Time Part IV: The 'Green Office Is the Place to Be'

     Time has a case of bad boss syndrome. Just like the dreaded Bill Lumbergh in “Office Space,” Time wants to tell workers, and bosses too, how to run their businesses, their computers and maybe even where to move their desks or take their staplers.

     It’s all part of Time’s April 9 edition with its “51 Things You Can Do to Make a Difference” (See Business & Media Institute’s weeklong coverage: Part I, Part II and Part III) about global warming. Several of the ideas specifically address office life, from telling workers to drop their ties and swelter in the heat to mandating that computers and lights be turned off at the end of each day (and checked by a hall monitor).

     Of course, nowhere in the article does it claim that Time embraces any of these fun mandates. All this week, the Business & Media Institute has been showing the humor and hypocrisy hidden in the list. Today, Time’s take on “The Office.”

     Each of the 51 things is rated by its “impact,” “time horizon” and “feel good factor.” Here are a few highlights (Time’s ratings on a scale of 1 to 10/low to high):

·         # 29 “Remove the tie” – Time wants us to emulate the Japanese strategy of keeping office temperatures at 82.4 degrees. It’s a way of saving energy – just not workers. What Time didn’t say was that Japan also went to the extreme in winter months.

According to a February 16 Washington Post article, Japanese leaders left their workers out in the cold to save energy – something that might not even meet OSHA requirements in the United States. “To save on energy, local officials shut off the heating system in the town hall, leaving themselves and 100 workers no respite from near-freezing temperatures,” the Post explained. Impact: 6. (The impact on workers goes up as summer temperatures rise.) Feel good factor: 9. (Let’s ask the freezing Japanese workers about that one.)

·         # 32 “Kill the lights at quitting time” – The writers recommended a solution that “might sound a little like third grade” – “assigning an office switch-off monitor.” That’s right, someone to “walk the halls to make sure that computers, monitors, desk lights, printers and fax machines are turned off daily.” Time didn’t explain the extent of such a monitor’s enforcement powers, or any punishment for violators. But, in keeping with the third-grade solution, notes home to parents? Impact: 4. (Until the office gangs up on the “monitor.”) Feel good factor: 2 (Even lower for offenders whose parents believe in corporal punishment.)

·         # 30 “Shut off your computer” – Time wants all computers shut off in their off hours, but naturally ignores the system maintenance, software updates and other reasons computers are left on. Impact: 2. (Higher for supremely annoyed IT personnel). Feel good factor: 4. (Clearly, all Time staffers know their passwords and don’t mind booting up and logging in every day.)

     It’s hard to do justice to all 51, so all this week the Business & Media Institute is addressing the most entertaining or ridiculous of the suggestions. Here’s Part I, Part II and Part III.