The Memo

I’ve worked for quite a few organizations over my career and while they were all unique they all had two things in common – the Personal Usage Memo and the Hygiene Memo. I’m fairly confident everyone has seen these, but if you haven’t here’s the overview of each:

Personal Usage Memo
This memo is sent by the boss to the entire company/department/team to remind them that company property (phones, computers, mobile devices, etc.) are not to be used for personal business. The memo almost always starts with, “It has been brought to may attention that…” and it’s sent to the entire group even if only one person is violating the policy, purportedly to remind everyone of the policy but realistically because the boss doesn’t have the balls to confront the violator one-on-one.

Hygiene Memo
This is my favorite, mainly because it is almost always necessary and it also almost always overwrought. Basically it comes down to this: people are slobs and they’re lazy. They don’t clean up after themselves and, like in most of our households, one or two people end up cleaning up after the rest. There’s also the matter of cluttered desks, which is less a problem for co-workers but can be an issue for companies that might have policies related to security, privacy, etc. So this particular memo is necessary, but when it’s written the boss almost always gets too specific and then defensive about the remedies being sought. It should be as simple as, “Dear everyone, we’re all adults here and as adults you should know our company’s policies related to how your work space is to be kept. In all of our common areas like the kitchen you should know to clean up after yourselves so that you don’t gross out everyone else. Please act like the adult you are.”

Unfortunately offended bosses can’t help themselves and go into excruciating detail about what they perceive as the problem and what they’d like done about it. Those are the memos that tend to make their way into the public realm and open the authors up to some pretty good teasing. Best example of late is this memo from Wired’s editor to his staff and the dramatic reading of it in the video below. Enjoy.

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