday 20 July 2018

Consigning old office culture to the out-tray

As new research finds bosses are swearing more, Tanya Sweeney outlines what to expect when you show up for work this year

Swearing is in: Peter Capaldi in The Thick Of It would approve of the increase in cursing in the workplace
Swearing is in: Peter Capaldi in The Thick Of It would approve of the increase in cursing in the workplace

Allow us to have a moment of silence - or one big cheer, depending on how you look at it - for the workplace of yore. Thanks to a very eventful 2017, the office environment has undergone seismic changes. And while it may only be a few weeks since you last sat at your desk, you might have already noticed that things are already… different.

For a great many reasons, we are consigning several markers of office culture - not just the time-honoured tradition of sexual harassment, but cupcakes in the kitchen and casual Fridays - to the out-tray. Here's a taster of what to expect at work this year.

OUT: Casual sexism

You may well recall the days where one could say things like "calm down, love", or "white, two sugars sweetheart" to female colleagues, but time is most certainly up on all of that carry on. You may also forget about dismissing your teammates with ovaries as "emotional" or "probably on her period" if she dares to squeak up in a meeting. And if you're a boss thinking that it might be good to make an opportunistic pass at your PA at the next team-building weekend, you may refer to the careers of Weinstein et al for a steer on how that might go.

IN: Profanity

According to a new study of the transcripts of conference calls between top execs, 2017 was one of the sweariest years for businesses on record. Some of the reported swears include PG-rated stuff like "hell", "damn", and "BS", but those analysing the transcripts of conference calls were party to plenty of s-words and f-bombs over the course of the year. Researchers have said swearing has been linked to honesty, and can enhance a manager's credibility - those who curse are seen as more authentic. Also, CEOs are now more prone to showing their, eh, true feelings.

OUT: Blue-sky talk

There are some phrases, formerly generously doled out in meetings, that set people's teeth on edge. It's time to say a not-so fond farewell to the sort of management speak that invades meetings and inboxes yet means nothing. Our suggestions? 'Touching base offline', 'blue sky thinking', 'punching a puppy' (huh?), and 'thought shower'. Good riddance.

IN: Bringing your pet to work

When we're not punching a puppy, we're letting them hang out under our desks. In the UK, 8pc of employees bring a pet to work, and researchers say that engendering a pet-friendly workplace is brilliant for morale, productivity and stress levels of the workers. Just so long as you're not the one put on pooper-scooper duty…

OUT: The daily skinny latte

Have you done the maths on this one? If we're talking an average of 253 working days in the year, and a daily latte on your way into work, you could be spending around €885 a year on coffee, milk, foam and a sprinkling of cinnamon. It's a comforting ritual, certainly, but that kind of money could feasibly pay for a couple of spirit-restoring weekend breaks. Just buy a cafetiére and some filters and cop on.

IN: A weekly 'golden coffee'

Cafes from Sydney to San Francisco are spicing up their menus with a highly potent ingredient: turmeric. Google has singled out the humble spice, usually found in Asian soups and curries, as a major trend, with searches up 75pc in the last five years. Known for its anti-inflammatory powers, baristas are adding turmeric juice to almond, cashew or coconut milk. And according to disciples, it actually tastes pretty good - honest.

OUT: Power lunches

In the Urban Dictionary, a power lunch is described as a "gathering of co-workers of mostly young male corporate douches (yuppies) for a three-hour lunch on the clock that includes such things as a motorcade of Lexus and BMW automobiles, motivational speakers, cheers, and talking about the 'bottom line'". No wonder they're falling by the wayside.

IN: Protein lunches

We've become a much more health-conscious workforce and adding lean protein to lunches has the added benefit of making us feel fuller for longer. Once considered niche, protein-packed Buddha bowls and salads are popping up in all the high-street supermarkets and cafes - which is handy when there are boxes of donuts going around to beat the band.

OUT: Lunch hour in the pub

There's no more dispiriting a workday ritual than the carvery lunch. It's even worse when you've made it 'tradition' to nip across the road with colleagues you don't like for a lukewarm plate of spicy sausage pasta. This is one office norm that workers are delighted to see the back of.

IN: Flexitime

Finally, finally, the idea is taking root. From making space for midday siestas and napping rooms to providing telecommuting options, sitting at a desk and watching the minutes tick is set to become little more than a relic from the past.

OUT: Blabbing on office memos

You may recall the famous anti-diversity memo leak in Google last year that resulted in the engineer author of the screed being fired. Let it be a moment of warning to us all.

IN: Empowerment workshops

The boom in 'wellness' has seen workplaces embrace new initiatives to promote corporate health and well-being, from office yoga and mindfulness programmes to empowerment seminars. Women are signing up to these workshops in their droves, with the hope of becoming more confident, exacting a better work-life balance and feeling more capable and in control - banishing 'imposter syndrome' for good. Given the shift in office culture last year amid the #MeToo movement, it looks like workplaces are waking up to the modern world at last.

Irish Independent

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