Did you catch the Oscar ceremony on television last week? If you did not, it doesn’t matter. Channels have been broadcasting highlights of the event and magazines are carrying colourful features, where you can catch the famous red carpet, beautiful bodies and designer gowns. But amid all this Hollywood glitz and glamour, all of us who work in offices strongly feel the need for our own Oscars. There are tonnes of corporate awards for brilliant work performances, exceeding sales targets, creating winning advertisements, achieving excellent profits, but what we sorely lack are awards which recognize simple, good and welcome behaviour in our offices. The Office Oscars are being established for precisely this purpose.

Workplace winners: Draw up your own list of Oscar nominees.Raajan/Mint

The ‘Smiling Boss’ Oscar

These days, bosses rarely smile, and they never ever smile on Monday mornings. You would also have noted a grim axiom: the bigger the boss, the smaller his or her smile gets, until, like Alice’s Cheshire Cat, the smile vanishes altogether. So our first Office Oscar category is for the boss with the widest Monday smile. Just imagine how well you could kickstart the week if your biggest boss met you in the lift today with a wide grin on his face. This may become infectious, because the entire office would end up smiling and whistling as we went about our work. Productivity would zoom. Nominees for this award should ideally also possess some sense of humour, and a self-depreciating wit. But we know we can’t have everything, so we will happily settle for the smile alone.

The ‘No Powerpoint’ Oscar

PowerPoint presentations which are 100-plus slides long, with zillions of colourful charts, have replaced simple presentations on transparent acetates or discussion papers which used to make the essential points so well. Today’s impressive-looking PowerPoint presentations obfuscate everything, and are the ultimate victory of style over substance. To reverse this downward slide, we announce the No PowerPoint Oscar, to be given to the manager who shuns the use of PowerPoint presentations, and instead circulates a simple note which sets the basis for meaningful discussion at any meeting. At a stretch, managers who use PowerPoint but limit themselves to less than five slides per presentation can also apply for this award—this still represents good progress from the current morass.

The ‘Cellphone Etiquette’ Oscar

Nothing is more irritating than participants in a meeting constantly fidgeting with their mobile phones or texting away on them, or, even worse, busily typing into their BlackBerrys while an important point is being desperately made. Our next category, therefore, honours the office colleague who refuses to touch his or her cellphone during official meetings or gatherings. Here is an upright man or woman, who respects the people and conversations around him, and assiduously avoids the most accessible temptation in today’s office. Managers who believe in regular tweeting are banned from applying for this award, and those who constantly circulate or receive lewd or other jokes by SMS are unlikely to win in any case because that fleeting smile on their faces gives it all away.

The ‘Good Food’ Oscar

The award goes to the manager who arranges the best lunches or snacks in meetings organized by him or her. Aren’t we fed up of those oily ‘samosas’ and chips served in late evening sessions, or that greasy chicken curry and rubbery ‘paneer’ butter masala served during lunches in offsite meetings ? On the other hand, there are so many wonderful, diverse and affordable food options around us. With some planning and no additional budgets, our managers can ensure exotic Mexican fare or tasty ‘chaat’ in the evenings, delicious Chettinad- or Gujarati-themed cuisine for lunch. Special marks should be given to choice of desserts while evaluating contenders for this award, because a nice, light sweet dish with character rounds off an excellent office meal perfectly. Owners or contractors who run canteens in our offices are also welcome to compete for this prestigious award.

The ‘Shortest Meetings’ Oscar

Long, interminable meetings have become the bane of our lives. If the amount of time spent in meaningless meetings is added up, the result may entirely explain the yawning productivity gap between India and China. So our second category is for the person who organizes the shortest meetings throughout the year. He or she can be your peer, team member or boss. All the nominee has to do is ensure that every meeting is extremely short, focused only on the issue at hand, always begins and ends on time. Organizers of any meeting where doodling or sleeping or daydreaming is noticed are instantly disqualified.

The ‘Item Number’ Oscar

This will be the biggest Office Oscar of them all, because if offices have to be interesting places, they need interesting people. If everyone was a workaholic manager like me, or an expert IT specialist or manufacturing expert, focused on work alone, the office would soon resemble a graveyard without a ghost. Fortunately, our Item Number Oscar award has been specifically constituted to deal with this problem. It will be awarded to the most interesting person in office. Someone who has attitude and spunk, has broken a few rigid norms, created some innocent mischief, violated a few meaningless office codes, or played a few harmless tricks which have made the office come abuzz with life. Colleagues who have stoked controversies during the year are encouraged to apply. Members of senior management, mostly a boring lot, should stay very far away from this Oscar.

Harish Bhat is chief operating officer—watches, Titan Industries Ltd. He hopes to apply in the “Good Food" category this year, but his colleagues will tell you most emphatically that he will never ever be nominated for the “Shortest Meetings" Oscar.

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