Workplace Tips to Help You Survive the Recession.

The recession isn’t going away anytime soon (jobs bill notwithstanding), so we’re offering a handful of workplace tips to tide you over till the economy improves/World War III arrives.

As an employee, you’re not that powerless: sure, you’ve probably seen one or more of your colleagues getting laid off, but if you’ve gotten to this point and still hung on to your job (in which case, congratulations!), you still have the power to minimize the effect of the slowdown in your company, and yourself by extension.

What are you doing to contribute to cost cutting in your office? The company’s already done most of the heavy lifting – cutting salaries and fringe benefits, reducing the budget for food and transportation, and slimming down the workforce.

Now the onus is on you – it’s now your responsibility to help the office find places to cut costs. When you do this, you reduce your company’s operating costs, and thus you ease your company’s way through to the end of the recession.

If there’s one thing you take away from this list of workplace tips, it’s this: you’re not a passenger anymore, you’re a stakeholder. Take an oar and row.

Take printing paper: don’t print stuff that can as easily be emailed. Reducing your printing quota not only saves your company a mint, it also helps the environment, too. Use as little paper as possible, for your company’s sake.

Reduce your travel expenses, by relying more on the phone and Skype. If travel can’t be avoided, try to exhaust all possible cheap deals on tickets, through Expedia and Kayak.com. Hot tip: book early for the lowest prices on tickets.

Save electricity – shut down your PC when you’re done, and unplug all the appliances you use at work before you head off for home. Be careful with office resources – and remember that electricity and water are among the easiest office resources to waste.

Finally, avoid using the office phone to make personal calls. Use your personal cellphone, or use email or instant messaging. Try and get a texting package on your cellphone that allows unlimited texting.

Every little bit helps. With the recession still going strong, you now have a greater stake in your company’s success… and a greater responsibility to your company.

Cubicle Decorating Building Blocks.

Going cubicle decorating? Good start. By flashing up the ol’ workspace, you’ll make your cubicle your own, create some conversation starters for colleagues, and improve overall office morale and productivity.

Cubicle decorating begins with some pretty simple building blocks. These items are easy to find and easy to personalize: Start with these items and you can put that personal stamp on your cubicle in no time!

Plants, real plants. While plastic plants are easy to place and easy to take care of, real plants have significant advantage over their artificial analogues. Real plants exude oxygen, which is good news for your productivity (your brain needs more of the stuff, and offices are notoriously low in this life-giving gas).

Plants are also guaranteed mood boosters, and the right ones add an invigorating dash of color to a drab workplace. Just don’t get a plant that exudes pollen or a too-strong smell.

Just remember this when using plants for cubicle decorating: choose plants that won’t grow too much. You want a plant that will help you interact with your colleagues – impossible when it blocks the hallway or your view of the rest of the office.

Family pictures. Adding a framed image of your loved ones tells your workmates that you have a life outside your office. Having images of family creates a positive impression of yourself in the workplace, too.

Postcards. A real, written-in postcard from a family member abroad is cubicle decorating gold – a personal touch that shows your sense of adventure and (depending on where it’s from) a sense of belonging to a larger world.

Candy bowl. A dish of treats is more than just a cubicle decorating whim – it’s a great conversation starter and a cool way to make new friends, especially when you’re new and you need an excuse to socialize with your new cubicle neighbors.

Calendar. A personalized calendar that shows off your personality or interests can “brand” your cubicle as yours like nothing else can. Hey, you might also get to meet other colleagues who share your interests!

Relationships at Work: Managing the Minefield.

Admit it, it’s crossed your mind: the idea of having romantic relationships at work appeals to you, besides, you think Denise at Accounting has been giving encouraging signs, being a little too liberal with the office Post-its (see video above).

Join the club: Careerbuilder.com’s 2009 survey finds that four out of ten workers cop to dating a colleague at work, with three out of ten saying they ended up married to the person.

CareerBuilder.com’s Rosemary Haefner isn’t surprised by the results. “Employees spend many hours interacting with co-workers, so it’s not unusual for romances to spark,” says Haefner, who works as the site’s Vice President of Human Resources. “While workplace relationships may be more accepted these days, with 72 percent of workers saying they didn’t have to keep their romance a secret, it’s still important for workers to keep it professional and not let their relationship impact their work.”

“Keep it professional” – that’s easier said than done. Regardless of 72 percent acceptability levels, maintaining successful romantic relationships at work is a minefield, not just for the couple but for the whole office.

Part of it is the power equation that simply cannot be erased from the office context: relationships at work are as much about authority as they are about cooperation.

Employment lawyer Edward Hernstadt illustrates the problem: if things go south, an employee can always tell the law that she felt compelled to date the boss. “The supervisor will say, ‘I just asked you to go on a date,’ but the subordinate says, ‘I felt I couldn’t say no,’” recounts Hernstadt.

An office policy that sets the rules of legitimate relationships at work? This might sound positively authoritarian, but today’s litigious environment might force HR’s hand. Many offices now ask office couples to sign a “love contract” that spells out that their relationship is consensual and untied to company matters – this frees human resources from worrying about potential litigation in the future in case the relationship sours.

It’s a little less romantic, but it’s a very practical step to take for burgeoning relationships at work. And it saves the office a lot of Post-its in the process.