Keep working away

Saint Homobonus
8 September 2014

11 September 2014 | Saint Homobonus

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

Keep working away

Remember when going away on holiday meant enjoying a real break? Research carried out for Kwik Fit Mobile reveals that 46 per cent of full time or part time workers spend an average of five hours and 24 minutes of their holidays checking emails, making work calls and writing or reading documents. Work even impacts on where a quarter of them go on holiday – with many citing the need for strong wi-fi coverage and a good mobile signal. And 4 per cent of these overly dedicated workers will only stay in hotels with good business facilities.  

Fist bumping friends


Worries about limp hands, vice-like grips and sweaty palms are old hat. Research by Aberystwyth University in Wales suggests you might not want to shake hands at all. After performing handshakes, high-fives and fist bumps wearing sterile rubber gloves, one covered with 
E.coli, they found a handshake transferred 10 times as many bacteria as a fist bump. Dr Dave Whitworth told the BBC that during a flu pandemic “handshaking is something you want to think about”. Peter Hoffman, from Public Health England, said simply washing one’s hands after going to the toilet would reduce illness. “The ultimate would be if we went back to the Victorian age when you would bow or curtsy from a distance – no germs there!”

What in the word?


Aah jargon. Every field has it. Ex-civil servant Roger White even compiled an A to Z of public sector shorthand for The Guardian. As he says any “public service career path progression” requires “sector-specific linguisitic shorthand”. Key terms: carriageway defects = road faults; mentee = a word for those being mentored; upstream interventions = early actions. Closer to home, stakeholder engagement = a consultation. Two favourites, ‘womancession’, to explain that the recession is particularly affecting women and ‘quintile’, instead of ‘a fifth’. Surely such jargon does little for sector-wide reputational issues?

Caught out on a CV

An online survey of 2,188 US hiring managers and human resource professionals by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder revealed that 
58 per cent of employers have caught potential employees lying on CVs. While half would dismiss a dishonest candidate, 7 per cent said they would overlook it if they liked them. The most common falsehood involved embellishing skill sets and the financial sector (73 per cent) topped the industries that had picked up untruths. These included a 32-year-old claiming to have 25 years of experience.

Give a fish a hand

Worried by dropping fish stocks, US environmental officers are helping salmon journey upstream to spawn. Industrial transit company Whoosh has produced a high-powered vacuum system that shoots the fish up flexible pipes at up to 22 mph. Being tried out in Washington state’s Columbia river where dams bar their journey, the tubes move up to 40 fish every minute up to 200 feet. As salmon farmers used to ‘carry, run and toss’ the fish, it’s no surprise the tubes are believed to cause less stress. Talk about flying fish!

Automatic tweets


Twitter has revealed that 23m users are algorithms, tweeting without any human intervention. Guardian writer Alex Hern has singled out a few that he really rates. His picks include Olivia Taters @oliviataters, an imaginary teenager created by Rob Dubin. She’s able to chat (in a way) and tweets timeously, as she’s able to pick up on popular topics. So it’s true, a lot of users really don’t think before they tweet!

All about Cents and sensibility  


It was an offer that seemed to good to be true. Bidding to win a three-year contract to become New York’s official office supplies vendor in May 2013, Staples promised qualifying groups could buy ‘a bunch of things for a penny apiece’. It was unsurprisingly popular with one Brooklyn charity ordering 240,000 boxes of facial tissues. Staples had agreed to sell 219 items – including a $1,100 paper shredder – for a penny each, expecting to make a profit from other non-sale items. But two months into the contract it complained about “excessive orders” and stopped such deliveries. The state is “negotiating to resolve this,” a New York Office of General Services spokeswoman said. The best buy? Maximum-security prison Attica Correctional Facility bought half a million paper clips for $5. Asked if they could be used to open jail doors, a spokeswoman said “inmates are prohibited from having paper clips”. Somebody is making a very long paper clip chain…

Tweet of 
the month

Working on sustainable procurement plan for a conference this week. Kermit  was right, it’s not easy being green. @philgass

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