Office boo-boos make for great gossip by the water cooler at work. But the fun stops when the star of the story happens to be you. While you'd love to leave your mark at a company, we doubt you'd love to be remembered as "the woman who got fired for posting a photo of her boss's toe nails on Facebook."
Read on for a list of common work disasters, and how to avoid them.
The Twitter/Facebook Overshare. Back in 2009, a woman by the name of Connor Riley tweeted: "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work." Later, a Cisco employee replied: "Who is the hiring manager? I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web." Needless to say, Riley wasn't hired. With today's numerous social networking sites, it's easy to forget that the company you work for is made up of people who frequent those sites too—and nothing can get you fired faster than a rant about work in 140 characters or less.
Avoid it: by keeping your tweets and Facebook status updates work-free. We know it's tempting to leave even a cryptic update without a "who" or "what" in it, but people can easily read into these things, and you never know whose toes you can be stepping on! Save the rants and raves for the next time you meet up with your (non-office mate) girlfriends for drinks.
The "Reply To All" E-mail. You know those e-mails that are sent to everyone in the office? They're mostly about an announcement or an update that everyone in the company must be informed about…which, incidentally, does not include your opinion. So when the boss sends out a memo to everyone that there's no Christmas bonus this year, you know that the next e-mail in your inbox where Cindy from Marketing is complaining to Allan from Finance about how "cheap" the company is was not meant for everyone.
Avoid it: by using your brain and not hitting "reply" right away. Some company e-mail accounts are wired to automatically send an e-mail to everyone in the company if you reply to one that was sent to everyone in the company. Check who the recipient is before shooting off any e-mail.
The Computer Screw-up. It's frustrating when you accidentally delete important data on your computer (especially when a power outage happens and you weren't able to save your work). So imagine if you end up accidentally deleting everyone's data. That's what happened to Glen, an art director who once worked at a design company. He wanted to impress the bosses by "updating" their database, but ended up erasing five years' worth of work on their systems—with no back-up!
Avoid it: by leaving the techie stuff up to the IT Department. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and you'll be doubly hated if you end up destroying other people's work. Stop tinkering with other people's computers, as well as your office-issued one. If you want to make like MacGyver, do it on your computer at home.
The Drunk Jekyll/Hyde. Everyone's got to let loose once in awhile, and nothing fuels an office party like free-flowing alcohol. It's also good to note that nothing fuels office gossip like stories of intoxicated co-workers doing the dumbest, foulest, and sometimes, most violent things. Jen, a writer at an ad agency, recalls that one time when a drunk co-worker got into a fist-fight with a sober co-worker—the drunk one ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and a 30-day work suspension.
Avoid it: by handling your alcohol. If you know you can get out of hand when you've had one too many, then for crying out loud, stay away from the bottle. If it's a company event, you're surrounded by co-workers, or if the drinking session is within company property, do yourself a favor and opt for a club soda instead. You can always do keg stands with your friends outside of work some other time.
Using Office Property—and Getting Caught. It's hard not to take advantage of your office's state-of-the-art laser printer. And who can ignore the kick-ass color photocopier, super speedy laminating machine, and the endless supply of, well, office supplies. But while it may not be such a bad thing to use the printer to print that latest Martha Stewart recipe you found on the web (you'll bring leftovers for your co-workers anyway!), the buck stops there. It's one thing being caught photocopying your gym's schedule for a friend—it's another when you're making copies of your resume to send out to other companies.
Avoid it: again, by using your brain. Be discreet if you're using office property for small, personal things, like faxing over information to your child's school for her first field trip. But don't ever, ever use office property to apply for a new job. Nothing can get you fired faster than having to explain to Human Resources why you jammed the fax machine with your updated resume (which you just so happened to print using the office printer).