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One woman who frequently flew on Southwest, was constantly disappointed with every aspect of the company’s operation. In fact, she became known as the “Pen Pal” because after every flight she wrote in with a complaint.
She didn’t like the fact that the company didn’t assign seats; she didn’t like the absence of a first-class section; she didn’t like not having a meal in flight; she didn’t like Southwest’s boarding procedure; she didn’t like the flight attendants’ sporty uniforms and the casual atmosphere.
Her last letter, reciting a litany of complaints, momentarily stumped Southwest’s customer relations people. They bumped it up to Herb’s [Kelleher, CEO of Southwest] desk, with a note: ‘This one’s yours.’
In sixty seconds, Kelleher wrote back and said, ‘Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.’”
The phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, and is typically used by businesses to:
Fortunately more and more businesses are abandoning this maxim – ironically because it leads to bad customer service.
Here are the top five reasons why “The customer is always right” is wrong.
Gordon Bethune is a brash Texan (as is Herb Kelleher, coincidentally) who is best known for turning Continental Airlines around “From Worst to First,” a story told in his book of the same title from 1998. He wanted to make sure that both customers and employees liked the way Continental treated them, so he made it very clear that the maxim “the customer is always right” didn’t hold sway at Continental.
In conflicts between employees and unruly customers he would consistently side with his people. Here’s how he puts it:
When we run into customers that we can’t reel back in, our loyalty is with our employees. They have to put up with this stuff every day. Just because you buy a ticket does not give you the right to abuse our employees . . .
We run more than 3 million people through our books every month. One or two of those people are going to be unreasonable, demanding jerks. When it’s a choice between supporting your employees, who work with you every day and make your product what it is, or some irate jerk who demands a free ticket to Paris because you ran out of peanuts, whose side are you going to be on?
You can’t treat your employees like serfs. You have to value them . . . If they think that you won’t support them when a customer is out of line, even the smallest problem can cause resentment.
So Bethune trusts his people over unreasonable customers. What I like about this attitude is that it balances employees and customers, where the “always right” maxim squarely favors the customer – which is not a good idea, because, as Bethune says, it causes resentment among employees.
Of course there are plenty of examples of bad employees giving lousy customer service. But trying to solve this by declaring the customer “always right” is counter-productive.
Using the slogan “The customer is always right” abusive customers can demand just about anything – they’re right by definition, aren’t they? This makes the employees’ job that much harder, when trying to rein them in.
Also, it means that abusive people get better treatment and conditions than nice people. That always seemed wrong to me, and it makes much more sense to be nice to the nice customers to keep them coming back.
Most businesses think that “the more customers the better”. But some customers are quite simply bad for business.
Danish IT service provider ServiceGruppen proudly tell this story:
One of our service technicians arrived at a customer’s site for a maintenance task, and to his great shock was treated very rudely by the customer.
When he’d finished the task and returned to the office, he told management about his experience. They promptly cancelled the customer’s contract.
Just like Kelleher dismissed the irate lady who kept complaining (but somehow also kept flying on Southwest), ServiceGruppen fired a bad customer. Note that it was not even a matter of a financial calculation – not a question of whether either company would make or lose money on that customer in the long run. It was a simple matter of respect and dignity and of treating their employees right.
Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, took it even further. CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote an excellent book about their approach called Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.
Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first. Put employees first, and they will be happy at work. Employees who are happy at work give better customer service because:
On the other hand, when the company and management consistently side with customers instead of with employees, it sends a clear message that:
When this attitude prevails, employees stop caring about service. At that point, real good service is almost impossible – the best customers can hope for is fake good service. You know the kind I mean: corteous on the surface only.
Herb Kelleher agrees, as this passage From Nuts! the excellent book about Southwest Airlines shows:
Herb Kelleher […] makes it clear that his employees come first — even if it means dismissing customers. But aren’t customers always right? “No, they are not,” Kelleher snaps. “And I think that’s one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don’t carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, ‘Fly somebody else. Don’t abuse our people.’”
If you still think that the customer is always right, read this story from Bethune’s book “From Worst to First”:
A Continental flight attendant once was offended by a passenger’s child wearing a hat with Nazi and KKK emblems on it. It was pretty offensive stuff, so the attendant went to the kid’s father and asked him to put away the hat. “No,” the guy said. “My kid can wear what he wants, and I don’t care who likes it.”
The flight attendant went into the cockpit and got the first officer, who explained to the passenger the FAA regulation that makes it a crime to interfere with the duties of a crew member. The hat was causing other passengers and the crew discomfort, and that interfered with the flight attendant’s duties. The guy better put away the hat.
He did, but he didn’t like it. He wrote many nasty letters. We made every effort to explain our policy and the federal air regulations, but he wasn’t hearing it. He even showed up in our executive suite to discuss the matter with me. I let him sit out there. I didn’t want to see him and I didn’t want to listen to him. He bought a ticket on our airplane, and that means we’ll take him where he wants to go. But if he’s going to be rude and offensive, he’s welcome to fly another airline.
The fact is that some customers are just plain wrong, that businesses are better of without them, and that managers siding with unreasonable customers over employees is a very bad idea, that results in worse customer service.
So put your people first. And watch them put the customers first.
Some folks insult a client via Twitter. Other folks friend their bosses and then complain about their jobs.
Social networking is just the best isn’t it?
While these screwups should be relatively easy to avoid it’s amazing how many people still commit social networking suicide.
The latest for the social networking files comes via April Buchheit on FriendFeed. Buchheit’s find was highlighted by The NextWeb.com. Memo to all: Those Facebook comments aren’t exactly private. Doh! (Apologies in advance for the language).
How did this “wanker” boss handle this little episode? Would you do anything differently?
Washington – Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) is everywhere these days – and it’s easy to see why. PDF files are secure. They also allow publishers to distribute documents with complex formatting retained, and, thanks to the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, they can be viewed by just about anyone on any platform. But what if you’d like to do more with PDF files – such as converting them into text, or creating them yourself? That’s when most questions arise. Read on for some answers.
Q: How can I turn a PDF into editable text?
A: There are a few ways. First, you can scan the document and then use an application to turn the scanned document into editable text. To do this, you’ll need two tools: a scanner and an optical character recognition (OCR) package. Most people have a scanner these days. If you don’t, you can find good flatbed scanners for as little as 25 dollars.
As for an OCR package, you might already have one without knowing it. If you have Microsoft Office installed on your PC, you also have an application called Microsoft Office Document Imaging, which can do everything from scanning a printed document to performing optical character recognition and sending the result to Word. MS Document Imaging probably won’t be as accurate or preserve as much formatting as a heavy-duty commercial OCR package such as OmniPage, but it will do the trick in many situations.
Another option is to procure or purchase a full version of Adobe Acrobat or Nitro PDF Professional, which would allow you to open a PDF and save it as a text file, assuming the PDF has not been password-protected. Both Acrobat Pro and Nitro PDF are available in
Finally, for low volume work, you might try one of the free online services, such as PDFtoWord (http://www.pdftoword.com), that will convert your PDF and e-mail you the results of the conversion. PDFtoWord does an impressive job of converting PDFs with most formatting intact.
Note that one of the reasons that the PDF format has gained such traction is that it allows companies and individuals to secure the content of the document by password-protecting the PDFs. Be sure not to redistribute protected documents that you’ve converted from PDFs.
Q: Is there a way to turn a document into a PDF without buying Acrobat Pro?
A: Yes. If you do not want to purchase any software at all, you could turn to one of the free online services that will convert a document into PDF and send you the results by e-mail. PDF Online (http://www.pdfonline.com/convert-pdf) is one such service. This approach is suitable for one-off or low-volume work.
For higher volume work, check out the free Doc to PDF Universal Document Converter (http://www.doc-pdf.com), which is essentially a printer driver. Once installed, just open the document you’d like to convert, and from your application’s File menu, select Print. In the resulting Print dialog box, select Universal Document Converter as the printer, and then click the Properties button. From the Properties panel, select Document to PDF as the profile type, and click OK. Files are saved to the folder ‘c:udc output files’ by default.
Q: Adobe reader just seems to get larger and slower. Is there any way I can get older versions of the Reader?
A: Sure. Check in at OldVersion.com (http://www.oldversion.com/Acrobat-Reader.html), and you’ll find virtually every version of Adobe Reader since 1.0.
. So instead of using an older version, you may want to opt for a replacement. Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader) is free and compatible with most PDF documents in existence today.
Foxit’s claim to fame is that it’s ‘small’ and ‘fast,’ which will be music to the ears of those who want nothing more from a PDF reader than to read PDF documents – and quickly.
With Foxit installed, you’ll probably be able to open PDF files you find on the Internet almost as quickly as you open a standard Web page. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Q: I installed Adobe Acrobat on my computer, and now I have Acrobat toolbar buttons in most of my applications, such as Word and Outlook. My applications also load slower than before I installed Acrobat. How can I get rid of these buttons?
A: There’s really only one way to remove these toolbars permanently. You can go to the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel, find the Adobe installation, select it, and click Remove/Change. You’ll want to ‘change’ the installation, and in the process remove the Create Adobe PDF options for the applications where you do not wish to see the toolbar buttons. Specifically, in the Change dialog box, you should expand the Create Adobe PDF menu and change the status of the appropriate application to ‘This feature will not be available.’
Note that doing this will not affect your ability to print to PDF using the PDF printer driver. In other words, you’ll still be able to create PDFs with your applications; you’ll just need to select PDF as the printing format from the Print dialog box.
So far, our articles on CV writing mainly discussed what you should or should not write in your CV. The purpose of this article is to go a little deeper into the content of your CV and see what type of words can make the selector immediately shortlist your CV for an interview.
The basic purpose of these words is to demonstrate your hold of a particular situation and the actions you took to achieve a result or come out of a situation. One important thing to note here is that the immediate past tense of a verb is more powerful than the verb itself. Using a past tense also shows that you actually completed the work you started successfully. Adding some figures and facts along with these verbs would add more impact.
Let’s see with an example how each word can be utilised to its full power:
Good example: Achieved the target of implementing the software onsite for 200 users 15 days before the deadline.
Bad example: To implement the software onsite.
This sounds more like a responsibility. The interviewer is mainly interested in knowing about your output.
Good Example: Built new premises to convert the study centre into a residential college accommodating 200 students.
Bad example: Building a new premise for the residential college.
Good example: Developed guidelines for 50 users to understand and use the new process for client handling.
Bad example: Developing guidelines to use the new process for client handling.
The selector and the interviewer will be amused with questions like: What guidelines? When? For whom?. The good example here answers these queries and shows your output rather than your responsibility.
Good example: Eliminated the use of thick brown tape for sealing the packages to reduce the cost by over 15 per cent.
Bad example: To eliminate wasteful of resources.
The selector will again have the questions like ‘what type of resources?’, ‘how did your action help?’
Good example: Forecast a downturn in the FMCG business because of economic slowdown. Suggested measures to combat it and achieve the quarterly target.
Bad example: To analyse and forecast the market.
Good example: Introduced a new process to handle queries from potential customers to increase the conversion rate by 60 per cent.
Bad example: Introducing a new process to handle client queries.
Good example: Modernised a chain of 15 retail outlets across three states to meet the taste of urban youth.
Bad example: To modernise the look of retail chain outlets.
Good example: Organised reseller conferences in three cities while maintaining a close co-ordination with three internal departments and four vendors.
Bad example: Organising events like exhibitions and retailer conferences.
Good example: Recommended five new ways to ensure that the company is able to roll out the new version of its ‘small car’ before the launch of Nano [Images].
Bad example: Recommending ways for the company to roll out its new ‘small car’
Good example: Secured first position in the university while pursuing MBA course and helped the college stand at the top of the list.
Bad example: University topper during MBA.
How do I use these in my CV?
If you are stuck with finding a good word to describe your action in the CV, take a look at this list of some frequently used action words.
Now that you’ve taken the baby step to speed up Firefox why not take an extra step to make Firefox superfast? FireTune is a freeware tool that helps you optimize Firefox so that it can work on the turbo speed mode.
FireTune allows you to configure the level of optimization that it can do by letting you choose the kind of computer and the internet connection that you have. The optimization that FireTune does is possible because of the fact that the developers of Firefox (or any other browsers for that matter) targets the users who have dial-up connection. They assume that if they can make the browser perform decent for the dial-up users then obviously the high-speed internet connection users will get a better speed performance. But that’s not the case all the time. That’s when FireTune comes in to speed up Firefox to the extreme.
Follow these steps to configure FireTune to optimize Firefox to get better speed,
Close all of the Firefox instances that’s running on your computer. FireTune will fail if Firefox is running, so close all the instances of Firefox on your computer.
Once you run FireTune it asks you to backup Firefox configuration. Just click on the “OK” button.
When FireTune launches click on the “Create backup of configuration” button as shown above. FireTune will acknowledge with a “Backup successfully created!” message once done.
Click on the “Performance Optimizations” tab if the focus is on another tab. Here you can choose the type of computer and internet connection that you have. In my case I have a fast computer and a really high speed internet connection, so I chose “Fast computer/Fast connection” option. Choose the one that applies to you the most.
Click on the “Other Optimizations” tab and make sure to check the “Enable some performance tweaks common to all configurations” option.
Click on the “Other Useful Settings” tab and make sure to check the “Optimize Firefox memory usage” option.
Click on the “Tune it!” button once you are ready to let FireTune do its job.
FireTune will optimize your Firefox installation to the chosen settings and will notify you of the status like above. The message to restart Firefox is erroneous. Since there is no instance of Firefox running there is no point of restarting Firefox. Anyways, ignore the details of the success message and just go ahead and launch Firefox.
You should be able to see a remarkable improvement in the performance of your Firefox browser.
In case if things go wrong you can always use the “Restore original configuration” button to restore your Firefox configuration to an earlier stage. Things will be back to normal if you use this option, if you have to.
When XP first appeared, there was a lot of conversation about the new interface, both good and bad. In spite of the initial complaints, most users stick with the default settings rather than reverting to the Classic interface found in previous Windows versions. But you might want to change the delay you notice when you click the Start menu. I see no reason for there to be any delay when I click the Start menu. Effects are pretty, but I wouldn’t click it if I didn’t have business inside, so let’s get it open and get moving. The default speed can be adjusted with a quick Registry hack.
Go to the Registry key
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\MenuShowDelay. The default value is 400. Set it to 0 to remove the delay completely, but if you do that it will be nearly impossible to move the mouse fast enough not to activate All Programs if you mouse over it enroute to your final selection. Pick a number that suits your style, make the change, and then test it until you find a good compromise between speed and usability.
Place Windows Kernel into RAM
It’s a given that anything that runs in RAM will be faster than an item that has to access the hard drive and virtual memory. Rather than have the kernel that is the foundation of XP using the slower Paging Executive functions, use this hack to create and set the DisablePagingExecutive DWORD to a value of 1. Perform this hack only if the system has 256MB or more of installed RAM! Edit the Registry key
to 1 to disable paging and have the kernel run in RAM (set the value to 0 to undo this hack). Exit the Registry and reboot.
Alter Prefetch Parameters
Prefetching (the reading of system boot files into a cache for faster loading) is a commonly overlooked component that can have a significant impact on system boot time. This tweak allows you to select which components will make use of the prefetch parameters. To see which files are gathered using each setting, clear the prefetch cache located at C:\Windows\Prefetch and then enable one of the settings listed in this hack. Clear the cache and repeat
for each setting. Set the Registry key
to 0 to disable prefetching, 1 to prefetch application launch files, 2 to prefetch boot files, or 3 to prefetch as many files as possible.
Disable 8.3 Name Creation in NTFS
Files that use the 8.3 naming convention can degrade NTFS drive performance. Unless you have a good reason for keeping the 8.3 naming convention intact (such as if you’re using 16-bit programs), a performance gain can be achieved by disabling it. Set the Registry DWORD key
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem\NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation to 1. Exit the Registry and reboot.
While the world cries slowdown and news of companies downsizing makes headlines, crystal ball gazing on emerging careers might not be the order of the day.
But such is the Indian growth story that apart from expansion in the sunrise sectors, entirely new opportunities that never existed will also open up for jobseekers.
“According to the International Business Report, 2008, by consultancy firm Grant Thornton International, India alone will make up 30 per cent of the worldwide net increase in employment with 142 million new jobs by 2020,” says Sampath Shetty, vice president, permanent staffing, TeamLease Services, a staffing solutions company.
Growth stimulus: “The vast middle class, strong income growth, favourable demographic patterns and organised retailing growth estimated at 40 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next few years are some of the factors that will drive the retail boom,” says Rajeev Gaur, COO, TimesJobs.com, an online jobs database.
Requirements: “The need would be around 15,000-20,000 people in each of these retail chains. So, in all, the requirements would touch 80,000-85,000 every year in the next three to four years, of which frontline sales staff will be 80-85 per cent,” says Vishal Chhiber, head, HR of Kelly Services India, an HR solutions firm.
The remaining jobs, says Nihar Ranjan Ghosh, senior VP HR, Spencer’s Retail, “will be in retail-specific areas like visual merchandising, plannogramming (the science of maximising space efficiency in the store) and supply chain management. Retail management graduates and general MBAs will be wanted.
Real Estate/ Infrastructure
Growth stimulus: Growth in infrastructure and real estate developments with gradual opening up of FDI in certain sub-sectors will be the main reasons for the boom. “The percentage of middle class people in metros and Tier-2 cities who are buying their own property has increased from about 35 per cent in 2003 to 60 per cent today,” says Prodito Sen, VP marketing and corporate affairs, Alpha G: Corp Development, a real estate developer.
Requirements: “This will recreate a need for civil engineers, a tribe we forgot during the IT boom,” says Shabbir Merchant, chief value creator, Valulead Consulting, a leadership development firm. “The requirement is for 1.5 lakh engineers if the land bank we have is to be translated into construction,” says Chhiber. Infrastructure projects would need more such engineers.
“Other functions like residential and commercial real estate brokers, real estate appraisers, property mangers and real estate consultants would also be in demand,” says Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, a property advisor and transaction firm.
Growth stimulus: Hospital chains are expanding all over India, even in smaller towns.
Requirement: “An acute shortage of doctors is expected over the next few years, especially anaesthetists, radiologists, gynaecologists and surgeons, particularly neurosurgeons. The need would be for 45,000-50,000 doctors for the 50-odd healthcare companies expected to start operations in India,” says Chhiber.
“People with a Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA) will be in demand as they are key elements to a hospital’s efficiency,” says Vishal Bali, CEO, Wockhardt Hospitals Group. A study by consulting firm Technopak says, “Many big hospital projects have either been delayed or stopped because of this manpower shortage.”
“With the rule of thumb being four MHA people per hospital, around 2,000 hospital chains will need 8,000 such people over the next five years,” adds Bali.
In pharma, demand will be created in research and development (R&D). The requirement would be for 15,000-20,000 scientists every year. “Another area which would see a demand is pharma regulation and documentation officers,” says V Suresh, senior vice-president and national head (sales), Naukri.com, an online jobs portal.
Growth stimulus: There will be a lot of new entrants and existing players diversifying with new product lines.
Requirements: “A lot of portfolio managers — not necessarily fund managers, but those who manage portfolios beyond a certain amount — will be required. They will be working with banks and financial institutions. The requirement will be for 25,000-30,000 every year,” says Chhiber.
Suresh adds, “The salaries in private banking would be 200-300 per cent more than in retail or corporate banking.”
Judhajit Das, HR chief of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, foresees maximum jobs growth in retail financial services, with 80 per cent of them being in sales and distribution. The biggest employers will be the insurance and banking sector,” he says.
Gaur has some numbers: “Over 50,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the banking, financial services, and insurance sector in the current year. Banks are expected to hire 15,000-20,000 people in the next one year.”
Growth stimulus: With hotel rooms being added across the country at a rapid rate to keep up with growing tourist inflow, hi-tech townships being developed and malls and multiplexes coming up at every corner, people will be needed to service and maintain them.
Requirements: “Over 2.5 lakh rooms will be needed in the next five years to meet the demand from both the domestic and international guests. Over the next two or three years, we will need over 1 lakh more rooms. An average of 1.5 service personnel per room will mean an overall shortage of at least 1.5 lakh people across a whole range of hotel-related jobs in India, especially food production, food and beverage services, housekeeping and front office operations,” says Satish Jayaram, principal, Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad.
According to Chhiber, the manpower growth prediction for facilities management is 20-25 per cent. Ashwin Puri, CEO, Property Zone, a firm that develops and manages shopping centres says, “Technical maintenance people need to understand aspects such as provision of adequate power supply, safety issues, water supply, sanitation, signages, and so on. For soft services, hospitality management experience is preferred.” A mall will need five to six such managers.
Growth stimulus: With existing businesses growing more complex and numerous startups on the cards, there will be demand for consultants specializing in human resources (HR) and startups.
“Apart from recruitment specialists, another area of demand in the HR space will be ’employer brand specialists’ as organisations move away from a me-too approach and actively seeking differentiation,” says Merchant.
Requirements: Considering that with every 50-75 people recruited, one HR job gets created, TimesJobs.com estimates that 28,000 more HR jobs will be created in 2008.
Gautam Ghosh, senior manager, HR consultancy Tvarita Consulting, foresees an explosion in demand for start-up consultants and business strategists as more and more consumer-oriented portals mushroom across the country.
Growth stimulus: There would be about two new TV channels every month and 20-25 new FM channels every year.
Requirements: “About 4,000-5,000 people will be directly employed by TV channels every year,” says Chibber.
“In radio, the demand would be for production people, anchors, technical and distribution sales professionals: jobs for 2,500 people in the next two years,” he adds.
Growth stimulus: “Despite stagnation in the industry, a lot of project-based or contractual hiring and increasing domestic IT requirements would lead to organic growth,” says Chhiber.
Requirements: Veerendra Mathur, CEO, Focus Infotech, a strategic IT HR and managed solutions firm, says, “Professionals who have a holistic knowledge and can do multitasking like coding, testing, designing and communicating with clients will be in demand.”
“India will need 4.9 lakh professionals in the IT exports market, 11.1 lakh in the domestic IT industry and 20.5 lakh in the ITES-BPO sector by 2012,” says Chhiber.
Growth stimulus: Companies will put more and more stress on customer service to stay ahead of the competition.
Requirements: According to Chhiber, frontline technicians who have skills required to service and manage customers will be in demand. “About 1.5 lakh trained people every year would be needed,” he adds.
Growth stimulus: The telecom industry is growing faster in small towns and will also see a lot of organic growth. Jobs will also emerge in telecom when people employed here opt to shift to other emerging sectors.
Requirements: “The employment growth rate in telecom industry is expected to increase by seven per cent to ten per cent every year,” says Gaur. “Jobs in demand would be telecom, mechanical, software and telecom test engineers, project managers, network security specialists and operation managers.” According to data from FICCI, telecom will see 0.5 million new jobs by 2010 and 1.5 million by 2015.
Ghosh stresses the increasing demand for people who have a blend of two functional skills, like a financial services person with business and marketing skills. “In a dynamic job space in a growing economy,” he sums up, “people with the right skill sets will always be sought after.”
From closeted cabins to open offices, we sure have come a long way. Everywhere you look, closed confines are giving way to open spaces in workplaces in different industries. As Suniti Joshi, an interior designer and planner in Mumbai says, “It is cost-effective, and you can accommodate more people in the given area. Open plan offices are economical because heating or cooling the workspace is done easily. Also, if the layout needs to be rearranged, or a few extra work stations accommodated, it can be done quickly and without too much additional cost.”
Apart from the obvious practical value, open offices may very well be a way of ‘breaking down’ walls and repositioning one workplace as one with a more ‘open’ culture. Some like Solomon Abraham, Practice Lead at Ikya Human Capital Solutions, are all for it. “Open spaces are one of the best things to happen in India. They energise employees, knowledge flow is quick and accurate, and performances are at an all time high.”
Some like Pragya Thakur, Circulation Business Director at a consumer-publishing group, are not so keen on it for strong reasons that delve beyond the obvious. “I suppose people thought open offices would promote more sociability and dissolution of hierarchical perceptions. Of course, that didn’t happen because those who are higher up in the corporate food chain still have their window offices with the spectacular views.”
Well, whatever be the intent behind the concept of open offices and whether we want them or not, offices and their cultures are opening up in more ways than one. If you happen to work in one of these open offices, there are some ‘unwritten’ rules you might want to follow to keep your work environment conducive and productive.
Here’s how to work effectively and make the most of your open office:
Use the receiver unless you must have your team members in the conference call. Make sure others around are not getting disturbed, or use it only late in the evening when the office has emptied out. Also avoid chatting in groups around others’ desks. If you wish to convey something, especially unpleasant, use a closed room to avoid any embarrassment.
As Jagdeep Kaur, Senior Curriculum Developer, Oracle, says, “Working in open spaces becomes very uncomfortable when one is dealing with confidential content on one’s computer. You never know when who might see what, especially if you have a nosy neighbour. This puts a strain on you to be alert and on your guard at all times, which becomes very inconvenient and tiring after a while.”
Pragya concurs, particularly with regard to lunchtime. “There’s the thing about watching people eat their lunches at their desks, or being watched eating one’s own lunch. We live a large chunk of our lives in our offices, at our desks, and it really affects our quality of life when nothing we do or say in those hours is private.”
Some elements, especially social butterflies, are in constant need to touch base with people and can end up at anybody’s work station without considering the fact that others might be busy and not in the mood to spend time gossiping. It can be is very annoying when people land up at your desk without any intimation while you are trying to either meet a deadline or focus on your work.
Avers Jagdeep, “I have always enjoyed working in open spaces and have never found myself yearning for a cabin or closed private space of my own. In offices, I like being able to just turn around and speak to my neighbours. Or, just stand up and look around and just gesture to attract their attention whenever I need help. Proximity also helps team members bond with each other.”
Suniti too feels that open offices make communication and supervision easier. “Issues and problems reach the management very fast as they too are part of the central office space, and therefore solutions are arrived at faster.”
A few other dos and don’ts:
Avoid strong perfumes/deodorants: Some colleagues might be allergic to strong smells and odours. It’s better to keep it light and soft. Also be mindful of food and feet odours that are far from pleasant and hang in the confines of air-conditioned environment for a while.
Health and hygiene: When you sneeze or cough, cover you mouth or use a tissue. Do not leave used tissues lying around to spread germs and diseases.
Sit up straight: Slouching indicates laziness and disinterest in work. And, that’s the last thing you would want your colleagues and bosses to perceive.
Keep your soft board non-offensive: Watch what you put up on the soft board so that your colleagues are not offended. Avoid jokes or cartoons of a sexual, racist or political nature, these could stir up tensions or make colleagues uncomfortable.
Don’t wriggle your way through work stations: Use the designated passages/ aisles instead of wriggling and maneuvering your way through people’s work stations and chairs. A little discipline never hurt anyone.