Green-eyed monster

DOING THE right thing could create the wrong impression with colleagues, according to new research.

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A light being left on in an unoccupied office or a recyclable item put in the wrong bin can provoke emotions as strong as guilt, rage or despair claims Rebecca Whittle, a senior research associate at Lancaster University. Whittle, who presented her findings to the Royal Geographical Society, claimed that the rise of environmentalism is making the workplace brimful of emotion, with seemingly small matters like people leaving computers on overnight, driving rather than cycling to work, or not turning off office lights at the end of the day, provoking strong reactions. “Ignorant bastards,” she muttered (possibly).

 

Thankfully, this anti-green behaviour wasn’t as bad as listening to loud music through headphones or having private conversations without considering those who were trying to concentrate.

 

More thankful still (but perhaps not as interesting) is the fact that this green rage is rarely – if ever – expressed or translated into action because challenging someone openly or taking responsibility for another person’s equipment such as a computer would be “unthinkable”. Really? Unthinkable? Or does she mean just a little bit uncomfortable?

 

Unthinkable is hacking into a colleague’s computer, sending the boss abusive messages from their email and then spraying their desk plant with Roundup. Unthinkable is grassing them up when they’ve pulled a sickie to watch the tennis. Unthinkable is telling them their breath smells like a rat’s intestine (incidentally, for more on that see page 14). Unthinkable is not mentioning that you’ve noticed their machine and desk light has been left on overnight. Unthinkable is not encouraging them to think before they print, or to turn the lights off if they’re staying late, or even to scrape the leftovers into the food bin.

 

Given staff fears of ethics-fuelled confrontation, Whittle suggested employers should make it easier for staff to be more environmentally conscious at work. She also said they should “remove the emotional pressure for those who feel strongly about the issues”. Or perhaps remove those that aren’t adhering to the company’s environmental policies?

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