OFFICES may seem sedate compared to the jungle. But there may be more similarities between work colleagues and wild animals than meets the eye. Author, scientist and satirist Richard Robinson talks to business editor Finn Scott-Delany about his office bestiary.
IN DAYS gone by travellers detailed animals both real and imagined in bestiaries.
Now we know a lot more about animals and that dragons do not exist, this can be done more accurately.
What we have also discovered is that animals are more like us than we could ever believe, and we are more like animals than we ever want to believe.
To go with his recently released book My Manager and Other Animals, Mr Robinson has drawn up a bestiary which takes a razor sharp look at these likenesses.
In the wilderness, the fox is nimble and ingenious, spreading around the globe.
Suffering a decline when forests were felled, it adapted to life in the city, exploiting mankind when it could.
In the office, Robinson paints the fox as small business looking for an opportunity to make a fast buck.
He said: “Their entrepreneurial bosses will be talented in several fields, with friends and contacts who have skills in many more.
“With their ears pricked up for sounds of change in the market and their noses to the wind, they sniff out opportunities and move swiftly to exploit them.
“Sometimes they break the law, but you won’t catch them – they will disappear as soon as they are uncovered.”
Another type are grasshoppers, which jump to escape predators in the wild and are always one jump ahead.
Explaining their human counterpart Mr Robinson said: “Grasshoppers in the office love new ideas, and will leap at them eagerly and show great focus on plans, graphs etc.
“But tension begins to build up in their minds almost immediately.
“After a few minutes they become agitated, and have to spring away to some new novelty.”
Back in the wild, dolphins, which originally evolved on land but retreated back into the sea, are in safe knowledge that life in the water is better, giving them a certain smugness.
What is more, they can use echolocation to ‘see’ in dark or murky waters, round corners and behind objects.
Mr Robinson added: “The smug look is found in offices on the faces of certain people.
“There are three types – the smile of profound wisdom, the grin of sublime ignorance and the happy smirk of someone who knows who to blame when things go wrong.”
What would you like to see in the bestiary?
Tweet @RichardScience or email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.