A guide to surviving the modern workplace
I never worked in an office with humans before last June, so here are a few tips I’ve picked up
Make an impression
Your first day in a new workplace is much like being a new character in HBO prison drama Oz. At the earliest possible opportunity you need to do something crazy to ensure that nobody f***s with you. For example, you could stab someone in the queue for the canteen with a “shiv”. Alternatively, you could use an unorthodox font.
Sex up your CV
It is totally legal to lie in a CV. However, it is best to pick lies that aren’t too easy to check up on. Tip: you can claim to have done anything “while travelling”. According to my CV, I spent 1998 to 2003 as “king of France”.
As a home-working freelancer, I used to consider clothes to be a non-essential luxury. However, in the modern workplace wearing clothes is apparently a necessity. Even at your cubicle!
Wear the correct clothes
Nothing too outré. I recommend a well-fitted suit and a crisp white shirt. You can show your individuality and render yourself memorable through prudent use of accessories. Suggestions: a silk scarf, a colourful tie, an eye-patch, a gun in a shoulder-holster, clown shoes.
Find a niche
The modern office is also like a high school in an American TV show. There are jocks (sales department), nerds (IT folk), cheerleaders (PR people) and teachers (management) not to mention burnt-out stoners who hang out behind the sheds (columnists). It is important to find your own place in this ecosystem.
Cultivate an arch-enemy
Your working life won’t be complete without an arch-enemy. Much of your day should be concerned, not with making your own work a success but with orchestrating the failure and humiliation of your arch-enemy. Stop at nothing – practical jokes, sabotage, a destructive whispering campaign.
Pack some Lemsip
This product is essential in the heady contemporary workplace. I learned a lot about work from my favourite Lemsip Max Strength ad which features “Ian”, an ailing, insecure middle-aged man who is perpetually at risk of being supplanted by a smug young whippersnapper called “Pal”.
“Ian, I didn’t expect you back for ages,” says Pal.
“I was , but more to the point, what are you doing in my office,” asks Ian, firmly.
“Well, pal, with you out sick, the merger was going to go down the pan,” says Pal (I hate you Pal!). “Actually Pal, I spoke to them last night, they’re signing today,” says Ian triumphantly.
“But – you’re sick!” says Pal (he can’t believe what he’s hearing – in your face Pal!).
“Lemsip Max Strength, this sorts the men from the boys,” says Ian, in the process endorsing a depressing Hobbesian workplace where the old and sick are left to die and women don’t exist.
Know the jargon
It is important to familiarise yourself with the meaningless jargon that goes with your particular profession. For example, if you’ve got an interesting business proposal, you’ll want to be able to storm into the boss’s office and say: “Lawks! Luv a duck, you wouldn’t Adam and Eve the look on your old boat-race! Jellied eel, guvnor?”