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Eureka: Reducing abuse at the workplace
by Jay Gutman
2016-12-09 09:12:36
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There are basically three ways to significantly reduce abuse at the workplace: first, get rid of computers. Then get rid of phones. Finally, have a one hour unstructured meeting every morning with all the staff present.

abus02_400Regarding getting rid of computers. Boss gambles online or bets online, loses, takes out his anger on his subordinate. Boss watches porn online, sees his pretty looking secretary, sexually harasses her. These schemes are all too common. Almost everything that can be done on a computer can be done with pencil and paper. Pen and paper tends to allow better concentration, is less prone to bugs and mistakes and in the end allows more productivity and less irritability.

If you really want computers at the company you can have a few of them at the company library, but make sure staff doesn’t argue over who gets to use them. Some things are better done on computers, such as designing logos, typing faster or sending emails but you want your staff to do those activities only when absolutely necessary, or have a secretary equipped with a computer to type what other people are writing. Computers also sometimes mean rash emails, rashly drafted papers that can include provocative statements or offensive statements. Pencil and paper allows staff to think twice before they draft that letter. As for the hand hurting from writing, that tends to wear off once you get used to writing with pencil and paper.

Computers have also made staff that was once specialists become generalists. Religious studies professors now have to make more budgets than they have time to research religious trends, sales managers spend more time compiling lists of potential clients than looking for clients and marketing assistants spend more time fighting with paint brush than getting reports on how best to market the product. In the end, conversation and pen and paper will be your best friend.

Regarding phones, there’s nothing more annoying than a colleague talking to the client on the phone and having to hear that conversation. Colleagues also tend to pass subliminal messages on the phone rather than say things to people’s face. Some colleagues will deliberately call people all day long just to annoy their other colleagues. To sum up, phones equal noise pollution. If phones are used to communicate between colleagues, colleagues are better off visiting each other’s office. When talking face to face, people tend to offend each other less. As for communication with the outside world, you want to give phones only to staff who absolutely need phones and who have private offices. Or even better give staff cell phones that they can pick up outside the office. Talking over the phone can also give pounding headaches, so if possible only talk on the phone to set up face to face appointments, no need to tell your life story over the phone. Make long phone calls and you’ll take your anger and headaches out on your colleagues.

As to having unstructured meetings for an hour or so every morning, everyone in the office needs to know what’s going on as tasks tend to be interrelated and no job is completely independent. During the meeting, try to plan out what’s going to happen during the day and make sure everyone gets to talk. Workers tend to harass each other less when they know that’s going to come up at the meeting the next day and tend to be more productive when they know more or less what to expect at work that day. They also tend to feel more included in the team when they’re part of a meeting every morning. If yelling goes on, at least no single person is the victim of abuse. If mistakes happen at the office, at least they get pointed out immediately.

There may be no perfect office culture and I know a lot of people who would dread these suggestions, especially the part where you have to meet your colleagues every morning. But let’s face it, if your colleague’s not comfortable talking to you, chances are he won’t be comfortable talking to clients and guests either. Hope this advice will help set up better office cultures.

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Stuart Jenkinson2016-12-12 03:29:07
I would have thought a full frontal lobotomy would be more effective at reducing abuse in the workplace. Long time, no see. Are you back in Korea?

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