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Office or Orifice – is it SHERQ Compliant?

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“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations” Earl Nightingale×490.jpg



The other day, on my way back from a client, I walked into an airport bookshop and found Nikil Savel’s Cubed – the secret history of the workplace rather interesting.  His referencing to “Clerking Class, White-Blouse Revolution and Space Invaders” made me question the mental and social health of what he calls “Cubicle farm dwellers constantly monitored by security cameras”.  Coming from a production / manufacturing background I can see how, in his words “…transposing the factory model to the office turned white-collar work into numbing, repetitive labour” occurred, and I can also see the misalignment!

I do see spacious offices, well ventilated and with sufficient lighting but they are generally occupied by the CEO or the Financial Director because ‘they have earned’ it.  Another generalization is that most companies group activities together to save space because as we all know, space, like time, is money.  They will put all the admin clerks in one corner, at one long desk, partitioned off to create a false sense of privacy, in reality only covering the computer monitors.

Something that always amazes me, is given the tiny ‘wall space’ available to each person, what we find stuck to the partitioning.  The standard item is the emergency procedure and telephone numbers but on others, you can see the spouse, the children, the last fun family activity, the person’s religious convictions and in some cases, depending on available space, even the family pet.  It is that person’s office dream collage.

Can you see where that person would rather be?  Absolutely, on the beach with her husband, cycling in the woods with his wife, playing catch in the park with the kids and the family dog…  It poses the question: Do we earn less than what we pay?

A personal question:  Is looking at happy pictures of your spouse and children every time you look up from your computer monitor, the only way you can get through the day?  Please let us know, go to

I have a friend with serious skeletal issues and if she has to sit behind a computer for any length of time, she is in agony.  I had a work colleague who would suffer from severe migraine after every month-end because of the intense focusing on rows and rows of figures, not wanting to let a wrong figure slip by, because the perceived consequences would be dire.

Then I know an IT guy that should be issued with a compass in order to get through the maze of computer innards, monitors, printers, cables and an assortment of gadgets, to get to his desk.  Once there, his posture is appalling because he has three monitors, two keyboards and a couple of other gadgets he is working on ‘simultaneously’.  (Neuroscientist Etienne Koechlin from INSERM provided evidence that we switch from one activity to another but cautioned that we “might be in great trouble when we try to juggle more than two tasks, simply because we have only two frontal lobes.” - We are planning an article on this topic so sign up at

I’m asking another personal question today:  I know when we are multi-tasking we think we are more productive but have you ever reviewed the quality of our output?  If yes, is it always to your satisfaction or do you have to go back and fix something?   Please participate and air your view at  There is a saying in the field of Quality Management that it is so peculiar “there is never enough time to do it right the first time but we always seem to be able to make time to fix it.”

In summary, let us go back to the opening quote of Earl Nightingale where he said “our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations” – I’m NOT saying leave your job and live on the streets, I’m saying change our attitude and expectations!

Free advice

Do you have a Health and Safety, or SHERQ Representative in your company?  If yes, report the poor lighting, the lack of ventilation, the poor ergonomics, the broken chair….and follow-up.

If the answer is no, you do not have a Health and Safety Representative, report the poor office space to your immediate supervisor, do NOT suffer in silence!

If your company needs assistance contact us at


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