Smoke & Mirrors: The CEO 'works from home'

The comms chief unmasks the mischievous meddler who has been sending subversive emails around the company.

by Guy Browning
Last Updated: 25 Sep 2015


Every morning at Smokehouse we get the same three all-staff memos. The first is today's special in the canteen. The second is who has phoned in sick. I'm sure most of the organisation now assume one leads to the other. The third email is the guest Wi-Fi password. I don't know who dreams these up but I'm beginning to have my doubts about him. In the past few weeks we've had RedBanner52, GuidoFawkes69 and BourgeoisRoadkill15. Today we have a new all-staff email that's the most worrying yet and it's not the vegetarian lasagne. Our bewigged CEO Lynton Spivey has announced he's working from home. The last time he did that management consultants arrived and announced widespread redundancies and general bloodletting.


Lynton Spivey is still working from home. The guest password is ManagementP45. Whoever he is he's got a sense of humour. I checked with Barnsworth, our porky CFO, whether we'd been paying for consultants recently. He said that the last set of consultants had identified themselves as the biggest cost that needed to be cut. Naturally they're out of business now but they were beautiful while they lasted. I started to have a steady stream of board members popping in to ask me what the situation was with Spivey and whether they might be to blame. Mike Lamb, our CIO, was first through the door, admitting that a hackathon we'd sponsored had inadvertently compromised our entire LAN. I said he should relax as no one understood what he was talking about let alone the implications.


Wi-Fi code CapitalistApocalypse99. Canteen special chicken tagine. Spivey working from home. Our new HR director Brenda Wayzgoose came in looking rather sheepish. She looks naturally sheepish so she was virtually shearable when she sat down. Some time ago Spivey had approached her with an idea of internal job transfers to break down our silo mentality. The take-up was so poor she'd never reported back to Spivey. I remember I'd managed to offload one tiresome little scrote to IT and received a perfectly pleasant young lady in return who clearly had no place in IT. At the time I'd nearly suggested to Brenda that we could do a job swap so she could manage the hydra-headed communication juggernaut while I rolled out some entirely useless culture change programme. I didn't suggest it because I had a few outstanding employment tribunals I needed help with.


GuillotineCSuite53. Veal cutlets. Spivey at home. David Eldritch, our operations director, sidled into my office and said that he felt that he might be the cause of our CEO's absence. I nodded in a way that implied that it might indeed be the case and licked my mental lips to find out why he thought so. Eldritch then admitted that when he'd instituted a Six Sigma programme for operational efficiency he'd mistakenly bought a Seven Sigma programme thinking it was an upgrade whereas it was in fact a form of Pilates. I reassured him that no one had noticed and that operations might in fact be more agile for it. Later I told Oliver Quayle from my team to have lunch in the canteen and find out who was behind the Wi-Fi passwords.


Fillet of hake (why can't we have a normal fish?) is the special. Oliver Quayle is off sick. I got a call from none other than Lynton Spivey. He was actually in his office and asked me to pop in. He sat me down and asked me what was going on. He's been sitting in his office all week and no one had called, or popped in or arranged any meetings. I showed him the emails saying that he'd been working at home. Oliver Quayle was then put through from his deathbed. He told me that the Wi-Fi code person was the little scrote I'd exiled from PR who was also doing the sickness and working-from-home emails. Forget the means of production, he'd taken over the means of communication. That's how modern revolutions start. Quite proud of him really. Must get him back.

Guy Browning is the author of How to be Normal: A Guide for the Perplexed, published by Atlantic at £12.99. He can be contacted at

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