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Your Office Is Out to Get You

There are many ways to leave this vale of tears.

In 2011, 33 people died from eating cantaloupe. What could be more innocent than a cantaloupe? And yet, dipping a spoon into that innocuous pink flesh is as lethal as arm wrestling with a cobra.

And what about peanuts? So many people die from eating peanuts that I have no doubt the FBI considers Mr. Peanut a serial killer. And you thought Hannibal Lecter was evil.

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Of course, you’re especially concerned about zombie apocalypse, and I don’t blame you. Once you’ve looked into the vacant, evil eyes of your company’s HR professionals, you know you’re no more than one off-site away from being lunchmeat for the undead.

But there is one silent killer who you would never suspect – your office. Believe it or don’t, you office has a number of ways it can take you down. To be exact – 24 ways. Each one deadlier than the last.

How do I know?

I know because a modern Sherlock Holmes, Rachel Sugar, has cracked the case. “24 ways your office is literally killing you” is the title of her post on the Business Insider website, and if you are not a scream queen now, hold on to your popcorn; it’s about to happen.

“Sitting at your desk could shave years off your life,” is Sinister Office Plot No. 1. “Sitting too much can lead to an early death,” Shaver writes, hopefully from a standing position. “You face a higher risk of muscular skeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and more, even if you work out regularly.”

Sounds scary, right? Well, there is an antidote, but it is certainly not the one recommended by Cornel Professor Alan Hedge who suggests you “change positions every 8 minutes and take a 2-minute ‘moving break’ at least twice an hour.” The idea of you actually moving your body every 8 minutes is ludicrous. What are you – an Olympic athlete? No, the way to save yourself from the sitting menace is to work lying down. Remember the nap mat you had in kindergarten? Get an HR zombie to provide one. Bring your blankie to work, too, so you’ll really feel comfy cozy. You may not get a lot done, but you’ll be rested and, importantly, alive.

If you think you can get around the killer that is your desk chair by switching to one of those groovy new treadmill desks, think again. Crazed Killer-Office Plot No. 3 involves this very instrument of death. “Using a treadmill desk,” Rachel Sugar warns, “increases your chances of physically hurting yourself.”

Apparently, author Sugar thinks you’re a super-klutz, since she points out that these desks “might cause you to fall more often than merely sitting in a chair.” Considering how many times you’ve fallen out of your chair reaching for the donuts you have hidden in your file cabinet, it seems unlikely that you could fall more frequently, even if you were going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. (Which you really must try. It’s fun, and, apparently, a whole lot safer than sitting at your desk.)

What about meetings? You’ve frequently said that too many meetings would be the death of you. Turns out that you were right – especially, team-building and motivational meetings. As Sugar points out in Deadly Deathtrap No. 7, “forcing people to feel positive for something they’re unsure about can actually ‘highlight how unhappy they are’ and, ultimately, will make them even more depressed.”

Fortunately, there is a cure for meeting-caused depression. Stop going to meetings. In case your manager is one of those sensitive types, who think everyone benefits from their endless ramblings, you’ll want to get a note from your doctor. Request the note by email, BTW. If you’re doctor sees how run down you’ve become, facing certain death, every day, 9 to 5, they may send you directly to the morgue.

Though these four life-threatening situations do seem like the scariest of the 24, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of all the ways your office is out to get you. So, even though my endless ramblings may have put you at more risk by more exposure to the risk of Office Death-Threat No. 16, “Extreme boredom,” I’ll stop here.

I’ll be back next week with more sinister ways your office is plotting to ice you. Just be careful to do absolutely no work until I return. That way, you just may have a fighting chance to stay alive.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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