Carpooling Rules


If you aren’t lucky enough to live in a city with mass transit, you can still save gas, the environment, not to mention your personal energy and time by carpooling with your coworkers. The key to keeping every one happy is to create some basic ground rules. While the specifics will vary from car to car and group to group, some basics to get you started can be found in this MSN Career Article.

Ride sharing can be a good opportunity to interact with coworkers from other departments that you wouldn’t normally have a chance to see regularly. If you use this time wisely, it may even help advance your career. As the MSN article suggests, if appropriate, this can be a good place to review speeches, get an other perspective on a proposal and test presentations and speeches.

The top 10 list from the article:
1. Be on time
Even early. Always. Call if you aren’t going to make it so your coworkers aren’t waiting around for you when you are home with the flu.

2. Avoid eating or drinking in the vehicle.
Even if the driver says it is ok, this is not the time to test your new spill proof thermos. You don’t want to be the person who spills clam chowder in your coworker’s brand new car.

3. Discuss and agree on pickup points as well as main and alternate routes beforehand.
Some cities have commuter parking lots. Others don’t. Have plans for bad weather and construction.

4. Let the driver choose the radio station or CD.
Even if you find pop music to be the most grating and awful sound in the world, don’t complain. Maybe there’s a book your entire office is reading, or your boss suggested. Perhaps a business related book might be just the sound everyone can agree on.

5. Refrain from using your cell phone; if you must take or make a call, be brief.
Be respectful. If you’re expecting an important call, give your coworkers a heads up. Same goes for texting. And for goodness sake don’t leave the ringer on or clicks, or beeps or anything that make noise.

6. If you’re feeling under the weather and could be contagious, stay home or ride alone that day.
See point number one. Make sure to alert your rideshare group if you’re not going in. Don’t be the person coughing and sneezing all over everyone. If you absolutely must go in, drive yourself.

7. Pay your share of expenses on time.
Establish this early on. Does everyone pay $15 every two weeks? Or does the driver switch on and off?

8. Keep your conversation appropriate, so as not to offend or cause other riders discomfort.
If you wouldn’t want your boss to hear you say it, or have the details of your conversation broadcast over the office intercom system, don’t talk about it during your commute. Silence is better that an off-color joke that could haunt you for years.

9. No back-seat driving!
Self explanatory. Unless the situation poses imminent danger, stay quiet.

10. And finally, respect your fellow riders’ privacy. Inevitably you may overhear a fellow carpooler vent about his boss or discuss a problem she may be having with her child. What goes on in the carpool stays in the carpool.
Again, see number eight.

More tips:

  • Shower often, wear deodorant and avoid strong cologne and perfume. Remember you are in a very small space and a scent that is subtle to you could easily overwhelm the person sitting next to you.
  • Climate control should also be discussed and agreed on early. Should everyone wear their coats in the car in the winter? Is your office temperature freezing in the summer causing everyone to dress in layers?
  • Review emergencies. What happens if the driver or a passenger needs to get home before everyone else because of an emergency or they got food poisoning at lunch?

The main point is to be flexible, open-minded and willing to follow the rules established by the group so every person arrives at the office safe, happy and with extra money in their pockets.

Do you car pool?

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Overtime

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Overtime is a sticky subject. Obviously, there are legal issues, but there are also culture, relationship and budget factors in the equation.

First and foremost, you should always refer to your letter of employment, employment contract and your employee handbook to answer questions about overtime in your specific company. The second set of resources are your direct supervisor and your Human Resources person. The third is observation. If you are just starting in a position, observe your coworkers. Are they putting in overtime? Are they including it on their time sheet?

Have you seen The Pitch on AMC? The culture in those offices is to work until the job is done, period. Now, granted, most of those employees are salaried, but the culture of the company is to work more than 40 hours a week.

No employer likes to be nickel and dimed. No employee likes to be monitored like a hawk for every five-minute increment. It’s time-consuming, micromanage-y and petty on both parties.

Let’s say for example, you are an hourly employee and in your letter of employment you are eligible for overtime. You typically work your 40 hours a week, but occasionally you’re asked to come in early or stay a little late. Usually, your direct supervisor considers the extra time to be “comp time” and lets you take a longer lunch or go to an appointment to balance everything out. In this instance, unless otherwise told by your direct supervisor, you should not be putting in for overtime pay. The unspoken rule could be interpreted rule that under three hours should be considered compensation time. When you adhere to this office culture practice, you’re showing you are a team player, conscientious of the cost and budget implications of paying you overtime.

What’s the overtime culture in your company?

Happy New Year!

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Take a moment to be thankful today. Thankful for friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, strangers.

Thank you for your encouragement and support in 2010. I can’t wait for a great 2011!

Networking is not a bad word!

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Recently, I overheard someone compare networking to using people, which is so not true! You offer those in the network the same opportunities and connections they offer you.

It is shocking that in 2010, with the current economy, people are not only not networking, but are refusing to acknowledge that who you know might be the difference between landing a job and remaining unemployed.

Networking is nothing more than cultivating business based friendships and acquaintances. This is something you should be doing whether or not you are looking for a new job.

At the minimum, networking makes you better at meeting people. Meeting and talking with a stranger is just like a job interview. You want to present your best side. The stranger may be your foot in the door at their employer or may know of an upcoming opening. If you never introduce yourself, you’re potentially missing out on excellent opportunities.

If you are uncomfortable with just walking up to someone and introducing yourself, find a mutual friend or colleague and ask her to introduce you.

According to this article from ciscopress.com, “Studies indicate that the cost of hiring through ‘traditional’ methods (recruiters, want ads, and so on) range from $20,000–$40,000 per hire. In contrast, the cost of hiring through referrals and networks is $0. Studies have also found that those hired through referral and social networks—people known by others in the company—have less turnover and make more money than their counterparts hired through formal hiring methods.”

To be successful at networking, you need to have a standard introduction, usually your name, current position and an outside interest. Be prepared to shorten this to simply, “hi, I”m Aurora” in certain situations. Be memorable by asking questions of the person you are meeting such as, “how did you get into [field]?”

After meeting the person (and hopefully exchanging business cards!), be sure to write on the back where you met the person and a few details about what you talked about.

When did being Polite become an Anomaly?

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In our overly friendly and casual era, filled with too much personal information, when did simply being polite make you strange?

Yesterday, I tried to give up my chair at a table to someone who had a plate full of food (I was finished eating) and my fellow diners thought this was strange. I thought it was polite. I know how difficult it is to eat standing up, especially knife and fork required conference food. I knew if it was me, I would end up wearing more than half of what was on my plate if I had not eaten at the table.

This encounter got me thinking, I say please and thank you and may I, regularly. Only recently did I notice that these civilities make some people look at me strangely. Someone even commented that I would grow tired of using these civilities. I doubt that will happen. After 27 years, I still wave at everyone I pass, ask, “how are you,” and truly wait for the answer. If this makes me strange, I intend to keep being strange.