Monkey business is future of work

It seems that we’ve gone as far as we can go. Office workers have reached the peak of evolution and all that is left is regression. Or is that devolution? Ask the Scottish Executive, it’ll know. Mind you, it don’t come cheap with them.

Anyway, the reason for this brief foray into political satire is that a study is being conducted to test whether behaving like chimpanzees at work will improve our communication abilities.

The Zoological Society of London has asked volunteers to mimic chimp body language and imitate 32 distinctive calls to get results from fellow staff.

For the managers among you, waving your arms and making yourself appear large will help to assert your authority. The drones might benefit from offering soft ‘huh huh’ greetings, an open hand and averting your eyes. You might just be rewarded with a bit of group grooming. Although slinging excrement across the department is to be discouraged, apparently.

Guru doesn’t know about the rest of you, but he’s already taking part, having been driven up the wall by colleagues on numerous occasions. For those of you interested, the website is Now, go and annoy your boss.

One last caveat if you’re going to take part: when it comes to disciplining errant staff, this experiment is no excuse for spanking the monkey. You have been warned.

Jackpot winner has her lotto of HR world

The new best friend of these hallowed pages is Tracey Orton, formerly of Shearman & Sterling partners’ HR department.

Orton quit the international law firm after a £2 investment scooped her a £3m jackpot on the national lottery.

Surprisingly, she followed the win by announcing her retirement, to follow a far less glamorous existence, which will probably involve speed boats, private planes and dubious reality TV shows. Yawn. Guru would rather have payroll duties any day.

If you’re interested, her numbers were 17, 19, 20, 35, 43 and 45. Finally, HR’s number is up – about time too.

Hospital stay means paying your own way

It’s been a while since the last of many occasions when Guru has been forced to wash dishes in restaurants after not being able to find the cash to pay for his nosh. He finds it unbelievable how often the question ‘Do you know who I am?’ just doesn’t seem to hold water.

However, this age-old punishment for non-payment seems to have found new life. The Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine, US, has created the Contract for Care, whereby patients unable to afford their operations due to lack of health insurance pay off their debt by doing odd jobs around the hospital.

The services they can render in return for medical attention include tending gardens and transporting patients.

This could make for a very efficient hospital, as 15 per cent of the US population have no health insurance – that’s about 43 million people, according to estimates.

So it seems Guru will have little more success trying his food scam across the pond – there is no such thing a free lunch in the Land of the Free.

ear to the ground …
Training consultancy manager needs more help than most

Which training consultancy would do well to look into a bit of in-house education?

A senior manager at a training service provider called his helpdesk in a rage because no one had responded to his repeated requests for help.

To make matters worse, when the unhelpful helpdesk checked, there were no details of his problem on the mainframe system. Unsure how to respond, they asked the manager to outline the problem.

“Well, I’ve been pressing F5 for help for more than four hours and no-one has been to see me.”

Logic had prevailed; F5 was labelled ‘Help’ on his keyboard.

Our exasperated insider said: “I guess he thought the helpdesk was like the Bat Cave, and that when he pressed F5, an alarm bell sounded and we slid down the Bat Pole and raced to help.”

Do you have any true stories about your (or anyone’s) workplace that you’d like to see in ‘Ear to the Ground’? They will be kept strictly anonymous and you will be able to bathe in a sense of righteous satisfaction. Please send them to

Comments are closed.