Nathan offers advice on CSR, office colours and getting loaded at work
Q. I’m not happy with the focus of our firm’s CSR work. They want to be all about cleaning rivers and painting schoolrooms in Africa, but I’d rather do something more cerebral. (Helping inner city kids with CV skills would be more my line.) Any advice?
Trust Gen Y to bring consumer choice and the relentless whining of the Entitlement Kids to the concept of genuine need. The idea that your frankly inconsequential ‘insights’ on CVs somehow packs the same karmic punch as saving kids in Kenya from intestinal parasites is rather like you saying you could replace Cristiano Ronaldo because you’ve played a few games of floodlit 5-aside with your mates in a vain attempt to stop your waists becoming 30-something at the same time you do. If you really wanted to help the local kids then you could do it in your spare time, but let’s be honest, you’re just looking for the least painful way to rack up the points required to meet the CSR portion of your bonus requirement. If your conscience genuinely points you in the direction of helping to shape the next generation of shelf-stackers destined for the meat grinder of international big business rather than offering a helping hand to some wretched no-hopers who think $2 a day is the good life, I can only hope that your next journey home on the Northern Line is under the wheels of the last train to Morden.
Q. We’ve had a new brand at the firm, which means the meeting rooms and toilets are now a shade of green more usually associated with 1970′s bathroom suites. How might I develop a reasonable pitch to the partnership to change it back?
Call me old-fashioned, but I yearn for the days my mum told me about when every bathroom suite was avocado, chocolate or primrose, when G-plan wasn’t a scheme for obtaining semi-legal narcotics and smoked glass was a thing. Seriously, though, your partners have clearly fallen victim to what I call the Haggerston Problem. If you’re not familiar with the Balkanisation of East London, Haggerston is an area which likes to pretend it’s Hoxton, but which isn’t. Haggerston used to be the heroin capital of Europe but stick a few fancy coffee bars anywhere and suddenly it’s Milan. Your designers have convinced the partners that avocado is “in” when in fact they’ve just been leafing through a copy of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s autobiography while taking a dump and finishing off last night’s curry. Nuff said. Unfortunately if they’ve just finished decorating, there’s not a whole lot you can do, but if there’s anything which would incentivise me to bill 2,500 hours and become partner so I could change it back, it’s some c*** painting the bathroom the colour of day-old chicken jalfrezi once it had navigated my alimentary canal in the presence of some ludicrous fop.
Q. This might sound self-deluding, but I actually work better when I drink. (Alcohol, I mean, not Red Bull or Berocca.) Consequently, I do a lot from home with a bottle of wine by my side. Sneaking the odd glass at work would make life easier, but would I get away with it?
The short answer is no. The long answer is you might think you work better when you drink, but you don’t; rather in the way most drivers think they drive better when they drink, just before they end up ploughing the wife’s Vauxhall Frontera into a tree on the way home from the pub. Rather than screw up your career and your liver with this ridiculous delusion, try this visualization exercise. Every time you reach for the bottle when you work, imagine your own face smashed into the interior windscreen of a Frontera, your chest crushed like a can by the steering wheel, your sternum now imprinted with a jaunty gryphon which will bring a smile to the pathologist. If that doesn’t put you off, I don’t know what will. After all, the Frontera is a REALLY bad SUV. NG