Imperfect timing

Saint Homobonus
7 July 2014

10 July 2014 | Saint Homobonus

Saint HomobonusThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales.

Imperfect timing

Not only do businesses rue the fact that employees’ holidays cost them time and money, there is also a question of how long they spend on ‘non-essential’ tasks. According to a survey of 550 UK workers by, the average worker visits the toilet 33,000 times, reads more than a million emails and drinks more than 34,000 hot drinks during their career. Many enjoy set routines, eating their lunch at a specific time, chatting with colleagues for approximately three-quarters of an hour and drinking three cups of coffee or tea every day. We are truly creatures of habit.
Beware ‘desk rage’

Printer not working? A colleague coughing? Apparently many British workplaces are now hotbeds of what has been termed ‘desk rage,’ caused when ongoing niggles get too much and become full blown rows. Polled by welfare charity The Brooke, more than half of the 2,000 respondents had a list of complaints about office life. Unsurprisingly, malfunctioning printers topped the poll, closely followed by being called just before the working day ends. As anyone who has urgently needed a document knows, kicking the printer gives only temporary satisfaction.

I-teenage robot

A super computer has just passed the ‘Turing Test,’ set in 1950 by master codebreaker Alan Turing, who was instrumental in breaking German code during the Second World War. He said that if 30 per cent of a panel of human judges could be duped into believing after a series of five-minute keyboard chats that a computer was human, it is ‘thinking’. Created by Vladimir Veselov and Eugene Demchenko, a computer programme called Eugene managed to convince 33 per cent of the judges at a test session in London it was a 13-year-old boy. “We hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots,” said Veselov. Hopefully ‘Eugene’ is more talkative than the average monosyllabic 13-year-old.

Getting all lippy

It was recently revealed that nearly half of British women believe that wearing red lipstick to work will impress their boss. Forty per cent regularly applied red lipstick to gain attention from a male superior. The survey of 1,000 women by online beauty retailer also found that 60 per cent of respondents believed that applying heavy eye makeup like mascara, eyeliner and dark eye shadow would help them ‘get ahead’ – well, it worked for Cleopatra.   

Online holograms

A California-based firm Ostendo Technologies Inc is working on mobile phones that can emit holograms. Think R2-D2 emitting a hologram of Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV. The prototype is apparently the size of a Tic Tac and the technology could be used on tablets, computers and televisions. The hologram-projector is set to launch in 2016 – and Microsoft and Facebook are also working to push the boundaries of virtual reality. Virtual holidays anyone?

Just a ‘minuite’

Cambridge locals assumed that when workmen arrived at an NCP car park at the railway station last month, they were there to correct the spelling mistake in the ‘20 minuites max parking sign’ painted some two years ago. However, all they did was to repaint the words, including the extra i in ‘minuites’, which was painted black. An NCP spokeswoman said they would return to repaint the word – correctly. “Everyone involved has committed to playing Scrabble in their lunchtime as spelling revision,” she said.

Holidays not snappy enough

Planning your next break? That could be costing your employer an average of £478 per staff member – thanks to time spent on planning, booking, talking about and researching the trip. And even more company time is taken reminiscing to colleagues about the break afterwards too. Holiday site carried out research to measure the impact that holidays have on the lives of British workers. The 1,885 repsondents were in full time employment, had been at their jobs for at least a year and had been on a holiday in the last 12 months. They spent an average of 32 hours planning, daydreaming about and booking their holiday trips. And those are the hours when they should have been working, not research carried out in their own time. Respondents were touchingly honest. When asked if their productivity before and after a holiday was affected, 89 per cent admitted they were ‘much less productive’ just before and after a break.

Tweet of 
the month

Reality check for you #marketers – 5 reasons why the procurement guy hates you: @MarketingEds

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