For many people out there, the movie, “Office Space” hit very close to home: their daily early morning commute involves getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic where their senses are bombarded with horns and yells from nearby irate drivers. The reward for making it out alive from that set-up? Your very own cubicle, specially fitted and designed to make you feel as drained and worn out as you could possibly be. Then there is the mountain of meaningless tasks which you must complete while 8 different bosses, who don’t communicate with each other, breathe down your neck.
Granted, “Office Space” went a little overboard with its comic depiction of the modern corporate work place, but it still preserved a few lessons which we all could benefit from.
In the movie, Bill Lumbergh is the boss and is often seen around Peter’s (the protagonist’s) cubicle, making an effort to control and make Peter’s day tougher than it has to be. But Bill is not the only problem Peter has; there are 8 other bosses he has to answer to, and because they don’t communicate, Peter ends up having to repeat things over and over again.
Lesson #1: Provide your employees with what they require to get the job done: training, resources, etc. And then step back and let them do the work. Studies have shown that micromanaging actually leads to lower standards of work, not higher. And it is not hard to see why this is the case; just imagine trying to a task with someone constantly over your shoulder.
Provide Properly Functional Equipment and Updated Software
Characteristic of some of the best comedy movies, in animate objects in “Office Space” almost become characters themselves. In this movie, the copy machine becomes somewhat of a character thanks to the fact that it is so hated by many of the main characters. It never works properly, and this is the source of so much conflict. Three of the main character, Peter, Michael, and Samir, finally take out their frustrations with the machine by destroying it in a rural field located out of town.
Lesson #2: Provide your employees with the tools they need to get the job done. And yes, equipment will break down. But expecting your employees to keep meeting the same quality of work and deadlines with faulty equipment is simply worth classifying as cruel and unusual punishment.
Create a High Quality Working Environment
One look at the office which the main characters in the movie “Office Space” have to deal with and it is not hard to see why they absolutely hate their jobs. They work in 6’x6’ cubicles with no windows and, to compound things for Peter, his cubicle is located right across from another employee who patches calls through—so he has to spend the whole day listening to her saying “Just a moment” over and over again.
Lesson #3 You may not be able to avoid the use of cubicles in some offices. But you can counter their stifling effects by giving your employees the freedom to mover about the office to break up their day. You can provide seating outside for your employees so that they have the possibility of going out and getting some fresh air from time to time. If outdoor space isn’t an option, create an indoor lounge where employees can go to take a break from their cubicles.
Most employees are already resigned to the fact that today’s technology-driven world demands that they sit at a desk and work on a computer all day. But this does not free employers from the responsibility of making sure their offices don’t become like that in the movie “Office Space”. With a little thought and planning, you can ensure that your employees never feel as frustrated as the characters in the movie. Adhering to the lessons outlined above are a great step in the right direction.Lessons Taught By the Movie Office Space