The indomitable lions of the workplace

After the success of the cup of lukewarm milk, cashmere onesie and a peardrop-scented candle that was hygge, researchers at the University of Stoke Poges have discovered a word from Scandinavia or somewhere else that has no direct translation because no-one has been particularly bothered: byllge. The team of forty three, sponsored in error by a manufacturer of felt-covered high-backed sofas, believe it means my workplace is a bit crap but no-one really seems that interested in doing anything about it. They weren’t entirely sure it meant that, but when the heating broke in the lab three days ago they logged a job and were now unable to use the internet in mittens.

Even the Stoddart Review missed it, which is obviously unthinkable because it was a report written by some super people and even had a real economist in it.

Before temperatures began to lead to early-stage hypothermia, they were able to elaborate that the conditions associated with the idea are encapsulated with a conscious level of annoyance insufficient to prompt people to leave the organisation, but serious enough such that they would be palpably glad when not having to work there anymore, A no-man’s land of disgruntlement.

Some specific features of byllge are understood to be the following.

  • A scheme in which access to natural daylight operates via a voucher system. Points may be earned through offering unqualified flattery of the organisation’s strategy via the official portal (with deductions made for use of external social media), operating for the entire week within direct line of sight of one’s immediate line manager, and not complaining about any aspect of the workplace.
  • Allocation of space per person based on a complex calculation of the square root of not very much at all, divided by itself. It’s all the rage in Australia, apparently, first surfaced in a 1972 paper in the Journal of Intense Claustrophobia by Jody Bodie and Roy Doyle so it has academic credibility which means its okay. In this approach choice of setting is deemed highly important – as in, you choose to work in this setting or leave. As for when you work, it says so in your Contract.
  • Network connectivity that drops out on the occasion immediately prior to saving several hours’ prep work on a career-defining presentation, audio visual equipment that operates perfectly until the entirely re-written presentation has to be delivered to a lukewarm audience on their smartphones under the table, and missing minor keys on the laptop keyboard. Like the Q.
  • A distraction and stimulation-free environment, in a non-contentious single shade of off-beige chosen by the spouse of someone with a nice car, who does a bit of interior design at home.
  • Building systems in which temperature, humidity and air quality are controlled via a single large, red button believed to be concealed in a safe in an undeclared office on the 13th It is uncertain whether the button has ever been pressed, or what happens exactly when it is.
  • A help desk outsourced to a firm based in Transdneistra who are unable to make outgoing calls.
  • Coffee that is entirely indistinguishable from the oxtail soup option in the vending machine, and boiling water available for tea from a kettle in which limescale has successfully completed a reverse takeover. Food is a place you go, not something “we” do.
  • Toilets with seats cold enough to trigger anaphylactic shock, without paper at the most vital of times, industrial soap (when present) that removes at least two layers of skin from the hand, and driers loud enough to wake long-slumbering ancestors within the burial mound that the office was inevitably built upon, hence the reasons it’s a mile and a half from the nearest station.
  • Wherever you lay your bag, that’s your locker. If anything gets stolen, you probably shouldn’t have brought it to work with you.
  • A facility upgrade programme that sees the 13th floor renovated and re-furnished on an annual basis, to ensure that the organisation is seen to care about its people because it’s all about people (on the 13th floor).

The researchers found that in most organisations surveyed, the incredible adaptability, resilience, optimism and indomitable spirit of its employees overcame these annoyances, and good humour and excellence towards one another was evident. Stuff got done, and got done well. Attending the local café for meeting, working and refreshment, using one’s own device with a Q and a host of free apps, and the interchangeable availability of a puffa jacket and beach shorts appeared helpful in most instances.

But really, it doesn’t have to be like this. It’s elementary. There is work to do in 2017, let’s make sure it happens.


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