Watercooler: I want to be alone!(analysis of employee motivation) (Column)

Some years ago, just as 'spa experiences' were becoming fashionable in the UK, I witnessed a male executive in my organisation suggesting to a female colleague that she should invite all her female clients on a spa day. I found his stereotyping and blithe assumption that everyone would find the invitation irresistible rather appalling.

I slipped away from the danger zone quickly to reduce the risk of getting roped in to represent the home team. It might be the perfect day out for some people, of course, but the thought of sitting around barely dressed with colleagues or clients could not appeal less to me. I don't possess the greatest body confidence anyway, but I've also had an unfortunate experience: I once visited a thermal bath house on a trip abroad only to be greeted by a sign banning swimming costumes--followed by a parade of mixed bathers sporting towels around their necks, rather than their middles.

Don't get me wrong: I couldn't be happier receiving a massage or a facial treatment, just preferably in peace and quiet. When I emerge, skin-stroked, soul-soothed and mostly incapable of coherent speech, I prefer to remain in this uncommunicative, semi-meditative fug for as long as possible before being dragged back to conversational reality.

Of course, times have changed and the downturn has given organisations rightful pause for thought on the hospitality front. Client and staff entertainment budgets were sliced after the financial crisis of 2007-08 as companies re-examined their costs. When the going gets tough, employee motivation is particularly important and, as headcount and desk coverage thins out, it's hardly appropriate for managers to be seen to be growing fat on corporate hospitality.

Today, as we dare to suggest a semblance of economic recovery, savvy managers are intensely attuned to keeping a lid on costs. Smartphone technology and the increasing ease of connectivity have stoked hot-desking fever and few employees can claim a piece of office real estate for their own. First-day introductions of "this is your desk and here are your new neighbours, Jane and Miguel" are a thing of the past.

I don't believe that this is such a terrible trend. The very idea of sitting at the same workstation, day in, day out, for years to come was an energy-sucking prospect for me ("this is Jane, your mentor; this is your desk, your dementor"). Of course, my fears were utterly unfounded, because only a few months will ever pass before there's...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT