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office culture

'Going Forward' and Other Dumb Things to Stop Saying in Offices

You should be across this.
Screenshot of "Office Space" via YouTube

Let me tell you a little something about "office jobs," yeah? They're nonsense. Utter nonsense. In any one office, literally only one in every 10 people is actually doing a good job. One in 10 is making sure your marketing firm, appliance factory, or federal government etc doesn't absolutely shit itself from a sheer lack of competence.

The sad and brutal truth is that unless you are the one in 10 (you're not, though, are you) or unless do an actually practical job (like engineering new machines or stacking shelves or performing heart surgery or managing a meme account on Instagram) you are not doing a job. You are essentially an actor. You're at your desk, "emailing people" and "taking meetings," which is in no way different to when you flipped imaginary pancakes on your Easy Bake Oven™ back in preschool.


How do these fuckers (you and I) get away with it? Two words: Workplace idioms. And I've had enough of 'em. In fact, I've decided to suggest we outlaw some—if not absolutely all—of them. If you're using any one of these phrases at your workplace then I have terrible news: it, in no way, sounds like you know what you're doing.

Let us begin naming and shaming these expressions, and agreeing as a planet to never to use them again. Thank you for your time.

"Take this offline"

Let's start with the worst of them all. If you don't hear this in your workplace, then you probably don't work at a company that swears to God it knows how to speak to millennials. Here's the funniest (most painfully infuriating) thing about "take this offline": nobody ever uses it literally. It has become this kind of mutated monster, much like the internet's beloved "mind-blowing". Here's the thing: We're in a meeting. We're offline. What do you mean when you say "let's take this offline"? Where do we go from here? How do we get more offline? Shall we retire to a very dimly lit room and sit cross-legged facing each other, staring into one another's eyes with the hope we will be able communicate our ideas exactly? A kind of telepathic, zen-state WIP?

"It's on my radar" / "I am across this"

You know about it, you're working on it. Or perhaps you do not know about it and are not working on it but are insistent on pretending that you do and are because if you don't and aren't you might get fucking fired for being an absolutely useless employee.

"Managing expectations"

Want to know something? This is The Business Equivalent of saying "we plan to continue to disappoint you and we need you to not only be prepared for that, but also to remember not to say anything about your disappointment for fear of looking unrealistic and derailing the systems in place. Thank you for your cooperation."

"Have a pow wow"

I hate to tell you this, old white person who runs a big ol' company full of other white old people, but this is a very fucking racially insensitive thing to say. Pow wows are not for the office. Unless you are holding an American Indian social gathering in the big boardroom that is usually reserved for the boss to meet with her "concierge" with whom she is very much having an affair, then you aren't having a pow wow.


Wow, quick question: When religious fanatics talk about "judgement day," is it at all possible that said judgement day has already arrived and that it was the day people starting saying they would "action" something rather than "doing" it? Is it possible that we are currently living in God's damnation as we speak, but the punishment is so insidious and commonplace now that we fail to recognise it when we see it? A stern word for the actioners of the world: You. Are. Not. Actioning. Shit.

"Moving the goalposts"

Saying that you're moving the goalposts is the most polite and esoteric way of saying that you have changed your mind after realising your original practise was incorrect or nonfunctional and now you must "move" le "goal posts" in order to actually do the thing you set out to do, without admitting you fucked up. In semi-related news, people love a good sports euphemism. Makes them feel like they're fostering the team they insist you are a part of, all the while making a difficult task sound like a fun, sunlit, we're-all-friends-here day in the park. This isn't a job! It's an adventure, you guys! "Coming out swinging," "dropping the ball," "par for the course." We get it you smoke teamwork.

"Going forward"

No. Stop it. You've got to stop saying this. Your colleagues do not need to hear that the thing you're suggesting they do applies specifically to the future tense in the measure of time and existence. That is very much assumed, I promise you. Unless you are a physicist who is experimenting with time travel, in which case you are excused from this. And yes, if you absolutely must know, I did have to google "what kind of scientist works on time travel."

"Let's touch base"

I'm not even going to expand here. As far as I'm concerned there is no point. This should be illegal and everyone knows it.

"Let's blue sky it"

This one. This one is absolute garbage. I only learned about this very recently and nobody I know has ever said this around me but apparently "let's blue sky it" is something used in ads and marketing and its meaning is thus: "Let's think as big as possible, so big that not even the (blue) sky is the limit." This has to be the most disgraceful attempt to invent a saying. I just… I cannot. I cannot in all good conscience allow this to go on. [Jennifer Garner, Conan, Aubrey Plaza voices] …Enough.

"Let's unpack that"

Let's not. Let's not unpack this idea or conversation topic as if it were a high school assignment created solely to justify watching Goodfellas as a class three times. Let us not unbox it for our YouTube channel (which incidentally has 50 million subscribers.) Let us not unfurl it, unwind it, unpick it, uncuff it. Let us not unlock or unhinge it. Let us not pretend we are dismantling a very idea in order to see the sum of its parts and then scrutinize it, making discoveries never dreamed of before by man. Let us just admit we are going to host a series of Alice in Wonderland-themed cupcake pop-up shops at major train stations around the city to promote this new coconut water like we do with every client and call it a day.

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