How to Create a Healthier Work Environment

Equity Research Associate, New York, NY
Media Sales Associate, Hong Kong, China
Investment Banking M&A Analyst, Greenwich, CT
Business Analyst, Cambridge, MA
Futures Broker, Chicago, IL

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When you spend upwards of eight hours at a desk every day, it’s difficult to focus on your health.  But staying healthy at work is important, because not everybody has the ability to take ample time off to make a full recovery.  Moreover, your well-being affects how you do on the job.  Here are a few things you can do at work to ensure you are your best self, both physically and mentally.

Exercise During Your Lunch Break

It’s important to fit exercise into your routine, especially when you’re sedentary the entire day.  Remaining inactive is bad for your overall health and also leads to weight gain.  So instead of going to the fast food drive-through at lunch, strap on your running shoes and exercise at a nearby park or gym.  Then indulge in something healthy like fruit or a protein bar.

Work on Your Posture

Improving your posture can reduce pain in your shoulders and lower back, and minimize eyestrain.  Adjust your chair and monitor so that your eyes are level with your computer screen, and make sure to sit up straight and all the way back in your seat.  Your keyboard should be at a proper height that allows your wrists to lie straight.  Finally, it’s important to get up and walk around from time to time.

Bring Healthy Snacks to Work

Instead of relying on the vending machine in the break room to provide you with nourishment, bring your own healthy snacks to work.  Fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and yogurts are all great ideas.  Snacking throughout the day will help you to resist the urge to overeat at lunch, and will also keep you alert.  It’s equally important to drink lots of water – bringing along a water bottle will prevent countless trips to the water cooler.  Although if you’re looking for an extra reason to get up and walk around, the water cooler isn’t a bad idea either.

Keep a Clean Working Space

When you get bogged down in clutter you often get stressed out.  Alleviate this by keeping a clean, organized desk.  Doing so will also reduce the amount of dust and food particles that build up over time, which can often draw pests to the scene.

Request Flexible Hours

Try to work with your boss on devising a schedule that works for both of you.  If you have kids, try to work around getting them to school and their various extracurricular activities.  If you aren’t able to function in the morning, find out if it’s possible to come in a bit later.  Working during hours that fit with your schedule is important for your stress levels and mental well-being.

Living a healthier life at the office is important because you spend so much time there.  Consider these helpful tips and improve your health both at work and outside of it.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Tips for Staying Organized

Research Analyst, New York, NY
Experienced Consultant, Chicago, IL
Sr. Accountant, Greenwich, CT
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Analyst, San Francisco, CA

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For many, the constant fight to stay organized can cause stress and cut productivity.  Worse still, it can lead individuals to make mistakes that can have grave consequences for their jobs.  If this sounds like a problem you struggle with, read on for some tips on how to cut the clutter out of your life.

Track, List, and Sort

One of the best ways to stay on top of your projects and deadlines is by developing a system that allows you to track what you have to do and where you stand in terms of getting it done.  Consider creating a list outlining all your projects and their respective due dates.  Alternatively, designate a file or bin for all of the paperwork that you need to go through, and place the most important stuff on top.  Once you’ve done this, make sure to check things off your list as you get them done, or move projects from one bin to another once they have been addressed.

Regroup

While in the midst of your work, it’s helpful to take a few breathers where you pause to consider what you’ve completed and what still needs to be done.  Doing so ensures that you don’t get distracted or miss anything important.  This is where your list or designated project bin will be helpful.

Take Advantage of Every Minute

There are many tasks that can be completed in a short period of time, such as filing documents, shooting off a few quick emails, or making copies.  So instead of putting off these small activities for a later date, do them while you’re thinking about them and likely have a few moments to spare.  Putting them aside for later will only create a backlog of tedious work.

Create Space

There’s nothing worse than losing yourself under a pile of papers.  Try to free up space on your desk by creating files or bins into which you can sort random piles of papers.  This will also help you to track down important documents more easily when you need them.

Throw it Away!

When things start to pile up, take some time to go through everything and throw stuff away.  A good rule is that if you haven’t looked at something in several months, or if you’re unsure about a particular document but it’s something you can easily replace, toss it.  People get attached to their paperwork or worry that they might need it at a later date, and ultimately just end up creating more of a mess than anything else.  Don’t be afraid to utilize your trash bin!

The problem with staying organized is that it’s not a one-time overhaul.  Rather, it’s an ongoing process where you constantly have to make lists, shuffle papers around, and throw things away.  But if you get into good habits now, staying organized won’t seem so trying later on!

Keep it clean,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News February 14: The Office Romance Manual – Navigating Love with a Coworker

Analyst, New York, NY
VP of Business Development, Boston, MA
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Around Valentine’s Day it can be difficult to escape all the love hanging in the air – even at the office.  It’s one thing to stress over the unwanted advances of a lusty coworker, and quite another to worry about how you can make an office romance work when you want it to.  Many companies discourage inter-office romance, but when you’re single and surrounded by like-minded individuals for the good part of your day, it’s difficult not to fall for a few office charmers.  So what is the best way to navigate the often complicated office romance?

Be Aware of Company Policy

While dating someone at the office is not illegal, companies have different policies regarding it.  So if you work for an organization that discourages cross-cubicle romance, try to stay below the radar.  If your boss doesn’t care about who you’re bringing home to Mama, you can breathe a little easier, but remain professional regardless.  This means no footsy, kids!

Keep it Out of the Office

To continue, it’s imperative that you keep your relationship out of the office.  It’s unprofessional to be calling out pet names across the conference room table, and it’s even worse to bring your personal disagreements into work.  It also puts those around you in an awkward position, and sets you up for accusations of favoritism.

Consider the Breakup

Before you embark on an intense amorous affair with a fellow employee, consider what the outcome might be if you break up.  Is this person a boss who might hamper your professional growth if you make them sleep out on the couch?  Is this an individual that works under you who might charge you with harassment or favoritism of other workers when you fail to return a box of their favorite DVDs?  Think long and hard about this, and make sure that if you do go through a nasty break up, the two of you can act like adults, at least from 9 to 5.

Watch Your Online Activity

It bears repeating that you can never be too careful when it comes to representing yourself online.  So if you’re trying to keep an office relationship under wraps, be mindful when you set a relationship status on Facebook, post pictures, or write comments.  It’s also wise to make sure you keep everything tasteful in general.  Another important thing to consider is the emails you send throughout the day.  If you are using your work email account to send a message, others in the company may be able to access it.  Be careful what you send to a significant other, avoid sending personal messages through office accounts, and again, keep it tasteful.

Office romance is on the rise, and with good reason.  Who doesn’t like an intelligent, sexy working man or woman?  That’s what we thought.  Just take a few extra precautions, stay professional, and have fun!

xoxo,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News January 24: How to be a Team Player

Jr. Equity Analyst, New York, NY
Senior Analyst, Washington, DC
Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Jr. Associate, New York, NY
Investment Analyst, Boston, MA

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Being successful at work is about more than just your own personal achievements at a company – it’s about working well together with others.  After all, this is how you contribute to the success of a company, which is the whole reason you are there.  And being a team player at work is about more than just collaborating on projects (this is, after all, your job), it’s also about your attitude and the gestures you make to convey that you’re a part of the team.  Integrate a few of the following pointers into your routine in order to collaborate more with your fellow workers.

Volunteer for Projects

There are always those projects that will come up at work that require a few more helping hands.  So even if said project doesn’t exactly fall under your job description, offer to help out if the team needs some extra manpower.  You’ll really help out your coworkers, people will appreciate your efforts, and you might learn something new that can help you out in your own work.

Offer to Help a Coworker

If you sense that a coworker is falling behind on their work or that they’re going to be staying late that evening working on a big project, ask them if there’s anything you can do to lighten the load.  It’s often better for the company if the project is finished more quickly, and you may help that coworker catch something that they might have missed in the anxiety of tackling such a large task in the first place.

Go to Lunch

Some people like to use their lunch breaks as a chance to run errands, catch up on emails or phone calls, or get away from the office for an hour; but make it a point at least once a week or a few times a month to sit down and talk with your coworkers over a meal.  You may find that the peers who are high-strung throughout the rest of the day are really neat people during their down time when they aren’t thinking of the work at hand.

Take Part in Company Activities

Whether it’s a potluck, a birthday celebration, or an office contest, try to get involved in company activities when these come up.  If your office is part of a recreational softball league but you just aren’t athletic, show your support by cheering on your coworkers from the stands.  Taking part in the extracurricular activities of your office makes work more enjoyable for you, as well as endears you more to your coworkers, who may work more productively with you as a result.

Not everyone is a natural socialite, but even if you are shy or new to the company, there are still ways to be a team player.  Ultimately, your coworkers will appreciate your efforts, and will reach out to you more as a result.

Time for a good ol’ group hug!

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News December 20: The Art of Office Gift Giving

Research Associate, New York, NY
Business Analyst, San Francisco, CA
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Holiday shopping for your loved ones can be hard enough, but trying to find the perfect gift for your boss or coworker can really add to your holiday stress.  Should you even get one in the first place?  And what’s appropriate?  Read on for some guidelines…

Understand the Office Policy

Offices can have some pretty complicated policies when it comes to gift giving.  After all, a company wants to avoid bribery or favoritism, and gifts around the holidays can get into some gray area.  Generally larger corporations are the ones that will have rules regarding what’s appropriate to give, so make sure you check before you stroll into the office with a toy sack slung over your shoulder.

Don’t Go Overboard

While you may be in a very giving mood this holiday season, it’s advisable not to go overboard with the gifts you pass out.  Organized office gift exchanges will generally have price limits in place, but if you’re going out on your own, don’t purchase anything that’s too extravagant or expensive.

Keep it Simple

Some good ideas for gifts include food baskets containing cookies, fruit, or candy – perfect for a coworker to share with his or her family.  You can also try exotic plants, or something that might be useful in the office.  Gift certificates are also a nice way to show your appreciation.  Yeah, all this stuff can seem boring and unoriginal, but you never know how another person’s taste might differ from yours, and it’s best to stay on the safe side.  You should avoid giving gifts that are tasteless or controversial, and stay away from giving clothes.  The bottom line here is to use your best judgment.  If you’re great friends with a coworker outside of the office, or have a really relaxed company culture, you probably have more latitude on gift options.

No Hurt Feelings

If you’re not going to be showering everyone in the office with presents, you probably shouldn’t make a big show of presenting a select few individuals with gift-wrapped goods.  Try to exchange gifts outside of the office or during after hours.  If this is impossible, do so discreetly.

Thanks and Come Again Next Year!

One final note – write a thank you note! It’s true that you don’t have to purchase something for every person who went out of his or her way to give you a gift, but you should remember to say thank you.  Writing a quick thank you note is a considerate gesture…and it locks you in to receive more cool stuff next holiday season!

Happy holidays,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News November 8: How to Handle a Friend Request from a Coworker

Analyst, New York, NY
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Scroll through your list of friends on your various social media profiles, and if you’re like any other online networking obsessed time waster, you’ll probably notice a myriad of names you don’t even recognize.  How they got there you can’t quite recall, but at some point you’ve given them full access to your profile information.  Yet ironically, those are not the people you’re worried about – it’s oftentimes the people you do know well.  We’re talking about coworkers.  You see these people everyday, you work in the next cubicle over, you eat lunch together during your break.  But when it comes to connecting over the Internet, that’s where you feel you must draw the line.  You like to keep your business life and your personal life as separate, and with good reason.  Goody-two-shoes though you may be back at the office, you’re an all-out hooligan after 5pm, your antics better suited far outside the office.  But how do you bring yourself to turn down a friend request from a coworker and continue leading a double life?  Read on…

Deny Requests from All Coworkers

This doesn’t really seem to answer the present question, but a strict policy that involves denying all office related friend requests diffuses most awkward interactions.  If you make it a point to remain cut off from all of your office peers online, no particular coworker will be personally offended when he or she gets rejected.  If, however, you accept some requests and deny others, you’ll likely have some explaining to do.  Certain cast-out individuals will wonder what’s wrong with them, and worse still, what you’re hiding…

Ignore the Request

You could try to make life easier on yourself by dismissing the request altogether.  Don’t address the issue, and maybe your coworker will forget about the overture they made in the first place.  If they happen to bring it up, simply explain that you don’t spend much time on the website, and thus you haven’t gotten around to connecting with them yet.  You can further spin your web of untruths as you explain that you likely won’t be logging on in the near future, and so they can expect your continued absence from their friend network.  If you do take this approach, just make sure that you avoid making all sorts of public changes to your profile, dispelling the illusion that you have limited your online activity.

Create a Different or Limited Profile

An alternative to denying a coworker’s friend request altogether is to create a different, or in some cases, a limited, profile that your office friends can see.  This is less likely to cause any hard feelings, and the coworker will often be none the wiser.  Yet here too, consider creating a general policy for all coworkers.  You don’t want to get caught up in an awkward situation where a good buddy at work brings up the table dancing pictures you just posted, but hid from others in the office.  (Though is said buddy really a buddy if he sheds light on your rowdy weekend first thing Monday morning?)

As we all know, the advent of social media has brought with it some tricky dynamics in both the job search and the workplace.  Always make sure to put your best foot forward online, and do what you can to protect your privacy.

The Doostang Team would like to add you as a friend!




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Doostang News October 18: How to Avoid an “Unhappy” Hour – Tips for the Office Happy Hour

Private Equity & Principal Investments Group Associate, New York, NY
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Who doesn’t like a good Happy Hour after a long day at the office?  It’s a wonderful chance to unwind, bond with coworkers, suck up to the boss, and drink on a Tuesday without feeling guilty.  But it can understandably lead to a few sticky situations, as do all instances that mix alcohol and coworkers.  To ensure that your innocent after hours mixer doesn’t devolve into an all-out bar brawl, make sure to follow these simple guidelines when partying with the office:

Eat Before You Go

Since Happy Hours take place late in the afternoon or early evening before dinner, chances are you’re going to be running on empty this far out from lunch.  So make sure to eat a snack at the office or grab something on the way to the bar so that you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.  No one wants to be the coworker who blows Happy Hour all over the bar or gets plastered after one drink.

Pace Yourself

While it may be tempting to show off your drinking skills to the office or go head-to-head with Rob from Accounts Payable on shots, try to contain your enthusiasm and pace yourself.  Happy Hour is not a contest, and if you make it out to be one, you may find yourself the loser when it comes to your job.

Don’t Set the Tone for Gossip

It’s no fun waking up the morning after Happy Hour and cringing at something you said about a fellow employee who you’re going to be seeing in an hour.  So avoid this situation altogether by sticking to lighthearted topics at the bar.  That means not engaging in even well-intentioned gossip while you’re still lucid, because this will inevitably transform into career-damaging slander a few more drinks in.

Treat the Bar Like the Office

While the whole point of Happy Hour is to get away from the office, take a page from the rulebook on office etiquette at the bar.  Happy Hour with your coworkers isn’t the same as a night of debauchery with your closest buddies.  Sure, you can still have fun; but bear in mind that your most important relationship with these people is your professional relationship, and that you should act accordingly.

Select a Designated Driver

To ensure that you arrive back at work safe and sound the next morning, nominate someone as a designated driver.  This is a great option for someone who wants to tag along but doesn’t want to feel the pressure to drink.  This person can also help mediate any rowdy coworkers or stop them in their tracks before they do any damage to their careers.


Happy Hours are a fun pastime meant to take away some of the stress from the daily grind.  So don’t do yourself a disservice by adding more stress to your day from acting like a fool around your office mates.  Just do a little planning ahead, act sensibly, and the rest will follow.

The Doostang Team advises you to drink responsibly… and have a great day!

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Doostang News September 27: Questions You Should be Asking in an Interview

Private Equity Internship, SF Bay Area, CA
Research Analyst, Chicago, IL
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Oftentimes we get caught up in worrying about the questions that a hiring manager is going to ask us during the interview, and overlook the questions that we should be asking them.  It’s important to lob the ball back into their court a bit, because it shows preparedness, interest in the job, and it helps you decide if the company is as good of a fit for you as you are for them.  Here are some questions to consider:

Questions About the Ideal Fit for the Role

You should try to feel out what sort of person they are looking for to fill the role you are applying to.  It’s helpful to ask questions like, “What was the last person who filled this position like?”, “What does the ideal employee look like?”, “What happened to the last person that had this position?”  It’s certainly okay to get a sense for what your predecessor was like, because those are the shoes you’re trying to fill.  The company will expect you to do just as good of a job with the things that the former employee did well; and that person’s weaknesses are areas you can try to improve upon.

Questions About the Work

It’s great to know what kind of work you will be doing and how you will be doing it, to figure out whether or not this will fit with your working style. Additionally, having a better understanding of the specific work you will be doing will give you a better idea of what you need to do to prepare for the job.  Ask, “What big projects are there that might be coming up?”, “Will I be working more independently or with a team of people?”, “What is your company’s management style?”

Questions About the Company

Since you will be a part of a larger whole once you join the company, it’s imperative to know that whole as best as you can, as early on as you can.  Example questions include, “What is the organization structure at the company?”, “What are the long term goals of the company and where do you see it going in 5 years?”, “What is the future of this industry like?”

Questions Related to Your Individual Experience at a Company

If you can, try to get a feel for office culture and the company’s attitude towards its employees.  This is a key determinant in how happy you will be at a corporation, and is important to know as soon as possible.  Some questions to ask are, “Is the office culture more laid-back or traditional?”, “Does the company provide guidance on cultivating career goals?”, “How often and in what manner will my work be evaluated?”

Remember, the interview isn’t just about a company finding out about who you are – it’s just as much about you finding out who they are.  The relationship between you and your employer should always remain mutually beneficial, and that starts in the interview!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News September 20: Personal Skills Crucial to the Working World

Trading Assistant, Chicago, IL
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Being successful in a work environment takes more than just the right job-specific skills and attitude towards the job.  There are also personal skills that you must develop in order to effectively handle the position and the people you work with.  These are skills that don’t come easily to many people at first, but something that everyone should keep in mind and polish up when necessary:

Public Speaking

According to some studies, the number one fear held by individuals is public speaking – it even beats out death!  Speaking in front of a room full of people is one of those things that even the most confident person can have difficulty with.  And so, even if you are a self-assured, charismatic person by nature, your charm and confidence may not translate easily into situations where you need to address your boss or coworkers in meetings or presentations.  If you don’t have much experience with public speaking, try taking a class, and if that’s too much, practice in front of friends or even in front of the mirror.  The more comfortable you become with getting up and listening to your own voice, the better you’ll be able to convey information to the people you work with – and win people over onto your side.

Diplomacy

Dealing with people in the workplace isn’t always easy, but it’s important to always do so with tact.  Losing your temper or making snide remarks are never good ways to approach situations, so its important that you learn to communicate with people diplomatically, whether this be someone that works for, above, or with you.  If you tend to get worked up over stressful situations, take a breather before you speak to your coworkers.  It’s important to treat everyone in a rational way and give them the respect they deserve.

Humility

There are a lot of egos circulating in any one office, and so in order to maintain a peaceful working environment, it’s important to keep yours in check.  This is especially true if you are just starting out at a company.  Fulfill the role that you were brought on to do – even if you sometimes don’t like it – and don’t expect everything to be handed to you.  No one gets to come in and take charge right away.  There are certain tasks that need to be done, and if they are given to you, it’s important to finish them out gracefully.

They don’t teach you everything in school, and certain skills don’t even come with experience unless you make it a point to practice them.  Bear in mind these important personal skills while you’re at work, and they should take you far.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News August 23: Some Pointers for Requesting Time Off

Investment Banking Associate , New York, NY
Consultant, Washington, DC
Venture Capital Associate, San Francisco, CA
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Analyst, Chicago, IL

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Requesting time off can feel a tad awkward.  Sure, you’re entitled to a life – but does your employer know that?  Many of us encounter frustration from managers or passive aggressiveness from coworkers when we make mention of our hiatus from the office.  So what’s the best way to slip out for a week or two unscathed?  Read on:

Give Plenty of Notice

While the standard notice for leaving a job is generally two weeks, it’s best to let your boss and coworkers know about an upcoming vacation as far ahead as you can.  Sooner really is better because it gives your peers enough time to digest the news and plan ahead for it.  Doing so will also make your own life easier, as more preparation beforehand will ensure a less messy aftermath when you return.  And really, what’s worse than returning from paradise to an office where all hell has broken loose?

Put Together a Plan

It will also make everyone’s life easier if you put together a plan, including a schedule that your coworkers can follow, important deadlines, and contact information – both for the people others will need to deal with on your behalf, and for you, should any emergencies arise.  The more thorough you are upfront, the fewer frantic calls and emails you’ll have to deal with when you’re miles away.

Don’t Jet During a Busy Time

While it may be tempting to flee the office during one of the busier periods, you’ll probably anger the people you work with if you do.  It’s more considerate to plan a vacation when you know things will be slow around the office, so that others can more easily take over for you.

Don’t Overlap

If possible, gauge when your coworkers might be taking time off, so that you can make sure not to jump ship at the same time.  Worse than missing one valuable employee is missing two – or more – so try to plan your time off strategically.  It may also be helpful to have these discussions with coworkers before you book your getaway, as some bosses may deny you time off if another employee will be gone at the same time.

It’s tempting to take off and leave as little information behind as possible when you’re trying to escape the office.  But some thoughtful planning beforehand will go much farther in ensuring a well-deserved, stress-free break!

Bon voyage!
The Doostang Team

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