Workplace Seminars I'd Like to See

Lately I’ve been receiving emails from outside companies selling seats to seminars with the latest workplace threats as topics. Most refer to threats of low probability: Several have been related to how to combat ransomware, which I have no interest in since the occurrences of such computer problems are low, particularly in an office where attachments are automatically deleted, and emails are left undelivered if they are larger than ten words of text. A couple have addressed the topic of what to do in a situation of active workplace shooters, an extremely low threat, even lower in an office like mine where even the happiest and most well-adjusted workers are trying to stay away from work as much as possible.

Instead, I’d like to see seminars for coping with things that are more likely to happen at the workplace.

For example, rather than learning how not to open emails with viruses, trojans, or ransomware in them, I’d like to learn how not to open emails from colleagues. Once I receive an email that begins, “Can you do me a favor?” I cannot unread or unknow it. Thus I cannot deny to the sender, who always appears to be able to read my microexpressions, I did not see the email. I need a class that shows me how to set up my spam filter to weed out legitimate emails that try to dump work in my lap.

I have no need to know how to deal with an active shooter. The probability of encountering one is about a thousand times lower than my probability of cracking my head on the sink basin after slipping in the small puddle of water that constantly persists in the washroom. Besides, once an active shooter is in the building, I already know what to do: run. What I need is a course on how to deal with an active annoyer, the kind that stop at my cube to make small talk every fifteen minutes. Or the kind that swing by immediately after sending me an email that starts “Can you do me a favor?”

Every year I am required to take a course in workplace policy regardless if any workplace policy changed or not, such as sexual harassment, despite there being no change in the definition of sexual harassment in the last twenty years. I understand the reason, it is a corporate legal requirement that removes all blame from the company in the event I become an active shooter or groper; they can easily show victims in court, “See, we told him not do that kind of thing.” What I’d like to see is a seminar that explains why corporate types impose unnecessary policies and restrictions on themselves, such as dressing in all black, working during lunch breaks, and answering work-related calls on their cellphones during evenings, weekends, and vacations.

The company likes to give courses on things that the employee is not supposed to do. In addition to teaching not to sexually harass, they also teach workers not to touch equipment – forklifts, machinery, etc. – they are not supposed to handle, not to drink chemicals in labs or splash those chemicals in their eyes, and not to enter areas off-limits to them. As long as we’re learning what not to do, I’d benefit from a class telling me on what days I should not come to work, such as during audits, inventories, or active facilities days when construction workers are blasting jack-hammers and stinking up the office with fumes from diesel and fresh roof tar. I’d like to know when to avoid being at the office during workplace shakeups and layoffs. Most of all, I’d like to learn how to avoid pointless meetings.

Finally, I’d like at least one seminar that identifies what I could be doing instead of working in a corporate office.