End of Road for Office Tissue Bandits – Thanks to the Chinese

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Toilet tissue dispenser with facial recognition technology
Toilet tissue dispenser with facial recognition technology
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While the Diversity theme implores that we learn to be accommodative at the workplace and be tolerant of each other’s diverse views and creeds, certainly it does not embody the tolerance of vices.

Office or rather workplace environments experience many things courtesy of the social animal christened employees. While some experiences may be funny, others are downright bizarre and embarrassing.

Be it in the public or private sector, certain office colleagues have developed or rather extended uncouth habits into the workplace. The habit in question is embarrassing to the extent that the office space administrators or facility heads choose to ignore yet deep within they know some mischievous character (s) is having an unwanted field day.

Ever been to an office where the cleaning team takes time to replace tissue papers in the washrooms every time they run out only for you to get there as the third or fourth occupant and find the replaced tissue missing save for the dangling roller.

Now you get me! I’m talking about the office tissue bandits. They sit and wait, then watch keenly as the cleaning team proceeds with replenishing the supplies. Then when the restrooms are well supplied, they strategically wait for one or two individuals to make a move to the washroom areas (basically assuming they are going for a long call). This wait is a decoy, a real smokescreen. To mislead any investigative mind on who could have terrorised the washroom supplies

Once they feel the ground is ready, they pounce. Walking majestically into the washroom as though to answer the call of nature, but alas!! That is not the goal. They head for the tissue rolls.

For the lady bandit, since she may be carrying her nice bag into the washroom, then all the contents are stuffed in there and she is good to go. Walking out majestically feeling enriched with the new loot. For the dude bandit, the contents are rolled and folded carefully and God knows where they are safely hidden, concealing any strange growth like signs on the sides of their attire.

They leave few rolls that can’t be used or simply take everything leaving the roller hanging on the tissue holder begging for more replenishing.

Well this may sound funny but it is real and very irritating. Imagine that you could be having a colleague whose mission in the office every single day is not to advance the cause of the business but rather to pick tissue papers for the restroom cubicles and head homewards with them.

Unfortunately this is a global phenomenon and the Chinese nation has not been spared either.

Things in China workplaces and public squares got so worse that it precipitated some innovative minds to develop a solution to the tissue banditry menace.

If you are an office space and facility administrator worry no more about the tissue paper kleptomaniacs. Just start working on a your influencing skills and ability since all you will need to do is convince the occupant of the corner office to approve a budget for importing some new toilet paper dispensers that utilize facial recognition technology to be installed in your washroom cubicles.

How does it work?
Anyone utilizing the bathroom services will be warmly welcome by the high definition camera laden dispenser with a robotic voice telling them “Welcome! Please stand in the marked recognition zone”.

Within three seconds of complying, the staff will watch their faces pop up on a blinking blue screen mounted to the wall. Then the machine will dispense their individual allotment of 60 cm (23 inches) of toilet paper to use within that visit.

If the same individual attempts to collect more bathroom tissue within nine minutes, he or she will be met with a polite rejection: “Please try again later.” Since the device’s technology remembers recent faces, and if the same a person reappears within a certain period, it refuses to activate the automatic roller.

Possible challenges
Like any other technology, the tissue bandit buster has its fair share of challenges which the office administrators will have to think of how to address them.

The Chinese have complained that the dispensed tissues are too short. I believe re-calibration of the roller element might be necessary as you customize the same to meet your office needs.

The machines have also been touted as being slow. They take 30 seconds to dispense the paper. You may need to find out if the dispensing duration can be shortened once the staff facial features have been identified. This will be key since you will have genuine cases of employees with running stomachs who will urgently require toilet paper. Alternatively you could do with it as it is and ask your office colleagues to learn some patience in the washroom.

If you need more paper, let’s hope you’re not in a rush. The computer won’t dispense a second round of paper to the same person for nine — potentially excruciating — minutes. This might be a challenge but potential its core mandate and strong point.

Besides the Standard Gauge railway technology, seem the Chinese will soon help sort the tissue banditry phenomena in our Kenyan workplaces as well.

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Stephen Ogolla is a HR Consultant (with IHRM professional membership) He has a forte in Talent Management and Capacity development. He is also a youth life mentor, motivational speaker and corporate MC. He has worked with a leading global professional services firm in Office administration & Procurement, Learning & Education and Human Resource Management Email: Stephen.ogolla@gmail.com