Self Help

‘Excellent leadership. You really are leading the way in self-care’ – Financial Times

Saskia, the wellbeing director

Thank you for coming to the sleep seminar. I know it was mandatory but you are busy people. Where’s Ellen? Sick, oh well, there’s a virus going around. Exhaustion? OK, just as well I’m here.

I am going to start with a guided meditation. Could you put your phones down? If Charles, our esteemed chairman, can have a screen break, we all can. Excellent leadership, Charles. You really are leading the way in self-care.

Shut your eyes and think of a time when you were happy and relaxed. John, can you describe the scene? You can’t think of one? Oh, come on. When was your last holiday? Last month? There you go! There must have been a time when you weren’t holed up in your hotel room on the phone to work. OK, try to think of another time . . . The sea is warm and the sand is between your toes, excellent! What were you doing? Building sandcastles, great. With your children? No? You were a child yourself. OK, everyone open your eyes. John, would you mind waking Charles? Gently, please.

Let’s discuss barriers to eight hours’ sleep. So, full disclosure, I am guilty of binge-watching Netflix until late. Anyone else? Will? No time? John? Same? Oh, Charles, what are you watching? The Ted Bundy Tapes. OK.

Any other barriers to getting your eight hours everyone? Heavy workload, yes. Emails through the night, yes. Have you tried switching off your phone after 9pm, like Charles? Such good sleep hygiene, Charles. No, John. I’m not joking.

Well, help is at hand! We’ve installed nap-pods! Would anyone like to volunteer? Anyone other than Charles? John? Of course you won’t look like you’re sleeping on the job. Your health is important. Sure, I guess you could use them later. They’re not really for overnight but yes, if you miss the last train home, I don’t see why not.

Ronald, the mug neurotic

4.05pm. From: Ronald. To: AllHQ. Dear colleagues — I’ve mislaid my favourite mug (again): white, slightly chipped, with a picture of a dancer in evening dress and the slogan “Hot! Hot! Hot!” Sentimental value only but I am thirsty and no other mug will do. Especially not the cheap new ones with the company logo.

4.30pm. Colleagues — Thanks for your responses, except if you are the person who left the mauve Post-it note with “good riddance” sharpied on it. I do NOT appreciate your snarkiness.

4.55pm. Folks. Still hunting. To the co-worker pretending to be from HR on the #miscellaneouscrap Slack channel, yes, this is “that mug” where the lady seems to undress as hot tea is poured in. What of it? If you must know, my sister bought it for me as a joke. Since she passed away it has become an important link with her precious memory.

5.14pm From: IT. To: AllHQ. As we approach the busy period of the day, please do not use group email for anything other than urgent messages. Unnecessary traffic is slowing our response times.

5.15pm. From: Ronald. To: AllHQ. The mug’s in poor taste! So what?! Since Project Agile, it has been hard to make ourselves at home here.

5.20pm. Call me nostalgic, call me compulsive (not “weird” as I just heard someone whisper), but this mug is more than just a mug. Each indelible ring-stain is a phase in my career. This mug is us. This mug is the vessel for a warm community spirit that decades of “right-sizing” cannot chill.

5.23pm. Remember: first they came for the novelty crockery, and I did not speak out . . . 

5.35pm. Found the mug. In my locker. Thanks to the colleague who saved it from the cleaners, washed it up and returned it. While I’m here, has anyone seen my stapler? Red with a picture of a bikini-clad swimmer Sellotaped to the base? Sentimental value, again: it was a gift from my first wife.

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