Workplace camouflage

Confucius

Of course, if you have not found that wonderful job then you may be among the millions who try to hide out every day in the workplace.  Keeping your head down, struggling through the day, watching the clock and willing the hands to move faster so that you can escape to your real life.  Sound familiar?  Here are three techniques you need to master.

There are three main forms of camouflage, crypsis, mimesis and dazzle.

Crypsis involves blending into the background so that you are not noticed.  Think of a soldier in a camouflage suit, or a tank draped in netting and leaves to mask its shape and shadow.

If you have an office you could hide in there for long periods of the day and hope nobody comes looking for you.  Bathrooms are also good hiding places, stairwells, fire exits.

Open plan spaces are harder.  Try to wear clothing of the same colour as the partitions and walls.  Don’t move around too much, avoid jerky or sudden movements.  Move like a sloth.

Another good approach is to try to resemble your co-workers as much as possible.  If you all dress in uniform clothing this can be a help.  Adopting the same hair styles, glasses etc can make you all look the same and will confuse supervisors and other predators.

Many Cryptics surround themselves with a smokescreen.  This used to be effective when smoking was permitted in the workplace.  Now it is done in the “smoking area”.

The problem with crypsis in the workplace is that you can be identified as a slacker and targeted by an attentive supervisor.  One day you turn up and find you are on a performance improvement plan and that’s a complete hassle because you have to update your CV…again.

Mimesis is a stronger workplace camouflage strategy.  This is the art of disguising yourself as something else.  A battleship made to look like a cargo ship, or an arms depot that looks like a terrace of housing.

As a mimic you make the Customer Care supervisor believe that you work in accounts and lead the Head of Finance to believe that you work in Customer Care.  As long as they hate each other you will never be found out.

Mimesis works best with supervisors who don’t communicate to each other.  It is a perfect strategy for organisations that work in silos.  For instance if you work in a hotel you could let the head of housekeeping believe that you work in security and when the head of security finds you in a room you start making the bed.  Many workplaces try to prevent mimesis by having different uniforms for different departments.  Try inventing your own uniform by blending two others!

Another mimesis stragegy is to invent a boss who does not exist.  You make yourself look like the loyal PA to a very important person who is forever in meetings, conferences and trips abroad.  It is a sophisticated strategy which requires a great deal of backing paperwork to maintain the illusion.  In fact it is almost as hard as a real job, so difficult to understand why you would bother.

In nature animals use mimesis to look like objects.  An insect may look like a leaf, or a twig.  It takes a master of workplace camouflage to look like an office plant or a computer stack.  It can also be quite hard work.  To be avoided unless you are a yoga master.

Dazzle is the best form of workplace camouflage.  Dazzle involves hiding in plain sight but confusing the enemy.  Ships painted in dazzle were easily visible, but you could not tell which direction they were sailing in.

As a dazzler you never move through the office or work-space at a walk or a stroll.  You move fast, on your toes, and always with a very important looking file in your hand.  That file is going to someone VERY IMPORTANT.  Anyone who sees you knows immediately that you are not someone to be delayed or stopped.

Nobody can figure out if you are coming or going.  Early birds in the office are astounded to find that you are always there ahead of them.  Managers who hang around the office late in the evening, waiting for their partner to feed the kids before they get home, are impressed to find you still there when they are leaving.  Everyone figures you must be working 70 hour weeks.  Meanwhile you sleep in your bed from 10am to 4pm, getting ready to party the night away.

You frequently break this pattern by turning up around lunchtimes, eating messily at your desk as you book holiday flights online, cruise chat-rooms and generally look like a stressed out employee.  As the masses return for the afternoon grind you disappear in a cloud of cappuccino vapour.

You don’t blend into the furniture.  You dress loud and talk louder.  You laugh at the Cryptics and the Mimics.  You loudly identify them to the office with criticisms along the lines of “Did you take the morning off?” as they arrive into work at 9am, or “Taking a half day?” as they depart at 5pm.  You proclaim to the office “I don’t do annual leave” and “I don’t do sick” and explain that you are on the career fast-track.

You fear only one thing.  The annual review, when you are asked to explain exactly what you have done.  You spend weeks practicing obfuscation, simulation and rhetoric which suggests achievement where none actually exists.  Get it right and you’ll go far!

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