2010's Most Annoying Workplace Trends

The way we work is changing. There are good workplace trends, like greater job flexibility, and there are bad workplace trends, like reduced benefits. And then there are just plain annoying workplace trends--too many, by all counts. Here are eight annoying trends we could do without:

The need to be (or at least appear) busy, busy, busy
Ed Muzio, the author of "Make Work Great," has a hardworking friend who was recently stopped in the company cafeteria and told by a stranger who was trying to be helpful that he didn't look "stressed enough." Muzio says this exemplifies a troubling trend he calls "the badge of busy." "It has become fashionable in far too many workplaces to demonstrate value by showing people how overwhelmed you are." Wouldn't it be better if you could demonstrate your real value by simply doing a good (and efficient) job in a career you love?

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Open cubicles
Where is the privacy? asks Angela Petitt, an IT professional.

Cluelessness about other coworkers
With the rise in open cubicles comes the inconsiderate coworker. "One lady sits at her desk and talks as loud as possible on personal calls, as if we can all shut our hearing off," complains one cubicle dweller who prefers to remain anonymous. "It goes on for 20 minutes, several times a day. Annoying. Disturbing."

Overused jargon and inappropriate cliches
Value-add. Brain-dump. Incentivize. The list goes on (and on and on). Among the myriad troubling terms is "out of pocket." It's supposed to be about expenses (meaning an expense isn't covered, so you need to pay for it out of your own pocket). Now it's come to mean "out of contact for a while." Example: "I'll be out of pocket until 4:30!" your coworker says as he heads out the door. Duncan Phillips, of The Hodges Partnership, has this opinion on the phrase: "It needs to be officially retired from our lexicon."

The dreaded company potluck
Many companies are trying to save money these days by having employees bring in food for potlucks instead of treating everyone to pizza or other occasional goodies. "You get to work and hope there's enough room in the fridge to cram it in," says one employee who has attended too many of these. "When show time comes, you stand in line and attempt to heat it up in a 10-by-10-inch microwave. After that, you sit in a crammed conference room making awkward conversation."

The equally dreaded company restaurant lunch
Some businesses can still splurge on occasional lunches for a select group of employees. But it doesn't make them easy to swallow, according to Silicon Valley tech writer Ward Lee. "You go to the upscale chain restaurant at the dead end of a mall. ... Then you sit around feeling like you're at a wake, talking about nothing much, and then silence. No one dares say anything at all controversial, or even personal, or interesting. You feel farther apart than when you started. So much for team building!"Tending to personal hygiene publicly
Freelance writer Stephanie Olsen is probably not the only person who has been hit by flying fingernails while a colleague clips away. Nor is she the only one who watches in shock as another colleague applies deodorant while chatting with coworkers. And she probably isn't alone in her feelings about it either: "Grossed out forever." Andrea Hoffmann, chief marketing officer of 8fold Integrated Creative Works, feels the same way about the increasing number of people who take off their "stinky shoes and keep them under their desk."

Bringing accident-prone dogs to the office
In the last month, two of three dogs who regularly "go to work" at one anonymous worker's office have had accidents on the carpet. "While I like four-legged furry friends as much as the next person, I must say feeling like you work in a dog's toilet is just wrong," she says.

 

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