Lukewarm champagne and tepid speeches – the office Christmas party

In the course of my working life I have participated in many – and different – office/company Christmas parties: with tea and cookies in the office, with pizza and games in the canteen, at the sausage stand at the Christmas market, in a specially rented small theatre (including performance) and at the big ball in an “exclusive location”. The number of guests has varied between 5 and several hundred, and as far as dress was concerned, anything from jeans to evening gowns.

But one thing all Christmas parties had in common was of course the speech by the management. Often this address has weighed on the shoulders of the selected (or coerced) managers since the previous October. And it also entails different strategies, depending on whether the previous fiscal year was successful or not.

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Year End Sweet and Sour

Note from the Harlequin editor:  In order to slowly get you into the right mood for the end of the year, our new articles all deal with the topic of “year ends” until the end of 2019 – sometimes from a professional, sometimes from a private point of view. Today we start with a culinary contribution – enjoy!

We had just become parents that year. The little one was actually cute, but we parents were on the verge of a nervous breakdown at times, especially when travelling, because our daughter threw up everything she ate consistently between 65 and 75 kms on a 200 km route to parents or parents-in-law. And now Christmas was just around the corner. In order to spare the baby (of course only her!) unnecessary travel stress, we invited parents and parents-in-law to our home without further ado. After all, Christmas is THE family celebration…

The Rumtopf had already been started in June and should have reached its peak, the hotel rooms were booked and the weather also played along, so that people could arrive comfortably. Exchanging presents was accompanied by “Ohs” and” Ahs,” rather than an “Oh gosh!” And so slowly pangs of Christmas hunger were registered. Baby was sleeping and the feast could begin.

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Digital Nomades – The herd moves on

Being able to exchange information promptly and over long distances has always been the decisive driving force behind new forms of communication. In most cases older practices have faded into the background and then – over time – been “forgotten”. Interesting migration paths of communication are to be found everywhere. Adults view the communication behaviour of their children or today’s youngsters critically (and with a degree of horror). And there we have it: we can hardly imagine these kids without smartphone, SMS and WhatsApp!

These means and forms of communication are nevertheless only the logical development of earlier communication forms such as carrier pigeons, postcards, telegrams and the local pub. By the way, these too were denounced at “their time” just as much as Twitter, Facebook and co..

New connectivity and changed communication in society is neither a reason for panic nor an obligation to join ranks. It is what it is – new technology – with its advantages, prejudices, trends and the necessity to deal with it.

This also includes the digital nomad scene as a new, hip form of work for young people. Like migrant workers and the Pony Express it is changing connectivity and creating new jobs for digital nomads. At the same time, however, it also create new problems that are usually not so readily reported on. We’ll take a look at a few of them in this article.

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Fitness the Dutch Way – the “Vierdaagse“

Having repeatedly reported on the Dutch people’s preference for deep-fried delights on harlekin.blog, I would now like to address the issue of how the citizens of my adopted country manage to keep fit despite these temptations.

From my observations, I can say that this must partly due to the fact that cycling is still extremely popular in the Netherlands, even in sub-optimal climatic conditions. All manner of more or less roadworthy versions of child seats, child trailers, etc. are to be seen often with mothers or fathers and three small children distributed around the bike.

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Holding up the mirror

HR Business Partner – the modern court jester in companies?

This is a contribution by our guest author Christoph Henties. Christoph already published the three-part “Organisations Learn Jazz” in June this year. We are very happy to have him back this week.

Recently, in a conversation with an experienced, committed HR manager, she quoted one of  her superiors: “Our job in HR is solely to implement the board’s decisions and measures.” I visibly felt the restrictive effect of this statement of loyalty to the hierarchy on my interviewee. The disappointment at neglecting one’s own ideas for constructively shaping creative personnel work for employees and the organization was all too noticeable.

The concept of the court jester came to my mind: a figure who could tell the authorities unpleasant truths without fearing the consequences. This figure could mention the unspeakable. It had the task of telling the ruler the truth, had the freedom of fools.

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My Life as a Digital Nomad

Part 2

With the start of the new millennium, conditions for mobile work got better. The number of Deutsche Telekom DSL connections grew from 0.6 million in 2000 to 13.3 million in 2008. The introduction of Skype in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis made it possible for the first time to make video calls without having to pawn house and home. So I (finally) had video at my disposal in addition to telephone and email, which had become prevalent by then. My laptops became lighter and more powerful and had integrated modems.

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Let’s go get some fries!

A decision aid for hungry foreigners in the Netherlands

French fry fans don’t always have an easy time in the Netherlands, because the established “extras” to French fries are different from what we know from the average chip shop elsewhere. Since we take the life-support function of our Harlequin blog very seriously, we would like to support you in your decision-making here as well.

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The Land of the Rising Lid

Recently I was asked for a holiday recommendation, to which I unhesitatingly responded: Asia. ”Ooh, nah, it’s hot and dirty there” was the reaction.

Our recent experiences in Japan proved the exact opposite. The first thing that strikes you as you speed into Tokyo on the high-speed train is how clean the place is. Crowded, yes, what do you expect if you cram 38 million into a city? But the houses are spotless and well-tended, no graffiti is to be seen, and the streets free of litter, chewing gum and dog souvenirs. They say they had to remove all the litter-bins after the sarin attack on the underground, but that alone cannot explain such cleanliness.

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Who cares?

Have you noticed those stickers? They are proudly displayed on cars – mostly on the back and often on vehicles like the KIA Carens and the Peugeot 807. Very rarely or not at all on a Mercedes Benz SLK or an Audi TT. You may think: “Oha! The latter vehicles are well-endowed with horsepower, while the former are in need of it.” With this I counter with the Opel Tigra Twin Top, which even with the largest engine produces a modest 125 bhp. Now you might think: “Eureka, I‘ve got it. The latter are made by German carmakers and the former are from countries less skilled in car making.” I counter such a foolish assessment with a dry “Citroën C3 Pluriel”, a convertible like SLK and TT, which is built in a country that stands for French bread and overpriced red wine, and in terms of power potential still lags behind the above-mentioned Opel.

The former often sport small screens at the back fastened to the headrests, which is never the case for the latter. To all those who now think: “The latter can only accommodate two people, while the former can accommodate six to seven”, we can only shout “Brilliant!”

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