The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/08/2017
Helmet
Government workers at an office in Bihar, India, have considerably more to worry about than ergonomics or cubicle clutter, according to the Hindustan Times. Credit: AleksandrN (Shutterstock)

CAUTION: FALLING PLASTER

BIHAR, INDIA — Government workers at an office in Bihar, India, have considerably more to worry about than ergonomics or cubicle clutter, according to the Hindustan Times. A video of four workers shows them wearing motorcycle helmets to avoid being injured by falling plaster. “Many employees have reportedly sustained injuries due to falling of plaster from the ceiling. The situation has (been) aggravated due to rains. The entire building also leaks, compromising the safety of office equipment, records, especially computers,” said worker Ranjit Singh. The building construction department had declared the building unfit for use a couple of years ago and, after several delays, a sub-divisional officer said the government is in the process of shifting the office.


HORSING AROUND

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, U.K. — A police officer in the U.K. got into trouble recently when he called in sick three times over a nine-month period, but actually went to the horse races, according to the Telegraph. Police constable Jonathan Adams may just have pulled it off if a TV station hadn’t filmed him celebrating after a horse he owned won a race. The officer now faces allegations of gross misconduct under “honesty and integrity,” and could be dismissed from the police force. But his lawyer said Adams had a stress-related condition aggravated by his workplace. “He tried to alleviate that by his affinity and closeness to horses,” said Richard Shepherd, adding there are many different activities a police officer can undertake to relax, such as sailing or going to the gym. “They might sit in front of the telly watching (the TV show) Judge Rinder,” he said. “There is a value judgment because he went horse racing.”

THAT NAGGING FEELING

LONDON, U.K. — Yet another executive found himself in hot water recently. Sir Andrew Morris, head of the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain, was speaking before a health think tank audience about life expectancy. “Usually, the blokes die off earlier because they’re nagged to death by the other half,” said the 61-year-old, according to the Independent. Life expectancy is 79.1 years for men in the U.K. and 82.8 years for women. The comment did not go over well. “Sir Andrew Morris just made an extraordinary, sexist comment. Dinosaurs still roam in East Berkshire,” tweeted Jon Rouse of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. Morris, who is CEO of the Frimley Health NHS Foundation, later apologized “unreservedly for any offence caused.”


MISGUIDED INTENTIONS

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — Also striking out on the feminist front was actor Ashton Kutcher. After announcing he would be hosting a “live, open dialogue about gender equality in the workplace and in tech,” the star — who is also a venture capitalist — included a list of questions on LinkedIn hoping to start a discussion, according to US Magazine. The first? “What are the rules for dating in the workplace? Flirting?” Also on the list: “Where does the line between work life and social life stop and start?” and “Should investors invest in ideas that they believe to have less merit so as to create equality across a portfolio?” Many critics called the questions offensive and embarrassing. “Yikes, these are definitely not the right questions,” said Joelle Emerson, CEO of Paradigm. “Most rely on flawed assumptions and perpetuate problematic myths.” Kutcher later thanked people for their feedback. “I’ve already offended some folks by asking the wrong questions. I’m certain, given the sensitivity of the topic, I will say other things wrong,” he said. “Hope we can find space to be wrong in the pursuit in getting it right.”


BRINGING BACK THE ’70s

CALGARY — TV hosts on Global News in Calgary had a good laugh recently when the meteorologist had trouble talking about the ParticipAction activity of the day listed on the screen: Swinging. “I can’t do this,” said Jordan Witzel. “What?... It was acceptable back when Hal and Joanne were kind of the face of ParticipAction: Go to the Dollar Store, get a fishbowl… You gotta put your keys in a bowl.” The show’s two anchors, Amber Schinkel and Scott Fee, had a hard time keeping a straight face. “Oh, swinging at a playground,” joked Witzel in mock enlightenment. “Either way, you get your activity in for the day, I guess.” He then went on with the weather forecast.

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