The psychology of an “easy button” vending machine in the workplace

The psychology of an “easy button” vending machine in the workplace



I wake up in the morning feeling like singing a ditty about a girl with a little too much to do and not enough time. I wake up in the morning feeling like singing a ditty about a girl who wants to do it all. I wake up in the morning wanting to sing a ditty about a girl who has 100 songs running in her head.  Here I am, looking about the room packing up my luggage one more time. About to hit the proverbial road to go talk about what it is like to be a psychologist off the beaten path.  One word: Harried. One phrase: Jill of all Trades.



It is 9:10am and I have had three cups of coffee and one Coke Zero.  Checked into my flight at home, ran some more regression analyses, sent out 20 emails and tightly hugged my son goodbye. I think I got a promise from him to call me everyday while I am gone. However, I do realize he is five years old and his little brain is focused on Minecraft and zombies. I am saving a ton of documents and datasets onto my computer for the six hour flight out west.  Boy, do I not like traveling out west.  Yeah. I wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy… Wrong song.



As I look at the mess on my floor, deciding what do bring and what of the 100 things I need to do can I realistically focus on, I wish there was truly an easy button.   I know very well there are no “easy buttons” in life. As a psychologist, I understand the need to not make such wishes and focus on what is realistic and chunking tasks.  But a girl can dream, right?



Of course, many will note that if things are easy it is not worth it. Half of the fun is the journey and the process. Have you ever seen the movie “Click”?  It’s an Adam Sandler movie, so you might not have. Understandably so. The movie is about him using a remote control to fast-forward through life.  I myself fast-forwarded through it. Although, it had some amusing moments.  The (trite) moral of the story, as you can imagine, is that by fast-forwarding through life you miss the key moments of joy and pain that lead to a greater lived experience.  Don’t know about you, I certainly could fast-forward through my dentists visits, my six-hour long flight out west, and a two-day required CDC-grantee  meeting (just saying).



Surely, however, it would be nice if in my office space besides having a coffee maker I could have a “vending machine” type of entity where after an employee, network partner or random caller left my office I could hit an easy button and be done.  As communication issues are often one of the top problems in a workplace there could be a button for “translation.”  Not translation in the sense that we translate from English into Spanish or vice-versa. I mean translation in the sense that when an employee says “he nodded yes when I asked if it could be done on time” the translation device would spit out for the person “he nodded yes that it could be done in theory just not by him”.


There could also be an easy-button for “preparation.”  How many times have you attended a meeting where not everyone came prepared to the meeting. You could hit the button and all of a sudden they would have done their due diligence and brought materials to the meeting. This button should just be allowed to be used once for any individual. The button should serve to demonstrate to them the value of preparedness.  Speaking of meetings and preparedness, I would love an easy button for “goals”. Ask and answer yourself this: how many meetings have you attended in the last month alone during which you thought to yourself “what is this meeting about?’  This easy button would provide goals for a meeting and possibly help keep it on time as well.



If you work in a small office space you know that there are people that are loud-talkers. Hit an easy button that lowers people’s volumes.  We then wouldn’t all have to wear headphones that mess up our nicely done hair. Win-win.



A number one office-complaint during these tough recession days (where productivity is up) is that people do not have enough resources for the job they are supposed to do. How about an easy button for resources?  You hit the button and that one time you get the key resource you need. Which very well may be a clone.


There are many times when an employee just needs a hug. What if you are naturally not a hugger? Hit the easy button and the hug you provide will feel like you are enjoying a nice cup of strawberry gelato from near the Spanish Steps in Rome.


Ah, to dream of easy buttons. I must snap out of it and finish packing and getting my laptop ready to work on the plane.



What would your easy button do?

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