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The Workplace May 1, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Employees, Organizational Environment, Workplaces.

Do you think the way an office is set up has a direct correlation to employee moral, productivity, and job satisfaction? An April 2006 survey of more than 2,000 office workers commissioned by Gensler, a leading design firm, illustrates both the problems and the promise of workplace design. Nearly half of the respondents said they would work an extra hour a day if they had a better workplace environment. More than 90 percent reported that their office space affected their attitudes about work and that a different setup could make their companies more competitive. Yet employers seemed blind to the potential: Only 38 percent of workers said they would be proud to show important customers their workspace. About a third complained that it didn’t promote health and well-being. And almost half thought that creating a productive workplace was not a priority at their companies. It was a study by the Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation, that showed how the physical design of workspace had a direct effect on job satisfaction, productivity, and profitability in settings ranging from high-rises to laboratories. Companies with workplaces that encouraged more informal mingling of employees, for example, outperformed those that sequestered their staffs in amaze of cubicles.

General Services Administration decades ago: Of the total cost to a company for running an office building over a 30-year life span, the initial construction represents just 2 percent; operating expenses come to about 6 percent.

The remainder goes to paying the workers inside. The point should be obvious: People are the biggest cost inside a work environment, so leveraging your human capital ought to be near the top of your priority list. But, of course, it isn’t. What type of work environment would you like to be apart of? Are you a cubicle type of employee or more interactive?  If you were an employer what type of office would you set up?


Leaders April 17, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Workplaces.

In my Management 312 class we were talking about leadership and leaders today and I just wanted to get some feedback on the type of people you hope to work for in the future. What traits or characteristic would you like your boss to have? Would you like him/her to be the charming, jeans-wearing CEO whose dramatic unveiling of the Apple iPhone in January drove the stock up 8 percent by day’s end? Or is he/she been chronicled in several books, the classic jerk boss, notorious for belittling subordinates and business partners? Most people would say they would want the charming easy-going boss who knows how to talk to people but some individuals just do not respond to this type of boss. A number of employees need someone always looking over their shoulder making sure they are doing the right thing. What kind of employee are you?


A perfect boss doesn’t take care of those who work for him. He is much more effective than that. The perfect boss treats those who work for him as if they were his most important suppliers. Which, of course, they are. Their supply of services is his biggest personal dependency.



CEOs and top managers should be authentic, considerate, sensitive, and modest, as well as creative, smart, and strategically brilliant. It would be wonderful if workplaces were filled with leaders who behaved as polite, mature adults. Despite their track records of success, Apple, Oracle, and
Hollywood studios have lost a lot of talent to nasty behavior. But utopia is impossible, which is why management consultants and authors should stop talking so much about how to find an ideal leader and instead focus on placing people into jobs that play to their strengths – and where their flaws won’t be fatal.

Vacation policy at Netflix: Take as much as you want April 13, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Employees, Workplaces.

San Jose Mercury News – Vacation policy at Netflix: Take as much as you want
“The worst thing is for a manager to come in and tell me: `Let’s give Susie a huge raise because she’s always in the office.’ What do I care? I want managers to come to me and say: `Let’s give a really big raise to Sally because she’s getting a lot done’ – not because she’s chained to her desk.

They must be crazy you are saying. The employees would be lazy slobs! These “irrepsonisble” managers have employees who led the company to about $50 million in profit on $1 billion in revenue. With 1,300 employees.

more on Google April 3, 2007

Posted by Abby in blogs, Employees, Knowledge economy, Workplaces.

Hi all,

So I know we’ve all discussed Google at length, but while thinking of different organizations to tackle for the next paper, I decided to look at the ‘Official Google Blog’.


It’s well-known that Google’s organizational culture is definitely out of the ordinary, and is much more liberal and open than any other office, but I had no idea to what extent. This week, not an April Fool’s Day prank – someone lost their pet python IN THE OFFICE!

The organization has great ways for co-workers to bond, such as running a relay together. And is also very creative in holding events such as the ‘Live Art Day’ when an artist was invited to create a work right there, at Google headquarters! (There is a really cool video posted on the blog) They also had a Chinese ice sculptor.

On further investigation, Fortune Magazine also featured (through CNNMoney) the perks of being a ‘Googler’. Here’s a few of them:

  • Free car wash or oil change while you work
  • There are 11 free gourmet cafeterias on-site, as well as numerous cafes
  • If you want to be environmentally friendly, they will give you $5000 towards a hybrid car.
  • Just have a baby? Congratulations! Your employer will give you $500 to put towards take out meals at home, while you get through those first few months with the newborn.
  • You can get your haircut ‘on campus’
  • Free laundry machines to help balance home and work duties!


Wow, all that explains why they’re the #1 Company to Work for!

A Perfect Mess April 1, 2007

Posted by Brian Mulligan in environment, Workplaces.

I came across a book review in my search for interesting topic for a blog. I’m probably going to read this book, but thought the review for the book seems awesome for somebody who loves to be messy.

The title of the article is “Why Clean Up Your Desk? Delight in Disorder Instead.”

The article explains a lot about the book and how it is very similar to “The Tipping Point” and “Blink.” Basically, the book praises being messy. They use an example of a messy desk.

They say that it’s a great way to stay organized. The most important stuff is on the top and can be easily accessed in a time of need. The less important papers will make their way to the bottom of the stack. They also use Los Angeles as another example in the article.

They say that an unplanned city like LA makes it easier for people to access the most important establishments and restaurants. They also claim that it takes more time to be neat versus being messy and it may not be worth cleaning up all the time.

Do you think that its worth it? Do you like to be messy or neat? How does this effect an organization and it’s morals?

Baby boomers influence job growth March 21, 2007

Posted by Meg in outsourcing, sustainable development, Workplaces.

Throughout the past fifty years, baby boomers have influenced culture, politics, and the economy.  Now,  as this generation heads into retirement, it is apparent, more than ever, that they’ll be influencing the career paths those of the next generation (those born in the late 70s, 80s, and early 90s) choose to pursue.  In particular, health care professions are expected to have a 30% growth rate between 2004 and 2014.  Doctors and nurses are excluded from this category because of the education requirement.  Rather, positions such as medical and dental assistants, those of the lower-wage, lower-skilled category are expected to rise dramatically.  Other career paths expected to grow substantially are positions in the field of technology such as software engineers as well as those in education including college professors, the reason being that an emphasis on higher education has become more prevalent during the late twentieth century.

Several of these jobs, particularly those described above in the health care profession, seem to not only cater to the influence and needs of the baby boomer generation, but they also appear to bridge the salary gap existing between those with a bachelor’s degree and those with simply a high school diploma.  Obviously, a college professor needs an advanced degree as well as many software engineers.  More and more, however, blue-collar careers are also requiring education at least somewhat beyond high school.

As outsourcing continues to become a dominant strategy for many firms, an increase in jobs requiring at least a certain amount of post-high school education is relieving in my opinion.  It is a shame to see dedicated workers lose their jobs to those who can complete the same task for a lower wage.  A growth in professions though that can cater to these workers will hopefully stimulate the economy and promote a more educated U.S. citizen with a greater confidence in job security.

You have no Rights- Off Duty, On Notice March 20, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Business-Society Issues, Government, Workplaces.
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I can remember when I first realzed that the employment contract supercedes many of the rights we are taught to cherish as Americans. Do you remember the bill of rights that barely squeaked into the constitution?

American Prospect Online – Off Duty, On Notice
They’ll be bowling alone at Guardsmark tonight. The National Labor Relations Board NLRB doesn’t want the employees chatting it up off the job.

On June 7 the three Republican appointees on the five-member board that regulates employer-employee relations in the United States handed down a remarkable ruling that expands the rights of employers to muck around in their workers lives when they’re off the job. They upheld the legality of a regulation for uniformed employees at Guardsmark, a security guard company, that reads, “[Y]ou must NOT . . . fraternize on duty or off duty, date or become overly friendly with the clients employees or with co-employees.”

The issue came up because a union member (SEIU) asked the NLRB to look into this. What exactly does fraternize or “overly friendly” mean? If anyone would know, is it not Bucknell students, especially those who are part of fraternities? Is hanging out fraternizing? Being at the same social event even if you don’t talk to the other person?

The NLRB claims that it is clear that the policy is only meant to forbid dating among employees, a provision especially important for a security company. Critics disagree pointing out that now that it is precedent, the wording is broad enough to greatly expand the power of employers to control the choices of employees who are not on duty.

Is this a necessary precaution for companies? Or, is it Big Brother, but not of the government, but of your boss?

Alternative Workspaces March 20, 2007

Posted by Stacey Swift in environment, Internet, Technology, work-family balance, Workplaces.

The invention of the Internet made working from the home a possibility for many employees. Technology such as telephones, laptops, fax machines, and even web-cams helped to make home offices a great alternative for many people. Whether its being home with the kids or working on a different coast, people no longer need to leave their home in order to conduct business. Recently, people are discovering the advantages of “alternative work-spaces” rather than isolating yourself in a home office. Darius Roberts is a 27 year old starting a company that prefers to work out of a coffee shop rather than his apartment. Those who work at home often complain of loneliness and lack of a social network. With access to wireless and coffee and the opportunity to meet other developers he finds the coffee shop to be a productive “office.” In addition to informal work spaces such as coffee shops, more structured communal work spaces have been introduced. Roberts found a flyer for the Hat Factory, a community office space that offers a communal kitchen, a desk, private meeting room, and a lounge for just $10 a day or $170 a month. He says this encourages more meaningful connections than just a coffee shop. It is a great place for entrepreneurs to share not only resources but also ideas and network.

co-working facilities help fill the social needs people have as well—either informally, by simply bringing together a group of people with similar interests, or formally, through networking events, holiday parties, and even softball leagues.

Last week in class we discussed social networks. The use of technology has broken down many social networks, eliminating a lot of the personal interaction that used to be necessary. Do you think working from home is a good option? People do have social needs, does working from home destroy these social networks, or is being able to conference call to an office a sufficient alternative? I think as long as a certain level of personal interaction is maintained working from home can be a great alternative, especially for those with children. Additionally, for those who feel lonely at home or are just starting up a business I think the use of community offices is a great way to create social networks. People who would otherwise be working in isolation can share their ideas with others in similar situations. How much social interaction does one need to work?

What an interview! March 6, 2007

Posted by Abby in innovation, Workplaces.

More and more, some organizations have decided that the normal application/interview process is just too boring.  We need to see the real person and how they’re going to act – enter: something fun and different!

1.  I am going to use the State Department as my first example.  The Foreign Service exam has several parts.  First, the exam itself, is a test of current events and world knowledge.  Actually, my Dad told me that he got into the Foreign Service because a friend of him suggested he take the test after he had won a few games of, what was back then the “newest thing”: Trivial Pursuit.

Another part of the test is sometimes referred to as “the desk” or “inbox, outbox.”  Essentially, the applicant is placed told their title or position in the service, and that this is their first day.  Their inbox has several letters and notes that had been sent to their predecessor.  The task is to sort out all these things, and either 1 – throw them out, 2 – send them to the secretary to address to someone else, or 3 – note them on their ‘To Do’ list.  From this, you can see how the applicant might handle certain situations, and how they prioritize.

Examples of situations:

  • Your boss and his wife have extended a meeting to dinner;
  • An American citizen was killed while on safari;
  • Someone in the office has a complaint about a co-worker;
  • An American citizen lost their passport
  • An American citizen has been imprisoned for stealing, which, in this country, is punishable by death.
  • A prestigious company contact who worked closely with your predecessor would like to meet for lunch;
  • etc

2. My second example, is here at Bucknell.  To increase diversity, we have a Posse program – encouraging and providing underpriviledged overachievers to a college education.  First, these individuals must be nominated by their school, or district to be considered.  Their ‘interview’ process, however, is very different.  The kids get together and interact, while counsellors observe their behavior in different games or icebreakers.  This allows the natural leaders, planners and motivators to stand out.  The personal qualities may not always be apparent from a piece of paper.

** While these methods may be a lot of work for HRM, do you think they’d be more/less successful?

Terrible Worker March 6, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Workplaces.

Clark Glave does a thorough interviewing process of all his future employees which includes: a seven-page questionnaire that asked about such topics as job expectations and potential ethical dilemmas, person’s references, driving record, health record, and then asks for a drug test. This still did not prevent him from hiring the wrong type of worker. He did not reveal this person’s name but he said for the first couple of months everything was great but after Glave stopped making his routine checks everything went down hill. Why the sudden change? The employee began to get cocky, he started not showing up for work on Saturday, did not implement the new system for cataloging, and he complained that the workload was too much. Clark hired one of this worker’s friends to help with the implementation of the new catalog system and for the first couple of weeks everything was working well but it took a drastic change. Neither employee had established a system for tracking the 140 storage areas in the warehouse, the place was filthy, there were six cases of empty beer cans and bottles in my dumpster, and the wall it shared with an adjacent tenant had been bashed in. Why do employees abuse the power that they have? If Glave had established a better organizational culture would this have happened?

The productivity reading was revised to an annualized 1.6 percent pace, down from the original reading of 3.0 percent gain, according to government data on Tuesday. The slowdown in nonfarm business productivity, a measure of how much any given worker can produce in an hour, matched a forecast of analysts polled by Reuters.

Why are people working slower each year? Are we getting lazier as a country or is the workload getting more complicated? It might be a combination of both but no one really knows.