THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Over and out: Five workplaces practices to kill

The following five workplace practices deserve to die. Now.

1. Voice mail

It will come as news to most people over 30 that most people under 30 do not leave voice mail messages. Think about it: voice mail takes a long time to retrieve and it's almost never earth-shattering, so it's not worth the time it requires. 

Young people treat their list of missed calls as a page system. They call the person back. No extra step for listening to the message. Except at work, where the old people leave messages. 

2. The reply-to-all button

This button should be hidden in all email software. You should have to click through five menus to find the option because that's how many times you should reconsider before you reply to all. This was a great button to have in 1993 when even the busiest people got only 50 emails a day. Back then reply to all was a way to have an inclusive conversation.

Now reply to all is only a way to annoy people and make yourself look foolish.

3. The workplace candy machine

I'm not saying that work should be paternalistic; I'm saying that your employer should not be a crack dealer. And when I have sat within 20 yards of a candy machine, I felt like I had a drug dealer on my block. It's very, very difficult for me to have a problem at work and not let my mind wander to chocolate. And I'm not even overweight. So I can imagine it's much harder for people who are already not controlling their eating.

So I wonder, who feels good about the candy machine? The vendor, probably. But everyone else feels like crap after they eat a bag of M&M's, and if you don't feel like crap, your body has acclimated to crap and the first culprit you should consider is the workplace vending machine.

4. Soliciting money at work

What's up with people asking for sponsorships at work? Why do we need to solicit at work for our charities? Why is that socially acceptable? I don't need my co-workers to choose my charities. They can choose their own.

Also, what's up with six-figure paycheck types asking me to sponsor them? Hello? Write yourself a check.

My bitterness over workplace check-writing comes from a few things. Once I was actually forced to go to a meeting in the middle of the workday about why it's important to give to United Way. To me this felt like mixing church and state. I go to work to earn money, not to be told what to spend it on.

Second, I was the number-one Girl Scout in Illinois for cookie sales two years in a row. How did I do it? My mom sold the cookies at her office. So I know the genesis of all those parents passing around a coffer for their kids' stuff: guilt. Instead of making your co-workers cough up bucks for your kids' escapades, try being personally involved. Then you won't feel so compelled to make up for it with money.

5. The 800-person office party

The only thing a party like this is good for is anonymous hookups with the marketing girl you see in the hallway on Thursdays. Otherwise, there's no point in a party this big. It's way more fun to go out with people you really do work with after work.

It used to be that a big office party was a way to know your company cares. Now you know your company cares if they siphon money off to training programs. And you know what? Good training is so fun, it's like a party anyway.



Where's the ‘reply-to-all’ button for this comment form. I want to make sure everyone reads my comment.

Here's my breakdown

1 - If you don't leave me a voicemail then I'm not calling You back. Simple as that. If it wasn't important enough for a message then the call isn't important enough to get returned. And I'm 21, so that logic can fly out the window.

2 - I'll admit, it should be harder to reply to everyone that it is to only reply to the sender. But 5 menus is crazy. How about an "Are you sure you want to do this" pop up?

3 - Control your own eating practices, and I'll control mine. I'll agree that it might be a better idea to not have it sitting where you can see it from the desk, but to get ird of it entirely is a bit much.

4 - No argument there, and this includes the kid's fundraisers as well.

5 - How often are you talking here? The once or twice a year event shouldn't have to go.

I hate charitable collections that come round at work. In our case though it’s almost compulsory, because they disguise it as “dress down days” or “jeans days”, so if you don’t want to part with your pound coins you have to come to work in your usual work wear while everyone else is wearing jeans. The people that collect the money don’t even tell you what charity you’re giving to any more, they just come round and say “dress down day” and expect you to give them a pound. I’ve taken to going to the toilet if I see them in time.
This week the bosses are all on holiday. In England it’s “half-term” so all the kids are off school, so all the parents (mostly the bosses) are spending “quality time” at home. So being next rung down the ladder I’m making up my own posters for “dress down Friday” and not collecting for anything.

Read more about our English office behaviour on

If there’s one thing that annoys me more than dress down day it’s Children in need day. Already there’ve been people round (in twos for some reason) selling raffle tickets on all of the floors. Imagine the cost in man hours that some manager has allowed these people to go swanning off round the building for most of the day. It does make you wonder if the people that they send round are of the same calibre as our Clive, and they probably don’t miss them too much, or even get more work done with them gone. Anyway, it’s annoying enough on the day with people coming round for collections or raffles, when people are stuck at their desk trying to work. Like dress down day, I try and avoid the collections. If I see them coming I’ll pick my moment to go to the lavatory or go and ask a colleague something, further down the office. I’m already supposed to be paying £1 for the privilege of dressing down on the day. Then when you get home they’ve taken anything decent off the TV in order to beg for money all night. If you go out you are hassled by collectors wherever you go, even at the supermarket. I think they would raise more money by not doing it and people would be happy to pay for not having to go through the hassle.