How to Make Coffee

Obviously, automatic coffee makers with hot water supply are too challenging, so here is a step-by-step guide:

1) Pull filter basket out
2) Put a new coffee filter in the basket.
3) Open coffee packet.
4) Pour coffee in basket.
5) Put filter basket back in place.
6) Rinse out near empty carafe.
7) Put carafe back.
8) Hit green/start/brew/on button.

How to Make Coffee

Obviously, automatic coffee makers with hot water supply are too challenging, so here is a step-by-step guide:

1) Pull filter basket out
2) Put a new coffee filter in the basket.
3) Open coffee packet.
4) Pour coffee in basket.
5) Put filter basket back in place.
6) Rinse out near empty carafe.
7) Put carafe back.
8) Hit green/start/brew/on button.

Do Not Mess with the Flow of Coffee

New coffee maker
Image by scriptingnews via Flickr

I know times are tough, and that we need to save money wherever we can.


*ahem* Please, excuse me for yelling.  The supply of coffee to your workers is as vital to the productivity of your office as the supply of gasoline is to the transportation system.

Some things not to do without careful analysis and communication to your workers:

  • Requiring workers to pay for the office coffee.
  • Changing the supplier of the coffee to your break room.
  • Changing the model of coffee maker to a cheaper one.  (You had better make sure it can actually handle the load that your office staff will put on it.)
  • “Going green” by no longer supplying cups. It’s best to get acknowledgment in writing from every one of your employees, lest a revolt break out due to the inability of people to actually get coffee, or worse, people taking the carafes as coffee mugs.


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It’s Just Like Elementary School

Remember the days when you were in school, and some kid in your class would do something while the teacher wasn’t looking? Then, the teacher would demand that the person come forward or the whole class would be punished?

Ok, maybe that still occasionally happened in high school, or in training for a military service branch. You’re using peer pressure to the enforce the rules. In the high school case, it’s because the mutual pressure of a student’s peers is stronger than any reasonably proportional punishment you can deal out, especially if you have no clue who did it. In the military case, it’s to drive home the concept that every little thing you do impacts the entire team.

Of course, at work, everything you do has the potential to impact your team. However, I doubt that one team member’s choice to wear jeans with partially exposed backsides should be met with taking away the privilege of wearing jeans for the entire office. It should be met with some sort of HR or law enforcement action, depending on how bad the offense really is.

But suppose some people are just pushing the rules too far: If people are wearing pajamas to work, then those people should be told by their managers to stop. If entire teams are doing it, obviously the managers are not getting the message through. Even if there is a failure on enforcing some policy on the part of one manager, there shouldn’t be a company-wide change in response. The solution still lies with one person.

…or you could just treat us all like we’re back in elementary school. Class, we’re all going to have to stay after school because Johnny didn’t get his work done.  Oh, wait. That still happens.

Never mind, forget this whole post.

Cubicle Maze

If you search Google for “cubicle maze”, you’ll find about half a million results. Many people have made connection between cube walls and the the walls of a maze.

Under normal circumstances, the wall angles are where the resemblance ends. However, after years of reworking office layouts and adding height to some walls for privacy, the plentiful aisles and virtual hallways begin to disappear. The contorting of sections of office has the same scrambling effect that turning random sides on a Rubik’s cube has.

After hitting one too many dead ends trying to get to the elevator, I’m wondering if the fire marshall should be called. I mean, is there a clear evacuation path for everyone in the building? Are all the people in the office able get out of the area in which they’ve been walled in? Do they jump the walls to enter and exit their cubes?

Maze, found on

Look Out for the Cubicle Police

I’m curious what the ROI of enforcing rules such as these are:
  • No more than 3 personal items on your desk.
  • No obscuring the translucent partitions.
  • No whiteboards.

Rules like these require either a system put in place to snitch on your fellow coworkers or someone to watch for violations as part of their job.

This isn’t to mention rules such as the following:

  • No window seats below a certain pay grade.
  • No cubes above a certain shape and size below a certain pay grade.
  • No non-fixed tables for certain cube types.
  • Only one chair per cube.
  • Contractors can only have a single desk and not a cube.

These rules often require a lot of effort, such as tearing down and rebuilding all of the cubes, just to be in compliance.



Office Supply Micromanagement

If there’s one cost-saving pursuit that seems tremendously disproportionate to its savings in terms of benefits, it’s micromanaging the use of and access to office supplies.

Let’s say that, it terms of salary and benefits, your average office worker costs $100,000 per year. Assuming two weeks vacation, that employee spends about 2000 hours in the office. That’s $50 per hour.

Now let’s say that an average employee uses 4 reams of paper per year (at about $12), an entire toner cartridge worth $31, and 5 fairly nice office supply cabinet pens worth $15. I’m making these numbers up, but I think they’re fairly reasonable upper limits for the average employee.

If you have 1000 employees using this much in office supplies, is it really worth devoting a major portion of any worker’s time to more effective management of office supplies? Do you really need a gatekeeper? Are you afraid your employees having being stealing office supplies so that they can retire early?

The follies of flex-time

The invention of flex-time brought with it the dawn of a new era in the workplace. An age of freedom and flexibility, resulting in unprecedented happiness and fulfillment. Certainly flex-time went a long way in eliminating grumpiness in our coworkers.  Right?

For those of you still working in the Dark Ages of precisely prescribed starting and quitting times, here is a brief description of the golden age of “flex-time”.  (Try not to weep over what you are missing.)

Flex-time is when my boss flexibly leaves at 3:30pm for a round of golf with her fellow bosses, on the day when I need her final approval of presentation materials I just finished at 4:00pm for tomorrow’s meeting.

Not to worry, I determine to make use of flex-time myself. I arrive the next day at 7:00am to finish preparing and printing the handouts for the 9:30am presentation, only to discover the person with access to the printer supplies for the out-of-ink printer won’t flexibly arrive until 9:00am.

When Mr. Printer Supply Person finally arrives at 9:15am (darn that traffic!), I don’t see any dark circles under his eyes, and he seems very well rested and cheery.  But regretfully (so he says) he cannot help me because he’s already 15 minutes late for the Printer Supplies Department’s weekly staff meeting.

Though my meeting presentation was a bust, behold! All is not lost! Because I arrived at 7:00am, flex-time allows me to leave at 3:30pm today. I think I will get in a round of golf myself before dinner.

That is, until my boss trumps flexibility, and schedules a meeting at 4:00pm to discuss why my presentation didn’t have handouts. Gotta love this flex-time invention!


Wrong number … again

I do not work in the Parts Department. I have never worked in the Parts Department. You would think after working in this office as long as I have, I would stop getting calls for the Parts Department.

I can understand the need to reuse extension numbers within an office building. What I cannot understand is the frequency that I have the following conversation.

“Hello, this is Mr. Grumpy, in Marketing. How may I help you?”
“Yes…” <pause> “Is Denise there?”
“What part of my greeting did you not understand, sir?”
“Is this 111-1234?”
<pause> “Well, I am looking for Denise in the Parts Department.
This is the number I got from the phone listing.”
“Sir, I can assure you that nobody named Denise is hiding in my cubicle. Just out of curiosity, is there a date on your phone listing?”
<longer pause> “Uh, it looks like 1995.”
“Gee, that’s a shock. Would you like me to transfer you to the Operator now?”

Bathroom math

Question #1: If there are 5 floors in my office building, and 1 set of men/women bathrooms on each floor, how many bathrooms are there on the 2nd floor where I work?

Answer: Not nearly enough!

Question #2: If the bathroom cleaning lady cleans the bathroom on my floor between 12:30pm and 12:57pm, how many minutes does it take her to clean the bathroom?

Answer: That’s right at the end of our lunch break, lady! There are 150 cross-legged people who agree that you take WAY too long to clean this bathroom.

Question #3: If the bathrooms on my floor are being remodeled and are closed for 6 weeks, how many enemies will I make for regularly occupying one of the 3 functional toilets on the next floor up or down?

Answer: It takes SIX WEEKS to remodel a bathroom??? You have got to be kidding me and my bladder!

Question #4: How many empty soda cans does it take to do the work of 1 toilet while my bathroom is being remodeled?

Answer: I have absolutely no idea!  And I don’t care how many dirty looks I get from those first floor jerks, I am NOT going to find out!

Question #5: If the first floor bathroom takes 50% as long to remodel as the one on my floor took, how many weeks will it be closed?

Answer: Who cares – it’s payback time! “Sorry Mr. First Floor Jerk, this stall is going to be occupied until the cleaning lady comes back. Try the 5th floor, I think there is 1 functional toilet up there.”