As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Why work when you can talk?

The hardest lesson for any new entrant to the labour market, is that doing a good job, isn't good enough. Not only are you expected to put in long hours and surrender your dreams, but you are also expected to throw off the shackles of common decency and recreate yourself in the image of an aggressive bull elephant with a penchant for cocaine. Trumpeting loudly and regularly about your achievements is as much a necessity of work as feigning interest in Linda's latest photomontage of her children dressed as Christmas elves. If you wish to reach the dizzying heights of "Sub-team Junior Office Manager" then you must carefully observe, and lovingly recreate, this absurd ceremony.

The first rule of “Work Club” is, ‘Always talk about work club.’ Nobody likes a shrinking violet or a modest mouse, so “career advancers” will ensure that they talk regularly and loudly about their daily endeavours. The occasional sigh or a well placed mopping of the brow helps to maintain the illusion that every part of their being is dedicated to the pursuit of hard labour. What’s that you say? Can’t the quality of their work speak for itself? How charmingly naive you are. Actual work is practically redundant in the modern workplace. An aging relic of the past, work has been superseded by the flexing of vocal cords and the “CCing” of important figures into the obligatory daily ‘update’ email. Remember, talk is cheap, so there is no need to employ your intelligence if it is easier to just talk about it.

The second rule of “Work Club” is, “Don’t listen when you can talk.” In order to secure the position of ‘Alpha-Employee,’ career advancers will ensure that they take every opportunity to air their ill-informed opinion. To ensure that there are no challenges to their position, they will continue to spout drivel until one of two possible outcomes has been achieved. The first outcome is that all life within the room will eventually diminish as oxygen is converted into a toxic mixture of carbon dioxide and unadulterated bile by the career advancer’s lungs (many offices now install foliage to redress the oxygen/bile balance through the process of photosynthesis). The second outcome is that the tactic will pay off and thanks to time constraints preventing other people from speaking, the career advancer will appear more involved and more committed than any other employee.

The final rule of “Work Club” is, “What’s boring for you is news worthy for others. This is a rule that many first time career advancers fail to grasp, and for this reason, many fail before their careers have even begun. It is best to illustrate this rule by means of an example. Let us imagine that, in response to being unable to find your stapler, you decide to reorganise your desk. This may seem like a fairly mundane task to you, but for the career advancer, this represents an opportunity to broadcast details of the essential and important work that they have been conducting in the field of workplace layout management. Having arranged a team meeting and prepared an eighteen page PowerPoint deck, they proudly talk you through their new desk layout. The rationale behind this is to show their employers that, not only is every aspect of their job stimulating, but, since nobody else had previously undertaken workplace layout management, there would be nobody to drive forward these advances should they be made redundant.

Whilst “Work Club” may seem like a strange and alien place now, with practice and commitment you will gain the confidence to stop working and start talking. As British X-Factor winner Joe McElderry says, “Never give up on your dreams!”

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