HR Strange But True!
August 06, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull. But sometimes it can get downright strange...

When the cat's away...

The Boston Globe recently published an article on the liberties some employees take when the boss is gone. Though goofing off is hardly new, it has taken on new dimensions in today's workplace, according to the newspaper.

"In this era of overwork, 24/7 connectivity, and downsized staffs, workers often feel less guilty about taking a breather once the boss heads out on vacation or business," the Globe reported.

The newspaper illustrated its point with an incident that happened to Manhattan art gallery manager Liz Ostrer. She arrived at the office one Friday morning and noticed the smell of margaritas. The owner of the gallery was away, and it turned out that two assistants had decided to take advantage of that by ushering in the weekend with mixed drinks for the staff.

''I was pretty taken back and simply said in disbelief, 'You are drinking margaritas?' and he said, 'Yes, would you like one'?'' Ostrer recalled for the Globe. After e-mailing the owner about the incident, she had the cocktails tossed. The owner later chastised the staff for their ''completely irresponsible and unprofessional behavior'' and asked for assurances that it wouldn't happen again.

Experts told the Globe that incidents like this happen for several reasons. Sometimes, employees don't know the limits of shifting social norms--what the newspaper called "a clash of Industrial Age practices with Digital Age expectations." In other cases, employees believe they're entitled to a little quid pro quo for putting in unpaid overtime, monitoring office e-mail from home, and the like.

Source: Boston Globe

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