Friday, October 19, 2007

Alex Malliaris - Office Space

A. What is it that makes Initech an undesirable workplace?

From the opening scene of the movie "Office Space" it is more than evident that people do not want to be at work. I would like to look primarily at the physical workspace because I believe that it has a lot to do with the fact that people are unhappy in the company. Boxed off in their cubicles, no one is able to develop relationships with coworkers. The boss, Bill Lumbergh makes small talk with his employees because he does not truly know who they are. Instead of greeting them pleasantly and asking how they are, he meets them with criticism and a sense of hostility. He has not earned respect in his position, but people are required to report to him as a manager. Thus, he will always be viewed as a dictator and will not gain glad cooperation. What is done on his behalf will be done out of a sense of duty and will not be rewarding either to the employees or the management. If the "walls" we knocked down, a tremendous difference would be made within the company. In one scene, Peter unbolts the cubicle walls that have surrounded him for so long and smiles as he pushes them away. It is immensely freeing for him to see that drab grey blockade come down. It gives him a fresh view of the company and finally allows him a bit of freedom of expression in his impersonal workspace. There is a quote from chapter two of the textbook that ties in perfectly with the movie. "Employees are too often viewed as 'others' to be acted upon, communicated to, ordered, and controlled, rather than as participants in an organizational dialogue." (p. 43) Joanna and Peter both work for companies that disregard the employees. They are viewed as less than humans: they are slaves restricted by the regulations of those in authority. They are not personally invested in these ideals because they had no part in shaping them. Had these "others" been incorporated into the formation of the company policies, the motivation would skyrocket and employee satisfaction would inevitably increase.

B. Key quote

Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care?
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation?

Peter is completely unmotivated in his job. He rides to work and is required to sit through slow traffic, he arrives at the office and sits in a drab cubicle and his bosses greet him with criticisms of his faxes. Nothing is enjoyable about his work because he hates what he does. Ironically, Peter is being considered for a promotion. I have reflected on why it is that Peter is considered worthy of this honor and what stood out to me more than anything else is that he looked that part of the manager. He was slim, caucasian, and clean cut. Even though Michael and Samir were just as active within the company, their jobs were taken away. Peter is certainly not lazy. Once he has it in mind to ruin his company he can not be stopped. The management should have zeroed in on his determination long before and assigned him to a job within the company that would have suited him better. Once people's strengths are put to the test, they will be motivated to do their best work. However, Initech was more concerned with making money in the short term than providing its employees with the emotional and actual benefits of a job that they could enjoy. Had Peter and the others been personally involved with the decisions of the management about how their company would be run, that would have made all the difference.

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