Monday, July 7, 2008

Sip Check

One of the key tenets of slack-hacking is no matter what you're actually doing, look busy.

In order to do that, let's examine some features of a busy person's external appearance: they appear to be collecting and distributing information. Some of the trappings of this activity include manila folders, walking quickly, and attending meetings, and trying not to seem lost in unfamiliar parts of the campus.

So it is easy to hack out an exercise where a slacker might pass for a busy, nay an extremely busy person. And all the while be checking out the -- um -- scenery in other parts of the corporate campus. And by scenery I mean water fountains (you thought I meant the chicks in accounting didn't you, pervy?).

See, in the United States the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) creates guidelines and laws that govern the working environment that employers create for their workforce. In this case we are particularly interested in the requirement that employers provide potable water for all employees.

What is needed here is an organized task of mapping and checking each water fountain (or, if you are from Massachusetts, bubbler) for flow, taste, and temperature. From this we will be able to assess where on campus we should go on particularly hot days or if we are interested in filling up our canteen with a relative quickness (ha!).

I have created a form for this purpose which I will not share with you here, because any hour you spend tinkering to create your own form in Microsoft Excel (or better, will contribute to the image of busy-ness that is the ultimate goal of slack-hacking to begin with. Besides, you may have other characteristics to consider and compare in your evaluation, like cleanliness.

Once you have prepared your form you need only an important-looking folder before you are ready to go begin your survey. The man pictured at left is obviously from New England and takes this responsibility very seriously.

While you are performing the survey, bear the following things in mind:

1. When you are in an unfamiliar part of the building, it is okay to appear lost. In fact, this is an important part of the reverse-reverse-reverse psychology we are employing here. They think you're busy and looking for a meeting room. They think you're too nervous to ask for directions, so you stop at the drinking fountain for a sip.

2. The folder convinces them that you are on an important mission that is none of their business. If it were their business they would have been informed by their management. Because you are not their management, you don't have time to discuss it with them. Walk quickly, smile like you don't mean it.

3. Sometimes meeting room numbers are hard to read from a distance. Nice skirt.

4. Do not sample fountains in an obvious, shortest-path order. A random or large end-to-end pattern may work best. You might also carry a cellphone to keep you engaged between sites.

Depending on the size of your campus, this exercise might take less than a day or it may be parceled out to become a project that spans weeks. That is up to you. I'll also note how fortunate it is that these water fountains are usually located close to restrooms, because drinking all that water will eventually take its toll.

1 comment:

.jeff. said...

I have to argue that this is a much more important task than simply an exercise in slacking. Finding tasty water is one of my missions in life... much more important than finding a significant other or, even, good/cheap beer.

I used to hunt for good water on my high school and college campuses. (And I was extremely successful. I can take you to the best water fountains at all of my past educational institutions dating back to elementary school.)

But I haven't tried it in my corporate life..... yet. Mostly due to proliferation of bottled water and the fact that we have those water "filtration" devices all over my campus. Our fountains, therefore, remain dry and unused. (Oh, and they taste like crap)