A cautionary story about cake
In my office, the company gives you cake. It’s a perfunctory cake but served up daily, it keeps employees reasonably happy and productive. Even though employees get cake every day, they barely notice it and never sing its praises. They probably think that everyone gets cake – and in a way, I suppose they’re right.
The company-provided cake is alright – it’s pretty standard issue cake: a slab of network sponge, a slather of governance jam on top (very popular with the management!), a layer of ERP, a splurge of cultural filling and then the productivity tool cake topping it all all. Three tiers of cakey goodness. Of course, it’s got lots of decorations on top but everyone knows that’s not really the cake and that’s to distract you from what the cake is really like. Trouble is, the governance jam often doesn’t cover the cake and the cultural filling is loaded in some strange places.
Everyone has a slice of cake each day to help them get through the day.
In recent times, some folks have been bringing their own cake into the office. On the one hand, the bosses are delighted as this cake is often better than the cake the company provides and, of course, it doesn’t cost them anything. The employee cake is fancy and beautiful and has so many layers. The only trouble is that it doesn’t have any of that governance jam that the bosses so love so the cake can fall apart, leaving crumbs behind and jam in the carpet. The cake is free, but the mess it makes cost the company.
Employees now have a bit of company cake and employee cake – they mix and match would you believe. Well, I tell you, it looks a mess! Sometimes, it tastes so good but as many now know to their cost, it can make you feel pretty sick with that crazy mix of flavours. Some employees aren’t at all sure which cake to eat, so end up having none at all. Also, not nearly enough governance jam to hold it all together. Some people are not sure why there’s so much cake and why there are so many different layers.
The management team are now contemplating banning employee cake as it creates unmanageable expectations of the company cake; it comes with lots of hidden costs and doesn’t have the lovely jam.
Honestly, this is a story about cake. Do you have any cake solutions?
Just as an abundance of cake causes problems in the office – and for employees’ health – so too does a multitude of information and communication platforms. Multiple, competing tools leave users confused and impede true collaboration. Banning home-made cake (or BYOx) isn’t the answer – instead, we need to understand employees needs and preferences and find a way forward that helps employees be productive.