Happy Administrative Professionals Week! This annual salute to office staff was first observed 57 years ago, though it was called Secretaries' Day at the time. (Personal anecdote: years ago I worked in a small office where I had no clerical responsibilities; I purchased steel, I sold steel, I inspected steel as it was processed. But my boss gave me a Secretaries' Day card every year because (I'm not making this up) I was a "girl." Gender stereotypes aside, please enjoy a few office-related facts as you rightfully waste a few minutes surfing mental_floss on company time. It's your day, after all!

The Original Cube Farm

What item leads the field in office furniture sales? None other than the dreaded cubicle, to the tune of approximately $3 billion per year. Robert Propst introduced the original cubicle design in 1968. His idea was to provide workers with more desk space, as well as shelving at different levels, which gave them room to spread documents out and keep them in sight. (A paper filed away has only a one in 20 chance of being retrieved). The high-low surfaces also forced workers to move around, which promoted blood circulation. Propst's original design was only semi-enclosed, so that it afforded the worker "a social kind of privacy." Of course, Corporate America got hold of the idea and went in the opposite direction. Businesses decided the portable walls were the perfect way to cram more workers into smaller spaces.

Don't Eat Where You Sit

The American Dietetic Association reports that 75 percent of office workers eat lunch at their desks two or three times per week. If you are one of those desktop diners, you might want to consider a 2002 study by the University of Arizona. The average office work area contains 400 percent more bacteria than you'd find in a public restroom. The telephone harbors the most germs, followed by the computer keyboard and mouse. Germs also find cozy homes on microwave door handles, water fountain levers, and even on the surface of your desk. If you're going to answer the phone or futz with your computer while you're munching, it wouldn't hurt to keep some hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes within reach.

But Everybody Does It

Well, 58% of us do, anyway. (Taken office supplies home, that is.) According to a 2006 Harris Poll, over half of U.S. workers avail themselves of the office supply cabinet for personal use. The number one pilfered item is pens, followed by sticky notes. Scissors, staplers, computer paper and adhesive tape are also hot "five finger discount" items. These statistics don't take into account the number of personal copies made on corporate photocopiers. Interestingly enough, folks who'd admitted to lifting supplies from their employer in the poll adamantly insisted that they would never consider walking away with the same item from, say, their local Staples.

One of These Things Is Like All the Others

putty.jpgHave you ever noticed that virtually all the furnishings in the typical office are a non-descript sort of pale beige? Technically speaking, that color is called "putty." Many years ago (some sources date it as far back as the late 1960s), studies were done to see what color(s) were the least obtrusive to office employees. Putty was the clear winner. (Take a look around your own office; chances are the filing cabinets, copy machines and fax machines are all brothers in beigeness.) Manufacturers of computer monitors, CPUs and keyboards jumped on the putty bandwagon, because items of such color could collect a mountain of dust before it actually showed. They also pretty much blended in with any décor, so when the new boss changed the color scheme of the office, they didn't have to replace all the office equipment.

Watch Your Step

According to the National Safety Council, trips and falls are the most common workplace injury among office workers. In fact, office employees are twice as more likely to be injured in a fall than factory workers. (Approximately 11,000 office staffers were laid up for at least three days after a slip-and-trip accident in 2008.) The Council encourages workers to remain aware and report such things as broken floor tiles, worn spots in carpeting, and raised stair treads to management. The slick soles and high heels of dress-for-success-style footwear only add to the danger of tripping and slipping, so keep an eye out even if your employer won't!