The Office Well-Being Executive Manager

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The corridors of corporate life used to experience it at least once a day, typically around 3 PM. Those of you with a longer memory say it also occurred in the morning, but alas, those days are reluctantly gone, possibly, never to be repeated.

The eagerly awaited activity heralded an opportunity to have a short break from your normal work routine and to refresh your mind with small morsels of needed sustenance.

It was a welcome time for all pens to be lowered, inky nibs blotted, and writing paper pushed aside on your desk to make room for the appreciated earthenware additions.

For a brief few minutes, the worker could engage in a pseudo-flirtatious social dialogue and build a non-threatening personal rapport with the service provider, who was usually wearing a bland coloured corporate pinafore apron. Their official work title was “Tea Lady”, but they were the backbone of many successful organizations.

No office door was ever closed to the Tea Lady. They traversed the building pulling a trolley that was equipped with a large teapot, hot water, coffee, milk, a selection of biscuits (or cakes if you were lucky), and an array of cups and saucers, some of which occasionally matched. Their arrival could be heard well before they reached your desk, owing to the rattling of the crockery and the heightened conversation that they would always generate.

The role of Tea Lady was an unrecognized strategic cog in the corporate organizational hierarchy as they were privy to all levels of the business, from senior management, right down to the new starter or graduate. They could sense the mood of the corporate office, whether it was dynamic and innovative, or one that was struggling and ready to implode. The Tea Lady became the confidant of many employees, a person that they could talk to about work, home-life or their personal ambitions.

Business today needs a modern version of the Tea Lady, which would probably now have the more acceptable corporate title of “Office Well-Being Manager”. Many organizations have tried to foster various methods of casual communication within the corporate office with the introduction of “Chatter”, “Yammer” and other electronic applications, but none have been as effective as the old fashioned Tea Lady.

So why not reinvigorate the Tea Lady role with a more modern version?

Many employees want to have access to their senior management team, but may be too shy or a tad embarrassed to engage them in an open forum. One solution is to have a weekly (or monthly) roster where your Executive Team takes it in turns to be “Office Well-Being Executive Manager”. Yes, they would walk the office corridors with an electric powered beverage trolley fully equipped with the latest coffee (short black, long black, latte, cappuccino, flat white), tea (Early Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, herbal), soymilk chai lattes, and a selection of cakes (high fat, low fat, gluten free) or fruit. Besides your Executive Team learning new catering skills that they can add to their already impressive CVs, they would have instantaneous access to the pulse of the business and an opportunity to gain an insight on the nuances of their staff (and vice-versa).

So, when next you plan to have a well-earned rest break from your computer, may I suggest that you first stop, and listen. Hopefully you will hear the buzz of your corporately branded electric beverage trolley as it happily approaches your desk. Bon appetite!

Chatter Vocabulary in the Air

Leather Seats

For those of you who travel regularly by plane, you will know the “joy” of being strapped into your allocated seat for a few hours. You have the smallest possible personal space, and those sitting next to you can be riveting company and fun to be with, or exceptionally dull – unfortunately the later being most common!

This got me thinking…how could we make this journey of travel more interesting and utilize the many creative skills of the passengers who are getting a tad bored?

One possible solution is to invite passengers to participate in an anonymous “chatter” group discussion on a selected brainstorming topic during the flight. To be included, they would press a special “call button” which adds their seat number into the discussion. A Flight Attendant then provides them with an electronic writing tablet that allows communication with the other interested passengers.

Chatter Texts with impressive vocabulary would be then start to quickly permeate through the cabin during the flight, for example:

Seat 12A:   “Oh yes, I agree with you, but have you considered….”
Seat 29D:   “Thank you 12A, but I think it should be expanded to include…”
Seat 1F:      “Interesting concept, particularly if you consider the habitat of the West Australian wombat…”
Etc, etc…

At the conclusion of the flight, those involved could elect to have a copy of the transcript E-mailed to them, just in case there were any creative gems of inspiration written!

To me, this would be a much better use of people’s travel time and would make the total plane experience much more interesting and potentially productive.

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