The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/20/2017
The Weird Workplace
Credit: Pavel Fiadkevich (Shutterstock)


NAPLES, ITALY — What employee wouldn’t like to play hooky, skipping out on work to enjoy some much-needed rest or hang out with friends? Well, employees at an Italian hospital in Naples may have taken the concept a bit too far — one supervisor at the Loreto Mare hospital was found working as a chef at a hotel, while an on-duty doctor was seen playing tennis and going shopping. Two health workers were caught clocking in 20 colleagues to make it look like they were on the job each day. In total, 94 workers have been placed under investigation of suspicion of repeatedly skipping work, according to Reuters, with 55 placed under house arrest. Public sector workers caught skipping work can be immediately suspended in Italy as part of the government’s recent efforts to cut down on the behaviour.


THE PAS, MAN. — Looking to transport prisoners securely — and with the greatest of ease —the RCMP in northern Manitoba is trying out a new mode of transport. Large egg-shaped “pods,” which look like child carriers pulled behind bikes, are now being pulled by police on ATVs. The pods feature a heated seat and a flashing red light on top, according to the CBC, along with four tires that can be switched out for skis. “We’re able to help people that are, you know, off the beaten trail, so to speak,” said The Pas RCMP Sgt. Brent Mattice. The pods are to be used at remote crime scenes and during rescue missions, and are similar to “snowbulances” used by paramedics in the area.


SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Employee theft is always a concern, but digital technologies firm ABB was hit particularly hard recently when one of its South Korean employees went missing — along with $100 million, according to CNN. The 132,000-employee company — with 800 in South Korea — said it “uncovered a sophisticated criminal scheme,” but only noticed the huge sum was gone after the employee disappeared. The worker is suspected of forging documents and working with outsiders to make the theft. He is believed to have fled to Hong Kong and police are working with Interpol to bring him back to South Korea. The Swedish-Swiss corporation expects to take a pre-tax hit of $100 million on its 2016 results because of the theft. ABB reported net profit of nearly $2 billion last year on revenue of about $34 billion.


VILLOGNON, FRANCE — Talk about an embarrassing mistake. A sharpshooter in France set off his gun by accident during a recent speech by the country’s president — resulting in two people being shot, according to the Daily Mail. François Hollande was speaking in Villognon when the weapon went off. The soldier managed to injure two civilians — a waiter and a railway worker — when the safety catch on his gun failed. Despite the gunfire, the president only paused, looked over to the area involved, and then continued his speech, saying, “‘I hope everything is all right.”


SEATTLE, WASH. — We all do it. Rushing to get an email or document done, we send it out, not realizing there’s a typo. But one such misstep by an Amazon employee caused considerable damage recently — a massive cloud-computing outage, to be exact, that caused problems for thousands of websites and apps, according to the Telegraph. During a routine debugging of its billing system, an incorrectly typed command or “fat-finger typo” occurred, leading to a five-hour outage of some Amazon web services. “An authorized S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command which was intended to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process. Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended,” said Amazon. As a result, the company said it was making changes to prevent a similar incident. “We want to apologize for the impact this event caused for our customers… We will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to improve our availability even further.”

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