“Workarounds” at Work

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Peter Sperry 8 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #161456

    The other day I went to a vending machine at work and put in a dollar. The item I wanted was $1.50 so I tried to put in another dollar. Machine wouldn’t take it nor another bill. Finally I gave up and left.

    At some point I returned to see a bunch of younger employees gathered around. They were feeding dollar bills into the Coke machine, getting change, then buying their snacks from the vending machine.


    What “workarounds” have you seen at work?

  • #161476

    Peter Sperry

    We have the exact same machines in my building!

  • #161474

    A few more:

    1. Email workaround. Instead of reading each one, wait a few hours to let them pile up. Sort by subject. Select group. Hit F12 (this is assuming you use Outlook). Hit “Save As”. Put the text file into a folder.

    2. The wallet card. For some reason people seem to love them. If you are announcing a new initiative and don’t have a lot of money for print, just create one – use a business card template (like Avery).

    3. Also involves food. Find a cube nobody is using at work. Stuff a drawer with food. Tell a few others. Now you have a community vending machine.

    4. If you need training but can’t get it, take on tasks you know nothing about. Then training becomes a job requirement. Find low cost or free training. Then you’ve removed most of the hurdles – and you have a reason to spend some time at work learning something new (so that you can actually get things done better).

    5. The platform we’re on right now – GovLoop or any learning/community network. It’s a great way to stay informed, help others, and be a part of the change you want to see.

  • #161472

    Stephen Peteritas

    The single shooter coffee machine at work only gives me a half cup of coffee so I run it twice, not sure that’s innovative but it still stinks to have to run the cycle twice.

  • #161470

    William Lim

    I think one of the secretaries discovered this and I’ve recently caught on. The copier toner we use comes with little cardboard inserts to hold the round cartridge in place inside its rectangular packaging box. Two simple re-folds of the little inserts and they become instant paper clip and coin trays.

  • #161468

    Mindy Giberstone

    Cool reuse, but we use them so the empties can be returned for recycling.

  • #161466

    Mindy Giberstone

    Instead of engaging IT in complex query and report writing, we do simply gross queries and then manipulate the data in Excel with vlook-ups, pivot tables, etc. Saves a lot of time on 1-off data requests and you don’t spend days working out complicated joins or views or such.(Can you tell I’m not in IT?)

  • #161464

    William Lim

    Assuming that we recycle too, I don’t think anybody in my office bothers to save the cardboard packaging. Maybe just the plastic sheath and return label.

  • #161462

    Laura L Groce

    Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    1. I use a sectioned picnic utensil holder for my pens, pencils, highlighers, whiteboard markers, etc.

    2. I use a sectioned tea-bag box for my paperclips, binder clips, rubber bands, staples, push pins, etc.

    Both 1 and 2 are clear acrylic, so they match well together; also allows me to see the items in #2.

    3. I also have a couple of paperweights/paperclip “trays” that used to be decorative room fresheners. Once the room perfume is gone/dried out, wash it, turn the curlicue/decorative side down, and the other side has a lip that’s perfect for dropping paperclips into, and the weight of the glass is enough to make a good decorative paperweight (much nicer than the tape dispenser or stapler!).

    4. Finally, and I didn’t think this was particularly innovative but my coworker went on and on about it when she saw it, so I’ll go ahead and include it. I really, REALLY, don’t like hanging files, so instead of using them in my desk drawers, I have those metal desktop file separaters in my drawers to keep my files straightened. Works like a charm, the files don’t slide down, and no fooling with hanging file folders that get hung up on the frame.

  • #161460

    @Laura – about #4, the hanging file folders, the bane of my existence – that is great.

    There seem to be a lot of tips about paper clips. Do people really use paper clips? I never felt comfortable with them. I worry that the papers will fall out. Or sometimes the clips leave a mark. I do like sheet protectors and use them a ton.

    Just thought of another one – since people don’t read their email, but they still use email, put the whole message in the subject line (like a Tweet). This is how my family sends me reminders to do stuff but I find it helpful at work too, e.g.

    <<Subj: REMINDER: I am out of the office tomorrow, May XX>>

  • #161458

    William Lim

    I once had a boss in the private sector who hated paper clips out of a fear that the clips would accidentally hook together or that papers would get loose. So I was allowed to use only staples or binder clips. Personally I don’t like to staple something unless I’m pretty sure I won’t need to un-staple it 10 minutes later, since removing staples leaves holes or tears the corner of the page. (And, as I joked in my current office, the amount of staples removed and thrown away in a year is probably enough metal to build a car.)

    I’ve heard others suggest using the email subject line for the actual message too. I’m all in favor of descriptive subject lines instead of just saying a cryptic “Reminder.”

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