Friday, 12 June 2009

The small annoyances of starting a new job

I'm not really starting a new job - it's just a change of surroundings. After spending the last few years working at client sites, using the client's computers and phones and desks and things, I have now moved into the office of the company that I am actually supposed to be working for. It's an odd feeling, given that I have worked for them for a few years, but have never spent a day in the office.

I spent most of today in the office sorting out the basics.

To start with, I had to find a place to sit. Not as in a cubicle, as there are no cubicles, but as in a chair on which to place my bottom. I have been allocated a few feet of space at a long bench where half a dozen of us sit side by side, and there were six spots this morning and five chairs. Since the office is very much NOT a 9-5 establishment, when I got there, only about 20% of the staff had arrived for work. It was simply a matter of wandering the floor to pinch what appeared to be a spare chair. I hope I got that right. In the time I was there, no one came in and screamed about their missing chair.

Here's a funny thing. I have spent over 15 years working in organisations that place great store on who gets what sort of office etc etc. I watched enormous amounts of energy and political capital being expended on gaining another square foot of office space for this manager or that executive. I never really gave a toss - so long as I was paid, I was happy to work sitting on a milk crate in a store room.

These days, I am making more per hour than every manager I have ever worked for - in some cases, a lot more - and I find myself working at a few square feet of cheap melamine, with no view, no pot plants, no art work, no secretary, no naugahide lounge chairs, no bookshelves, no parking space; sitting cheek by jowl with others in the same boat. And I don't mind at all. I don't believe offices should be made to be too comfortable - when they get that way, the people inside them never leave. They never go out in the field and visit their underlings, or their customers; and they tarry at the office over trivial matters instead of going home to the wife and kids. Offices should be spartan and just pleasant enough to keep the health inspectors away - that way, people come in, tear through their work and then bugger off to somewhere nicer. When people prefer their office to the beach, it is time to rip out the comforts.

Wives - if your husbands are not coming home early enough, tell their boss that you want your husband evicted from his office and stuck in the pokiest, nastiest, smelliest, coldest cubicle that they have. (I say "wives" because I have had beers with many men over the years that admitted to delaying their departure from the office to avoid bathing and feeding the kids and putting them to bed).

Then there was the phone. We have VOIP phones, and mine was not working. It was sitting there with a little clock-like thing going around and around on its digital face, and that is not good. A phone should not have a little clock going around and around. I had to call IT to come up to have a look at that one. Turns out the bloke that installed the phone connected it to the wrong socket. But without a working phone, I had no network connection for my new laptop.

"New" laptop is a better description. The bloke next to me laughed when I pulled it out of its rather battered looking carry bag. He said, "When I started here 5 years ago, I was given the next model up from that one. I am on my third laptop, and my first one was a later model than what you've got. They've really dug around in the parts bin to find you a machine".

As I collected the laptop, I asked the help desk bloke to reset my network password. I had tried to logon remotely last night to read my email, and couldn't get in.

"Oh yeah", he said, "The bloke who built the laptop for you reset your password. It's on the sticky note on the side of the case".

I could have throttled him. I tried a dozen times to logon from home, and thought that I had stuffed up my password. Gee, thanks for telling me, guys.

The office has wireless, so I tried connecting to that.

No dice. It turns out that IT had not configured the authentication settings properly.

So I sat at a nearby vacant desk and plugged in there. The laptop came with the bare bones in terms of the software that I need, so I then tried to install the stuff I needed.

No dice their either. Turns out the system was pushing dozens of patches onto my laptop in the background as I sat there, and it wouldn't load the stuff I needed whilst that was happening. It took nearly an hour for Outlook to start up and get to the point where I could read an email.

So I thought I would browse the intranet, and see what company news I had been missing.

No dice. You need approval to do that, and although my access had been approved, it had not been actioned. I could get to the internet and read the newspaper, but not read the intranet. Weird. Nor could I access a single network folder that I needed to get into.

At least I managed to fill out a timesheet and print it.

By the end of the day, the help desk was well and truly sick of me.

I gave up and went home early. I had spent 6 hours getting to the point where I have a chair, a "laptop", a phone that works, access to email and bugger all else. Talk about a day flushed down the toilet.

The only good news is that I found a Japanese restaurant nearby that looks half descent. I couldn't do anything for an hour whilst the help desk fiddled with something, so I went for a walk around the area. A nearby cafe also makes very good coffee. All in all, next week can only get better.


Margo's Maid said...

Now you come to mention it BOAB, offices really are a pain in the arse - the commute, the office politics, rent...

These days, many office workers with the internet and a phone could easily work from home.

Anonymous said...

Having just spent a large portion of last week kitting up a brand spanking new laptop to get back up to operating speed, I can share your frustration and say that whether new or old, it is still a frustrating process (try installing things with only user permissions, so having to flick out to log in with admin permissions to install, flick back to load, flick back to license because it want to write in a permission protected part of the C: drive. Not so bad when you know that is the problem, it is the couple of hours figuring out that that was why it would not register, and no it wasn't a problem of the software online registration process..... much grrrr)


WV: anionaze - the naval gazing done when annoyed and waiting for the computer to reboot?