Maybe it is something that only happens to people who own Apple Macs and read too many Apple Mac blogs. But earlier this week, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a need to change my desktop email client.
So, I installed the trial edition of a new email client called Postbox, punched in all my usernames and passwords, and then excitedly waited for thousands of emails—“Hey! Did you get this email!”—to download into hundreds of folders—‘Urgent, Not that urgent, Will soon become urgent, Pictures of food’.
s this deluge of digital detritus washed over me, I suddenly realized something revolting: a full 60% of my email inbox has to be that ridiculous email signature that companies bolt on at the end of employee emails.
For instance, the company that publishes this newspaper embellishes our emails with a single paragraph of 63 words of the most tiresome, unfriendly text.
I have another email here from an inside source at JP Morgan with an ‘IMPORTANT NOTICE’ signature that comes in at 41 words.
But all this pales in comparison with the magnum opus that a prominent London law firm compulsorily appends to all outgoing emails. I will not name that firm here for obvious litigious reasons. This firm adds 300 words worth of legal disclaimers, threats, blackmail and intimidation at the end of each and every email sent from a company address.
Think about it. Three hundred words. Including delightful verbiage such as: “If you are not the intended recipient, you must not read, use or disseminate that information. If you have received this email in error, please notify us so that we can destroy you and your immediate family via mysterious LPG cylinder explosion tailor-made for a 15-year CBI investigation that ends inconclusively because Noida police decide to clean crime scene with concentrated sulphuric acid minutes after the FIR is filed. Muahaha.”
The absurdity does not end there. Some companies even take the opportunity to give you moral science lessons: “Save the planet by only printing this email if you absolutely have to!” Thank you for telling me that, you corporation that launders money for the Syrian government!
Hey companies! Come here. *Slaps companies across the face.* What the heck is wrong with you?
As I sat for two or three hours cleaning out my inbox, I began to wonder about all the other thoroughly annoying things companies do. And, inevitably, I started making a mental list of absurdities. The list is considerable. Especially when you think of all the finagling companies do in the name of technology policy, appraisal systems and human resources management.
After hours of ruminations and introspections, I have whittled that list down to this: my top 10 most annoying things companies do and should stop doing immediately. But then who are we kidding?
1. Email signatures. See above. Puke.
2. Doing stupid things to prevent information theft. This includes stupid size limits on email attachments, stupid blocks on personal email accounts and stupid removal of USB drives on computers. Look, if someone wants to steal your secret information, they will. Largely because all your confidential documents are lying next to the printer in the form of abandoned printouts. Or thieves will just sit all day and take photos of secrets with their phone. In fact, if a person can’t figure out how to steal information from your office, he is probably too dumb to be hired in the first place.
3. Buying bloated, rubbish, stupid, proprietary software to do the same bloody thing a thousand online services do. Like an internal ‘Instant Messaging Suite’ that costs Rs 14 lakh and is extremely secure largely because only Amit in IT uses it.
4. Buying any software whatsoever with the word ‘Suite’ in its title.
5. Spending time and money on stupid Intranet sites. There are cheaper ways to get your CEO to ‘interact with the team’. In fact, if he needs an Intranet post to say it, it is probably not worth saying at all. Go run the company, dude.
6. Investing in a stupid, slow Internet connection. So that employees spend 15-20% of the day waiting. For something. Which time they will eventually use to make a fresh resume.
7. Stupid, irrelevant self-appraisal forms downloaded from the Internet or stolen from the CEO’s previous company. Particularly meaningless because of Point 8.
8. Stupid internal policy that fits all performance ratings on a bell curve. It doesn’t matter how well you do if other people do well, too. Unfortunately, the boss can ‘only give EXCELLENT ratings to 14% as per HR norms’. On the plus side, now you don’t feel as guilty about urinating into the ERP server.
9. Spending months drawing up the most absurd, restrictive, fascist travel policy. And then manning the travel desk with the dregs of humanity. In fact, this is true of most corporate policy. The more time spent drawing it up, the stupider the people in charge of enforcing it.
10. Office birthday parties. Yes. Exactly the same standard menu, exactly same email invitation format and exactly same decorations are exactly the way to make me feel special. Puke.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com
Also Read | Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns