Eydie Eskridge, an office assistant in Seattle, says the definition of "multitasking," at least for support staff, has changed. "Nowadays, employers expect you...

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Eydie Eskridge, an office assistant in Seattle, says the definition of “multitasking,” at least for support staff, has changed.


“Nowadays, employers expect you to do the tasks all at once — instead of ‘in a momentum of shifting from one to the other and back and forth’ ” said Eskridge, an office assistant who works for temporary agencies but is looking for a full-time job. “Today, you need to do the tasks literally all at the same moment. Our jobs always have had more than one task in their job descriptions, but this is different: Doing everything at once.” The assistant observes: “This is not an intelligent working style.”


Multiple e-mail problems: When employers monitor e-mails sent on company computers, can they also check out your e-mails sent via your personal Web-based accounts?


That’s a question that concerns many employees who rely on their workstation PCs to keep in touch with friends and family — and, sometimes, to job hunt.


Jeremy Nulik, an assistant account executive in St. Louis, has some answers from a colleague in the know.


“Everything we type can be monitored, according to my source,” said Nulik. “There are … programs that can record every single keystroke — and they’ve been available [to employers] for years.”


Because of these “key logger” programs, some workers have been fired after using their office computers to job hunt. … Employees who send intra-office e-mails whose content they wouldn’t want their employers to know about are very naive.”


The account executive sent me this information by e-mail but said, in order not to jeopardize anyone’s career, he could also transmit it by “a telegram or a message in a bottle. … “


Many favorites: Employees often complain that the boss has favorites — and they’re not among them. They say they fear their progress will be hampered by not being part of the inner circle.


Now one expert has some advice on how to bridge the gap if you can’t become one of the elite: Know the favorites in your organization and cultivate them. In other words, suck up to the anointed persons in other departments.


Richard Templar, author of “The Rules of Work: The unspoken truth about getting ahead in business” (Pearson/Prentice Hall, $16.95) does not advise playing up to the boss.


He eschews “fawning, obsequiousness, toadying, sliming or swarming” the boss.


Instead, he suggests “spotting the favorites in other departments. … Once spotted, make friends of them. This way, you will know what is going on, be with the in crowd … and have joined the elite.”


But Templar adds this caution: “If, on the other hand, you really disapprove of favoritism, do none of this.”


E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.