Month: July 2012

A Handshake Is As Good As A Hug

When I left my first job I think I shook hands with everyone in the unit.  I didn’t think twice about it, a handshake was a professional and courteous way of saying “thank you for being a good colleague”.
A few years later and I was working in the media and with that came double air kisses all round.  I actually think this ramped up because of Ab Fab, in a strange way everyone was trying to emulate what Jennifer Saunders was mocking.  Although thankfully we never adopted the Corsican five kisses or we would never have got any work done.
But now The Kiss has been replaced by The Hug.  I noticed when I finished a recent contract that my colleagues all gathered round to hug me goodbye and a few days later at a networking meeting I was hugged “hello” and “goodbye” by the organiser.  When did we start hugging for business?
I wonder if there is a connection between the increase in remote working and the increase of physical contact when we do meet?  Is it that we need to prove to the other party how much we value them even though we don’t see them every day?
Discussing this with members of my network (both male and female) not many were comfortable about it.  We all felt that hugs and kisses were for family and friends and very occassionaly for a colleague – usually one who has become a friend.
So I’d like to put in an appeal for the return of the handshake.  It was a good enough ritual for the ancient Greeks as a symbolic way of saying: “I come in peace – look no sword”.
My Dad taught me to shake hands – take the hand confidently NOT bone crushingly and look at the person with a smile.  He had worked around the world and said that it was a common currency that crossed cultural boundaries.  However there are national variations – the Norwegians like a firm grip but this is considered rude in the Middle and Far East.
Only once have I had a handshake refused and that was for religious reasons.
However for all those missing their hugs there may be a compromise!
The Hand Hug.
I’m assured this is the handshake of choice for politicians, as it shows them to be warm, friendly, trustworthy and honest. This type of handshake involves covering the clenched hands with the remaining free hand creating a sort of “cocoon.”
I think I’ll stick with what my Dad taught me.

Invasion Of The Temps

Traditionally July and August are the months when permanent staff take their annual leave and make way for the “temp”.  Temporary staff play an essential role in office life, for a start they are responsible for every missing document (hard or soft copy) in every organisation at any time.  It doesn’t matter if they covered for two weeks in August and the document was created in October,  when it goes missing the solution will be: “Oh that was when we had the temp in”.  Usually followed by rolling eyes and knowing nods.
Somebody once said to me “don’t worry too much about where you file all that stuff, we’ll just blame you when we can’t find it anyway”.  Throughout my career I have had periods when I worked as a “temp” and these were some of my most interesting and valuable experiences – one year began at the Treasury and ended at Christie’s auctioneers via the Home Office and one of the security services.
My ideal scenario was to make a great impression in the first booking and then get re-booked as each employee went on leave.  This guaranteed me work but the employer gained continuity as I learned their systems, processes and key personnel.
But times change and as we approach the months when one quarter of UK businesses are expected to take on temporary workers it is worth considering the implications of The Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
Introduced in October 2011 these oblige you to offer temps access to the same facilities as their permanent employees from their first day.  In the main this is just a formalisation of what most you would offer such as the use of parking spaces and the staff canteen and perhaps the provision of a staff handbook for reference.   However employers must now give temps access to any childcare facilities and after 12 weeks continuous employment the temp has to be offered salary parity with the permanent employees.  This creates extra work and burecracy for the employer.
Well there is some good news for when you want flexible staffing – these rules do not apply to employing a Virtual Assistant (VA).  As a VA is a self employed professional and probably working remotely the regulations do not apply.
Holiday cover is an excellent and cost effective way to trial how you could use a VA in your business.
Remember a VA will charge you only fr the time spent working for you – which could be as little as one hour, in fact I specialise in working with clients who need just an extra hour each day.  A temp is usually paid for the hours that they are available to you.  As a VA I can offer you the benefit of my experience to support a range of services and I will take the time to get to know you and your business.  A temp will be gone within a few weeks.  I understand that you may need some help outside of core office hours and can help you to meet your deadlines or commitments.