I’ve been back at work for five weeks now and feel as if I’m stuck in the spin cycle of the washing machine. The organisation I work for is now lean and mean. It quadrupled its size in the last two months after winning a government contract. There are lots of new offices with minimalist fit outs in new locations, new staff, not enough staff and IT systems that just can’t keep up with the new demands.
The story of my laptop illustrates the chaos and frustration I have experienced since I’ve been back. On day one I asked for a laptop to be issued back to me. I need this to do my work as I was told there was no computer for me at the offices I was assigned to. Apparently this was quite an outrageous request in this new world of work. Luckily on my first day I was at a meeting next to the IT department and a physical presence can be a wonderful thing. They found a prehistoric machine that they begrudgingly said I could have. I couldn’t take it then but they would courier it out to me the next day. Two weeks later it finally arrived, alas without a power cord. It will be sent they said. A week later, no cord. Pop into head office and pick it up they said. I loaded the hefty laptop into my back pack and boarded the bus into town. One and a half hours later they finally located a power cord which did fit. Yahoo. I learnt not to celebrate prematurely. You won’t be able to print from it they said. Breath I said. Just remember to breath.
The new office fit outs look sleek and efficient, a bit like an Apple Store. But it comes with a loss of comfort for the staff. Did they forget that a predominantly female staff need a safe place to put handbags, or that if you wear a skirt in an open plan office its better to sit at a desk with a courtesy panel. Too bad if you have a medical condition that requires you to have anything at work to manage it, there is no space in this new work world for even the smallest of personal effects.
It made me wonder when did workplaces get so lean and mean. I spoke to a teacher who buys most of her own resources and said her large school only has IT support two days a week. My daughter, who works for a enormous and highly profitable retail organisation, has an office kitchen but not one cup or knife or plate is provided. Steven says that sometimes at his work the type of font used can be more important than the content of the report. He also has a stash of tea and coffee in his desk drawers, because they are not supplied for the employees of our State government. I bought most of my own stationery supplies because the battle to get what I need just felt too big. It’s all pretty mean really, makes people feel devalued and stops people doing their job well.
So I’m still dragging a suitcase behind me but now it’s my mobile office. We are still a couple on the run: me from site to site and Steven from meeting to meeting. Better start planning the next holiday I think. I’m in the mood to hear any other lean and mean work stories!