[IMGCAP(1)]Not so long ago, I wrote in this space about the painful demise of the hard stop. Once the mourning period was over, I began to notice other office strategies that were in even worse shape: Not only had they lost their efficacy in helping us deal with the nightmare that is modern office life, but in many cases they had actually reached the point where they often achieved the opposite of the affect they were intended for.
Here's a short list:
• Sending e-mails after hours or on weekends. This used to show that you were crazy dedicated, but now it means that you're not efficient enough to get all your work done between nine and five. It gets your employer wondering if they should hire people who work smarter, not harder.
• Autoreplying "I'm out of the office, with limited access to e-mail." Used to mean: "I'm lost somewhere deep in the Amazon, but I love my job so much that I will build a WiFi hotspot from coconut shells, fire ants and nose bones just to be able to answer a few e-mails." Now, since access to e-mail is pretty much universal, if someone gets this and then doesn't hear from you, they know you're screening your e-mails, and they didn't make the cut.
• The positive CC. Once upon a time, this was a great way to show off. On the pretext of keeping your superiors in the loop, you could let them in on how well you manage people, how well your team is performing, and how generally awesome you are. Now it means you have too much time on your hands. You should be doing a new thing, not sending out e-mails about how well you just did that old thing.
• The negative CC. In cases where you have to work with a crazy, unreasonable person, CCing your superiors (again, on the pretext of keeping them in the loop) used to be a handy way of saying, "Do you see the crazy, unreasonable people I have to work with?" Now it just suggests that you don't have the soft skills to manage awkward colleagues. (Separately, bear in mind that crazy people win all the time. If someone is crazy enough that you need to tell your superiors, your superiors already know all about it, and have no intention of getting involved. That is why crazy people win.)
• Using the Reply All button for any e-mail chain over three e-mails deep. Actually, this never meant anything good. Now, it means you think everyone else's time isn't valuable, don't read English well enough to tell the difference between "Reply" and "Reply All," or don't have the authority to resolve the issue, so you're hoping to hash it out in an endless series of e-mails.
It will not have escaped your attention that all of these boomeranging strategies are in the digital realm, where things change fast. New ones are being developed all the time, and haven't yet had a chance to return.
If you've spotted some of these, or want to lament a work-related coping strategy that's on its way out, make a comment below, or e-mail me at Daniel.Hood@SourceMedia.com.
Next week: I'll have limited access to e-mail
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