Cube Life

Recession-Proof Your Job: Start with Common Courtesy

Today’s hurried culture has changed the expectations of social behavior. In an effort to keep pace with the deadlines and demands of every day, it has become increasingly difficult to see beyond ourselves, a problem only compounded by current economic concerns. Consequently, courtesies once considered common are becoming a rarity.

Lack of common courtesy in our culture impacts workplace productivity, profits, and relationships. Demonstrating a sincere attitude of courtesy and consideration for others certainly won’t hurt your job security and could even help it. Make your mark in business by making courtesy an everyday habit, and you’ll stand out to employers and co-workers. Here are three easy ways to get started.

Acknowledge Others

Whether it’s simply opening the door for a co-worker, asking about someone’s day, or giving praise for a job well done, recognize the presence and accomplishments of those around you to strengthen relationships and promote a team-centered outlook. Courtesy is contagious, so changing your habits will encourage others to follow your example, creating a positive work environment everyone will appreciate.   

Be Prompt

Arriving early to meetings and responding to emails, phone messages, and requests as promptly as possible displays professionalism, efficiency, and respect for the schedules of others. You probably don’t appreciate when others delay you or your projects, so treat them with the respect you want and be consistently prompt.

Be Thankful

Co-workers feel appreciated and valued when you express genuine gratitude for their contributions. Taking time to simply say “thank you” can help build company community and morale, and shows your co-workers how you truly feel.

Making courtesy a habit will enable you to positively impact your workplace relationships and your career. Take time to demonstrate your professionalism and respect, and you will stand out to your employer the next time you’re in line for a raise, a promotion, or a positive recognition.

5 Ways to Say Happy Birthday at Work (Without Breaking Your Budget)

Birthdays at WorkIf you’ve ever felt that one day blends into another at work, then you know that any excuse to shake things up and break from the norm is a great way to lift spirits and help your team bond. While each workplace differs on the reasons why and how they celebrate, a popular trend is
celebrating employee birthdays. Though some people dislike the attention and others choose not to celebrate for religious reasons, most people in the workplace enjoy a small birthday party.

But in times like these, budgets are tight for businesses and employees alike. So, here are five ways to celebrate birthdays at work without going broke.

1. Sign a group birthday card. Depending on the size of your workplace or team, a card signed by your group can be a simple way to help everyone save a few bucks. Another idea is to create an electronic group greeting card that everyone can customize. makes it easy to make sure everyone has a chance to sign an electronic card and will schedule the delivery date for you.

2. Bake, don’t order cake. Having a monthly cake to celebrate employee birthdays is a time-honored tradition in many workplaces, but the costs can add up fast. Employers may be looking to cut budgets on items like these, but that doesn’t mean birthdays can’t be sweet anymore. One idea is to have team members bake cupcakes, cookies, or other sweets to bring to celebrate co-worker birthdays.

3. Have a potluck picnic. Instead of catering in or going out for a restaurant meal to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, a budget-friendly alternative is to have a potluck picnic or lunch. Having everyone bring a themed dish is a great way to build camaraderie within your team and celebrate while keeping budgets in check.

4. Throw a re-gift party. If your team has a tradition of buying gifts for each other but can’t afford to this year, try a unique spin on the popular “Dirty Santa” holiday gift exchange. Have a re-gift party in honor of your team member’s birthday and ask all team members to bring a white elephant gift to exchange (just make sure they don’t bring a gift they received from a co-worker!). Other variations of this idea include having a themed gift swap. Simply select a theme, like funny things under $1, your favorite candy, or a secret recipe. Then, use the gift exchange game rules to provide an inexpensive but fun party game that gets everyone involved and preserves the gift-giving spirit.

5. Host a tournament or game lunch. Another way to celebrate birthdays at work is to schedule a game hour or tournament. Playing cards, board games, or word games can be a fun way for your team to celebrate while not spending a lot of money.

To keep team morale high, especially in times like these, it’s important to make sure we don’t cut celebrating from the workplace when budgets get cut. So, try using some of these ideas to celebrate birthdays in your workplace, or suggest these ideas to your team the next time you’re looking for a much-needed morale boost on the job.

Are You Abusing Your Computer Privileges? 5 Ways Not to Use the Internet at Work

If you have access to a computer at work, it’s easy to get sidetracked and waste time on the clock. In fact, most employees admit to wasting part of their day on non-work-related activities, with 48% of those employees wasting time by using the Internet, according to a study completed by Are you one of them? Whether you are, or have just thought about it, here are five things to avoid doing on the Internet at work. After all, it’s the company’s dime and the company’s time, and it’s doubtful you’re getting paid to not work.

Socializing – If you have a MySpace or Facebook account, you might be tempted to spend some time updating yours, but don’t do it. Using your personal account probably won’t help you in your career unless you’re in a very niche field, so stay away from your social network while you’re on the job. Some companies even restrict access to social media sites like these specifically to keep employees from wasting time there.

Personal Business – You might use the Internet to pay your bills or make a doctor’s appointment, but it’s best to limit these activities to a non-work computer. Make sure you pay your bills from home, or use a public computer lab to take care of your personal business. This can also be a security issue. Some companies monitor keystrokes, so by typing in your password, you may accidentally give it away. Taking time on the clock to use the Internet at work for personal use shows your employer your lack of commitment to get the job done that you’re paid to do. 

Job Hunting – Looking for another job while you’re still on the job is a big no-no. If you’re looking for a new opportunity and the Internet is at your fingertips, it might be tempting to search job postings online, but don’t do it. Respect your supervisor, co-worker, and company by completing a job search on your own time using your own resources.

E-mailing – You might be able to check your e-mail from anywhere you are as long as you have an Internet connection. But it’s best not to check your personal e-mail at work using the company’s Internet. You also need to be careful about using your work e-mail for personal use. All of your work e-mails are owned by your company, and even if you delete them, they can be re-accessed. Use your own time to catch up with long lost friends and forward chain e-mails to your family instead of wasting time at work. Instead, spend your time learning a new skill or helping out a co-worker.

Shopping – Online shopping is easy and convenient, but when it has no relation to your job, leave your shopping habits at home. Don’t be tempted to use the company’s Internet to buy the latest DVD or a new pair of jeans. Instead, run to the store on your lunch break, or shop on the weekends when you’re not on company time. Also, your credit card could be vulnerable to hacking when you use it at work.

The Internet makes almost everything easier and more convenient these days. But, it can be a hindrance in your job, or even in your career, if you abuse the privileges you were given at work. So, avoid using the Internet inappropriately at work, and give your best to the job you have. Trying to fight the urge to surf the Internet? Check out these ways to use your extra time wisely.

Organizing and Maintaining Your Workspace

Organizing Your Workspace - 2 In the previous blog, you learned why it’s important to have an organized desk instead of a messy one. Cleaning up your act is well worth the effort, and can even give your career a boost.

Taking the time and effort to reorganize your workspace can help you find specific items quickly, rather than having to dig through piles to find something you need. Also, your productivity will increase because there will be less visual distractions, leaving you more time to focus on your work.

Here are a few quick tips to get your cleanup started.

Necessary Items.

  • Keep only your essential, frequently-used items on your desk. Your computer, telephone, inbox, stapler, note pad, and other items of that nature can be considered as essential. If you regularly use a printer or fax, keep those within reach.

Organization Method.

  • Determine how you want things to be organized. Do you want to file documents in a folder or binder? Do you want items color coded or labeled? Each person has their own style of filing, so make sure you find the style or system that works best for you – Stacks of paper on the left and more stacks of paper on the right doesn’t count as organization.

Throw Out Old Materials.

  • Don’t hoard old files that you haven’t used in years. Discard or shred these old materials to clear up space. Remember to double check files, such as financial records, before you toss them. Items like tax papers need to be kept for seven years.

Manage Your System.

  • Create a system of organization that is sustainable. It would be a wasted effort to de-clutter your space if it can’t preserve its cleanliness. Make sure your system is simple enough and adapted to your work style.

Keep It Clean.

  • Tidy up before you leave each day. Make sure things are in order to ensure you can get off to a fast start when you arrive the next morning. Doing so will also help you maintain your area. People are a little more reluctant to tackle daunting tasks, but tidying up every day will prevent messes from growing too large and overwhelming.

Methods for de-cluttering are as countless as the benefits of having a neat work area. Being organized and in control can display your efficiency and consistency as a worker – which can help your career in the long run.

What systems work best for you? How do you keep your system of organization from failing? Let us know your tricks in the comment section below.

How Does Your Messy Desk Portray You?

Organizing Your Workspace - 1 Though you can’t fully judge a person’s quality of work by glancing at their work area, most people can make an assumption.

There is a preconception that organization equals efficiency. When you see a clean workspace, you can’t help but think that the worker is productive and gets their work done.

On the other hand, disorganization can produce a greater negative impact than the positivity of tidiness. Even if your desk is inadvertently messy, a cluttered workspace can make others think that you’re lazy, stressed, disorganized, and maybe even irresponsible. If it’s perceived that you can’t function in an organized environment or keep your workspace organized, chances are you will also be viewed as incompetent to some degree – reducing your chances of career advancement.

Avoid giving off a negative impression and jeopardizing opportunities for a promotion by keeping a messy work station. Tune into our upcoming blog about how to clean up your workspace and keep it that way.