Monthly Archives: March 2013

No sex in the cupboard



I once worked for an advertising agency who were well known for their parties.

Over indulgence of very kind ruled and occasionally some unfortunate incidents resulted.  Before ‘compliance’ changed office parties the spirit of the age was entirely different to today.  Many people have a happy lack of memory of those times.

At a particularly enthusiastic party, a bright young account executive was caught in a coat cupboard with the wife of the MD of a very large account (people were not people to the Madmen – they were accounts).   Red faces ensued and an upset ‘Account’ removed a large amount of revenue.  Smart phones did not exist – so no photos were circulated of the entangled pair.

Next day our MD came to me and asked me to amend the company handbook so that it included a rule forbidding staff to have sex in coat cupboards with clients wives.  It took me some while to persuade him that this rule was too narrowly drawn – since it permitted sex in other locations, with other people who arrived with clients, and would give a rather odd impression to new recruits.

Since then I have reviewed countless contracts and staff handbooks and they often contain the strangest rules forbidding things that most of us would not think of doing at work.  Some of the strangest include “Do not set fire to your bible in the toilet”  and  “All emails must be copied to the MD”.

Policies and handbooks get longer as more things are forbidden.   Following some would even prevent work of any kind being done.  I once worked for a retail organisation who forbad staff to remain on the premises unaccompanied.  This worked fine when they owned only large stores but ran into a wall when they bought a chain of small stores, since having one member of staff off sick meant the store had to be closed to comply with the rule!.

This is typical ‘black hat’ thinking It’s no wonder that more than 60% of Which? readers said they had never read their contract.

“I never read mine I just threw it in a drawer”

“You only read them when things go wrong”.

Many new clients tell us they have issued contracts they don’t understand (or even don’t agree with) as they felt they had no control over what their contract said.

If all this sounds like a colossal waste of time and trees to you – you are right.

I heard a colleague talking to a client recently about drafting documents that documented success and not failure.  It set me thinking about how we are under using a fabulous tool in the employment relationship.

I recently attended a meeting of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA)  in London  and heard a wonderful talk by Richard Tyler Lake.  He talked about being a possibility architect.  The phrase really struck home with me.

What if we could make the ‘compliance’ side of contracts part of the structure for creating possibilities at work – instead of part of the structure of banning things?

We could have:

  • tent poles and tents for the organisations constantly on the go to wrap their canvas over when they need to hunker down.
  • prefabricated and customisable modern structures for people who are on a budget
  • individually designed open spaces with great views and flow for those who want to build change into the heart of their organisation

With that inspiring through in mind and a whole load of new tent poles and prefabs to make (and a few unique masterpieces to  finalise) I am dancing my way towards a new generation of paperwork that is not just a waste of perfectly good trees or something to prop the office door open with.

For tentpoles and canvas for freelancers click here

For prefabs and modern structures for employees click here

For individual designs or a free evaluation of your existing contract talk to us on 08452 303050

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