Workplace: news and advice on management and the business environment — February 2018

Accountants can now update their skills via a virtual reality adventure game, while chatbots could soon be doing all your rote tasks.


An accountant’s nightmare adventure

Just because your coworker is sitting at her desk wearing the latest PlayStation virtual reality (VR) headgear doesn’t mean she’s not — er — working. She could be upgrading her professional skills via the just-released Accounting+ virtual reality adventure game. According to manufacturers, Accounting+ features “various activities in the VR accounting world with levels that’ll put your intelligence to the test.” Accounting+ is described as a “nightmare adventure comedy” and if that doesn’t sound like real work, what does?



How to get time off to learn stuff

Pause book cover

Rachael O’Meara, the author of Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break, recently wrote about how to ask your boss for time off to learn new skills in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review. Her advice? Be as strategic as you would with an outside sales pitch. Describe exactly how you want to learn and grow. Be specific; know what these value-added skills will do for your organization and how your growth will help your boss. Think about what each person in the decision-making process has to gain. Worst case scenario? A flat-out “no.” But you’ll at least have proven your desire to grow.



Come in at noon? Just do it!

Nike headquarters in Portland, Ore., has instituted flexible work times to suit workers’ chronotypes: “Morning types are celebrated and deemed more worthy because they are in the office earlier,” says Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and the author of Why We Sleep. “Evening types are usually penalized because they come in late, but they could work late. Companies are starting to understand that it’s nobody’s fault — it’s genetic.”



Chatbots prepped to do half your job

Have you ever found yourself rifling through papers wondering why you spent all that money and time earning your designation when it seems all you ever do is grunt work? If so, you should meet Pegg, or her cousin, Botkeeper. These are two of a slew of new chatbots — software that acts as your personal assistant. The latest chatbots can handle rote tasks such as handling receipts, updating accounts and paying bills. What’s more, the more you chat with chatbots, the more language skills they develop and the more jobs they can do.



Interview or improv routine?

The pros at Glassdoor’s recruiting site advise jobseekers to be prepared for oddball interview questions. The answers demonstrate how well folks think on their feet. Here are some of Glassdoor’s favourite zingers. Asked at Tim Hortons: “What was the last thing you Googled?” At Bench Accounting: “Which Game of Thrones character do you like most?” At Jack Astor’s: “If you could be one utensil which would it be?” At Paramount Canada’s Wonderland: “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” One of the answers to that? “Yes, please, do you have one?”