Twisted First Day Work Thoughts

Monday 1st September – first day back at work for many French people. Some first day back thoughts – they make sense to me. Hope you can make some sense.

First day back at work. Fumbling through the darkest recesses of my bag for my office keys. Not in the bag. Not in my pockets. Yes, I’ve left them in the car. Erm, where are my car keys? Where did I park my car? Premature Alzheimer’s? Short-term memory loss. I eventually find my car and my keys, that have slipped out of my pocket and have slipped down the side of the driver’s seat in the car – Or did I actually put them there for safekeeping?

I unlock the office. The office is still there, in the general state of disorder that I left it six weeks ago. I still have an office. I presume I still have a job. After the long summer break, I still exist – well you hear so many «horror» stories about those who return to work and return to nothing, save a lap top, and a promise from their boss of a Bright Flexible Future (BFF) within the company.

I remember a long time ago in one « organisation » I worked for used the BFF as standard practice to get rid of people. The scenario was always the same. Come late August there would be a sudden promotion (hooray) followed by a posting to Paris with a promise of a BFF. So, the newly promoted employee arrives, still having found nowhere to live in Paris. He is given a laptop, a ton of work, but no office, which doesn’t matter much, because our new flexible friend is going to be on the road all the time, working out of his car or crappy hotel rooms and … « by the way can you be on the other side of the world for Monday morning? » Of course you can if you travel through the weekend. So, you shut up and put up and then crack up and then leave or die young. A great way to get rid of someone in his or her early fifties.

So, back in my disorganised office – WELL let’s talk about dirty desking. I frankly don’t trust someone with a clean desk.

Clean desk means;

The person isn’t working
The person has no work

Person not working. Meaning that they are waiting to do their work, or that the work has already been done, meaning that the person doesn’t have enough work or they are just too darn good at what they do and can do it quickly OR, what they do is well below their capacities and they should be in a post with more work and more responsibility.

The person has no work. Meaning that they have finished working OR they genuinely have no work because they are incompetent.

Those who are waiting to do their work – the kind of person who will sit round doing nothing all day, then work long into the night when everyone has gone home, just so the boss can see how hard they work. « Oh, I stayed until midnight last night … »

Of course, no one will just sit and do nothing all day. Those who are conspicuous late workers will first have spent most of the day, rushing round everyone else’s’ office, clutching a sheath of papers and complaining about just how much work they have to do and how late they have to stay to do it. This though, isn’t smart. Rush round for sure, but don’t complain about how much you have to do, but rather tell colleagues you’ve just popped in to say hello – we all like a social call, a handshake, a good morning smile –

« Oh, would you like a coffee? » – « No thanks. I’ve got to rush » (rain check time)

You get the reputation of a friendly and even dynamic colleague, always on the move, but always a few minutes to say hello and have a quick chat. As for those who complain … well they just get the reputation of the miserable bastard who does nothing but complain. And were I the boss of such an employee, well I might send him or her on one of those numerous «Mickey Mouse » training courses for a spot of « remotivation » or I might just give the aforementioned employee the chance to leave – if you spend your life complaining, you are obviously overworked and unhappy and might just be happier somewhere else.

Back at the dirty desk – well I am not suggesting that you leave your desk looking like your five year old has just decided to rustle you up a gourmet meal or redecorate the living room – I am talking about a programmed, reasoned and reasonable mess. Leave enough out on the desk to show that there is some kind of activity going on. Leave important looking magazines, reports and dossiers in full view and make sure that you have just enough (but not too many) sticky « Post It » notes, stuck in strategic places. Always best to leave out « To Do » notes, but also enough « Done » notes. Other good advice – Pencil in a few meetings in your desk diary and leave it open for all to see. If there is enough important looking mess, those who pass your desk will get the impression that you are always working. (And you probably are).

Those with clean desks are generally highly organised and efficient – they get work done quicker than they should – these people are scary. Yes it is good to be organised, but never work too quickly. Make your work last. Even if you have very little to do, make it last. Spread the work thinly throughout the day. Procrastinate a little. No one likes a highly organised colleague who works to fast.

Back 2 work and …

First mistake of the day – switch on the computer. At the best of times my office computer takes half a day to rev up, boot up, wake and just generally do shit, but the first day back after the summer. Well, computers are just like us. How would you feel if you suddenly had to perform technical wonders and you hadn’t been switched on for six weeks? Leave the computer time to « settle in » and go for one of those long « social walks » – meaning you walk round all the various offices and say hello to everyone – and don’t carry a bogus file with you so that you look important or just busy, you are genuinely there to say « Hello »

Finally my computer has woken up and has loaded my e-mails – all the crap that people have sent me whilst I was on holiday. Come to think of it, my workplace

HANG ON – my place of work has been closed for four weeks. Who has been sending me mails? I will hasten to add that most of the rest of France has also been closed down for the last month YES TRUE, but in every work place there is a skeleton staff. Those childless «stayers behind» who «man» (or even «woman») the workplace, when all the rest of us are on holiday. By “the rest of us” – I mean those poor bastards who have families and kids and have to take their holidays during the school holidays and have to pay school holiday rates for their place in the sun. NOT those who have no kids or whose offspring have flown the nest and therefore don’t mind working through the holidays – (and by work I mean answering the phone to tell everyone the place is closed.) AND who can take their holidays out-of-season far cheaper than the rest of us AND those who bugger off on holiday as soon as the rest of us get back. THOSE people who send « urgent » e-mails knowing full well that you are away, and when you finally et back you cannot attend to the issue addressed in the e-mail because the person who sent it is on holiday AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!

Well, it’s just the first day back. Another 88 days like these and it will be CHRISTMAS