Friday, 9 November 2007

Personal grooming

Getting up early to perfect your look before work is an evil yet incredibly necessary chore. Various men and women consulted confirmed that if they didn’t have to partake in any personal grooming whatsoever they could have at least an extra 30minutes in bed, sometimes even an hour*. In order to look the professional part people sacrifice sleep… maybe this is a poor reflection on the values of society today, but it is the way it goes.

However there is always an exception to the rule.

Now I can understand coming in the office with drying hair, or arriving early to re-apply makeup. Heavens in my office we even have a shower available for all. Likewise most people if they needed a ‘little touch up’ shall we say, would discreetly pop to these facilities.

Again there is an exception to that rule to.

Cutting to the chase, this week saw one of my colleagues take his electric shaver out of his bag and begin a quick ‘touch up’ (?) at his desk while in mid conversation with both my manager and a senior member of the department. The word surprise does not even come close to what the rest of us felt!. Carrying on with the conversation at the same time. Shows a sign of being comfortable in ones surroundings at least!

Now again, is it just me or….

And I thought I was random.

*Note men and women consulted through unofficial means, probably biased after the above incident.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Extreme measures

What strikes me as particularly odd is the use of laptops during ones commute – you are not at work yet. Particularly when used on the tube.

The Underground during commuting time is, to put it mildly, horrific. Any sane human being would not subject themselves to such battery farming and find an alternative way to work, or ideally work somewhere outside of London. Me being me I seek none of these things.

Being a small person, space is still of a premium and spending a (short) tube journey directly staring at some commuters rear is really not uncommon, nor is being squashed up against the windows in a ‘Scream’ style. In this hostile environment the aim is to scarper as quickly as you can when you reach your destination. There is quite literally so little room to breath, let alone commence work.

However this is what I witnessed today. Same conditions. A young man hops on – same stop as me - finds a sought after space where he can lean against something (rather than someone) and before the tube doors shut he has his laptop out of its case and turned on. This caused much bumping and shuffling to accommodate this new ‘passenger’, but he ho.

Let’s just remind ourselves that this is underground, so therefore if phone signals are bad, than what must wireless be like? So we arrive at the next stop – the one I get off at - and Laptop man, closes laptop and puts in his case (much more shuffling for all) and gets off the tube. One stop later. Maximum of 5 minutes on the tube. I am quite surprised that he did not walk with it still open and on in front of him as he got off.

Surely work cannot be this pressing to make such time ‘count’? Now I know I have not maybe developed such a ‘pressing’ need for information just yet, but is this not working too hard? Or have I just missed the point and not established what being a ‘professional’ is truly about after all?

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Primary School

So I want to work with children. I applied to various jobs in such related sectors and have somehow found myself in an office setting where there not even a mere whiff of an under 21 year old. I really needn’t have worried. The dynamics and spontaneity that such children’s involvement demands can also, it seems, be applied to the workplace. Not only are timetables pinned up on various walls and fire alarms tested, but the behaviours of the fellow workforce can be likened to that seen by children at school. Allow me to draw on the key comparisons:

§ Personal items of stationary go missing, presumably borrowed – sometimes with permission, never to return. ‘Novel’ and ‘funky’ pieces of stationary are most at risk, as well as those that can achieve a function beyond that of a pencil, namely scissors.
§ Morning, lunch and afternoon breaks are essential.
§ Likewise is a daily dose of milk – only this time things have advanced a little with the addition of caffeine in such little plastic cups. Failure to have a break results in stressed, irritable and distracted individuals.
§ Packed lunches are the norm, complete with abandoning of any items which contain nutritional value after 12pm.
§ Blame is flows like water. It is never your fault/ responsibility. Blame can be passed around like a parcel, from friend to friend or department to department.
§ Bribery works.
§ Failure for something to work – mainly technical – results in much shouting, screaming and crying.
§ You live by the clock.
§ You are encouraged to partake in various fitness drives and after school, sorry work, clubs.
§ You can’t wait for work to end but when it does you realise that there is not much else to do because you have secretly or overtly been emailing /sitting next to friends all day, corresponding on the sly.
§ There is a dress code. Most individuals try to bend and customise this as much as they can.
§ Anything that gets you out of the classroom / office is a welcome treat.
§ At any given time at least one individual has a cold.

I was worried when entering such a professional setting that I would struggle to appear grown up and mature – a true professional – but now I realise am more qualified than I thought…I was, after all, a child once too.

Monday, 29 October 2007

And thus it begins...

I have found myself in the land of professionals. A city girl, a commuter, an office worker - complete with my own desk and extension number (business card production on standby). Anyone who vaguely knows me knows this is a recipe for mayhem, no maybe that is too tame, chaos possibly?

Every day is an amusing and eye opening experience for me. Observations and reflections on the highs and lows of human nature take up most of my day (or is that called day dreaming) and despite feeling like a fish out of water, tied (I hasten to add not literally) to a little cove of office space, I remain fascinated with this lifestyle.

I am probably as much a part of this 'ecosystem' as much as the next fellow, making it all the more interesting and in most cases just plain amusing.

Therefore, as suggested to a friend whilst recalling some of these observations I have decided to provide an account of some of the most random and peculiar observations I have and continue to make.

Welcome to 'Pieces of Professionalism' - designed to keep you informed as much as it is to keep me from being swallowed up by working '9-5' - to stay suitably random.