BHP Bans the IPod

I came across this article today  discussing mining giant, BHP’s seemingly quite draconian new policy on all things relating to clean desks and it got me thinking. The policy outlines some very specific areas which include; the banning of strong smelling foods being eaten, NO eating allowed at desks, NO leaving of clothes on the backs of chairs, NO iPods or MP3 players as well as this one; which I found most odd…………..Removing all post it notes at the end of the day. Too bad if you didn’t quite manage to get to the particular task that the ‘post it’ was reminding you about for the day. It will now be incomplete as well as being forgotten. According to the new rules, cleaners will have removed your reminder while you are sleeping that night.


This seems a little full on but very interesting, which led me to thinking about ‘rules’ and policies made for the many but brought on by the few. I wonder ‘who was doing what’ to lead BHP to make such a blanket call on so many areas pertaining to office etiquette? The actions of a few can very much ruin the path for the masses, it happens all the time. One wonders what led to these rules.

Perhaps there was a rally held against the stench associated with ‘last night’s leftovers’ which had been lovingly made for family meals, delicious but perhaps a little heavy handed on the garlic side of the food group. Maybe there were several staff members whose work spaces looked as if they were trading as a second hand clothing store on the side, the amount of jackets and uncomfortable heels left under the desks making it hard to determine where the office chair was.

Who knows, perhaps an office chair fell on a staff member after being weighed down by too many winter coats, causing an injury which led to a worker’s comp claim… Don’t laugh, I am sure that this would have happened somewhere in a big corporate…I have heard of ‘paper cut’ inspired workers comp claims so anything is possible.

I totally agree that there are some employees who have quite simply, disgraceful work stations with old coffee cups with bits of mould floating on the top, paper and junk everywhere and Tupperware containers that no one would even want to attempt to wash resulting in the absolutely necessity for a clean desk policy to apply. I also agree that having half your wardrobe perched on the back of your office chair is neither practicing good ergonomics, or in fact, good hygiene, let alone the safety aspect.

I can even see the logic from a client security point of view in wiping white boards clean and protecting sensitive information as well as returning meeting rooms back to normal and leaving them smelling fresh and inviting for the next group of hard working individuals to come into, rather than smelling like you are entering a pizza shop.

However as far as the post it notes and general office space free of all but ‘one framed photograph’ are concerned, this one bugs me! For goodness sake, all employees need to have somewhere they can put reminders about and make their own from a work perspective, providing they follow some basic clean desk policy requirements as mentioned above. Hot Desking is utilised for the purposes of having workstations for ‘drop in staff’ but the vast majority of people go to work each day and sit in the same seats, why not make it an inviting place to work?…

I am one of those people who works best listening to dance music while I am developing documents and doing highly concentrated work, I am literally more productive when I get to do this so the fact that all iPods etc. have been banned is disappointing to me. Yes, there is a time and a place or everything, but one of the keys to productive staff is getting to know what motivates and keeps them engaged. One rule just doesn’t suit all.

On another note, these companies all have swipe cards that can be floor specific so it’s highly doubtful that your average Joe is going to be walking around reading random post it notes on people’s PC’s but I could be wrong.

Post it notes are there as reminders and assist with productivity, can they not be left as such? The mind boggles at what people have been doing for BHP to feel the need to take such measures which are to be implemented across all head offices in Australia. Good Grief!!

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