Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Taking Care of Business (Working From Home – Part 2)

The worst thing about working at home is the isolation.  You are doing work, but you are alone all day.  However, I am not truly alone.  I am assisted in my important corporate tasks by my miniature German schnauzer, Midnight.

The problem is Midnight never attended business school and thus lacks the business acumen necessary to be a good assistant.  He assumes the reason that I am now at home is to attend to his demands, not the company’s, and it is very different have a dog as a coworker.

Midnight sometimes smells and is very irritating.  Okay, so maybe I have had some coworkers over the years like that.  Midnight makes disgusting noises. Yes, once again I have heard that in the workplace.  And Midnight scratches himself in inappropriate places. Oh yeah, there was this guy who used to look at women during meetings and scratch his inner thigh with his middle finger.  Midnight is not nearly as obnoxious and irritating as that guy.

So maybe Midnight is more like a typical workmate than I thought.  And it does relieve some stress when he wants his head scratched during the day.  Yes you can pet your dog, but you can’t pet your coworkers.  Well actually you can pet your coworkers. However, if you get caught doing this with the administrative assistant in the back of the supply room, apparently the HR department gets very upset.  And if your HR manager is a fat, old, ugly, battleax, she is not going to understand your explanation and is going to put the incident on your “permanent record” which I’m sure is now in the possession of the government.

Midnight does have a workstation in my office which consists of a pillow and blanket so he can sleep while I do all the work.  If I try to keep him out of my office by closing the door he gets very offended, just like my old butthead
Midnight - taking care of business
 and working overtime
boss Steve.  If I closed my office door Steve would always find some stupid reason to barge in, even one time when I was having a very personal discussion on my lunch break.  And no, this discussion was not with the administrative assistant mentioned earlier.  We held all our important “discussions” in the supply room.

Midnight has mastered one business technique, the ability to sleep through long, boring, conference calls.  We are all talking and yakking away and Midnight just enjoys a very deep sleep.  But sometimes the sleep is even too deep.

Boss (during conference call): Ake, is that you snoring?

Me: No sir, that was the dog.  I mean yes the meeting is boring, but it’s not that boring, I mean ….

Having the dog in the room during conference calls raises other issues as well:         

Boss: (during conference call): Ake, did you just fart?

Me: No sir, that was the dog.

Boss: But didn’t you say you had Mexican for lunch?

Me: Yes sir, but it was the dog. I swear it was the dog.

Midnight: Hell no it wasn’t me.  It was the double-bean burrito talking.

The most challenging aspect of having a dog as your work assistant is when he informs you five minutes before an important customer phone call that he has some business to conduct outside.  Midnight does not care about the call because he has a more “pressing” deadline to meet.  If I do not choose to take care of Midnight’s business first, there can be dire consequences.  Many times I have had coworkers figuratively crap on my project (Val the Bitch was great for this), but I have never had one literally do this.

So I leash Midnight and run out the door hoping that it is a quick trip.  Midnight however has other plans.  Just like I check for important e-mails, Midnight must check the yard for important p-mails.  Of course these p-mails all say the same thing.

“Midnight, I stopped by. Didn’t see you, so I peed in your yard”. - Rover

In response, Midnight replies:

Rover, smelled that you had been here.  Sorry I missed you, so I peed in the yard.

We think social networking is new.  Dogs have been using the program “Pisser” for eons.

So my dog really does know how to take care of business. I may have an M.B.A. but Midnight graduated from the esteemed Bachman-Turner School of Business.  It’s the work that he avoids, cause the dog’s self-employed.  He loves to work at nothing all day. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I’m Conducting Business Like A CEO – (Working From Home, Part 1)

After spending my entire business career in an office environment, I recently changed jobs and became a “telecommuter”.  Of course this is a misnomer, because in the digital age you can work from home and spend very little time actually on the telephone.

This obviously was a big change and I was worried about being “unconnected” and isolated.  Well I am definitely not unconnected; in fact I am over connected. I have my own “command center”.  I can now receive calls on three phones (business, home and cell), do FaceTime, and receive e-mails on two accounts. I fear the day when all three phones ring, I get “FaceTimed” and important e-mails arrive all at the same time.  I think trying to decide which one to answer first would throw me into “digital shock” which I doubt is covered by Obamacare.

The challenge is to make your home office seem as much like a real office as possible.  You need to do this so that you never realize you are actually at home.  If that ever happens, you will end up on the couch in your pajamas, eating Cheetos and watching ESPN all day.

There are major benefits to working at home.  Take the ten-step commute from the bedroom to the office chair.  Now on some days this can take longer if the doors are closed or if there is stuff on the floor I have to walk around.  In addition, it is great to have a private bathroom at work.  At three previous employers, the CEO had a private bathroom off their office.  One time during a meeting, I actually got to take a whizz in the executive toilet. It is one of the highlights of my business career.  And now I have an executive bathroom of my own where I can conduct my business in executive comfort, just like a CEO!  At my old job, my co-workers always complained about that “guy” who always stunk up the bathroom.  Well now I think they were full of it.  My bathroom at home smells just like the bathroom did at work, so I think that’s just how bathrooms are supposed to smell.

People think you can become dull and boring if you work at home, but nothing is further from the truth.  In fact I have become much smarter since I changed jobs.  As soon as I started working from home, my fantasy football team was virtually unbeatable.  I won the league and this was my first year of playing fantasy football ever!  Yes I am pretty smart. It was finding that rookie seventh-round draft-pick out of the Mississippi School for the Blind that won me the title (and the cash).

I am also much more popular since I started working at home.  My number of Facebook friends has doubled.  This includes Maya the young Filipino stripper who is trying to raise enough money to come to America to marry a wealthy businessman.  And Maya thinks I’m cute!  Hooyah!

Sometimes it is difficult to simulate a normal office environment.  For example, it is difficult to have “casual” Fridays when you are working in “sweats” all week.   I solved that problem by instituting “Pant-less Fridays”.  This was going swimmingly until the female UPS driver showed up one Friday with a delivery.  Now it could have been worse, not all of my neighbors heard the scream and nobody called the police.  Let’s just say I was happier to see her package than she was to see mine.
She was very happy - Before she opened the door!

And then on another Friday I was “FaceTiming” with our administrative assistant (who is based in Kentucky) when I had to stand up to reach some files.  You know I really have a problem with Apple calling something “FaceTime” when in reality people can see more than just your face.  I mean, who knew? That is just plain wrong.  I am just glad sexual harassment laws do not extend across state lines.

So I replaced “Pant-less Fridays” with “Underwear Optional Fridays”, which allows me to go commando in my command center.  Before you get too grossed out, I have yet to “exercise my option”.  But it’s nice to have the choice.

Next Time: Part 2 – My new assistant needs some business training