Friday, February 7, 2014

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today: Part I: David's Saga: Episode 1: "Open" Workspaces

This begins Days of Our Work Lives, a continuing saga.

It tells the story of computer geek David, his music teacher wife Susan, and their active son Adam. It also embeds what believe are fresh and important lessons about career, relationships, and money.
I hope it's more enjoyable and helpful than if I presented these ideas in yet more how-to articles and public policy essays.

PART I: David's Saga

 "Open" Workspaces

As usual, David awoke grateful: grateful that he's well and that he has a decent job.

Although he works very full-time, he dutifully helps his wife Susan get their seven-year-old son Adam ready for school. Today, David tried to get Adam to take his own cereal but Adam likes being served and so threw a fit.  

David was grateful to finally escape into his car--He even preferred sitting in gridlock to his home's morning madness. But gridlock raises his blood pressure as much as does dealing with Adam. He's angry not at the drivers but "at the damn transportation planners for refusing to build more freeways so--a la slowly ratcheted-up torture--we're forced out of our cars and into the much more time-consuming and sardined mass transit." David would rather sit in gridlock in the sanctuary of his car.

He arrived at the double-glass doors of UnderSports, Inc. "It's showtime," he reminded himself.  He pasted his corporate-acceptable smile and made corporate-acceptable greetings to coworkers as he strode to his cube. In Corporate America, especially if you're 40+, you may not trudge; you must stride. But not too fast--that would make you seem insufficiently controlled, just a moderate stride, with good posture: chin up, back straight, shoulders back, chest out. As Cosmopolitan founder Helen Gurley Brown said, "After 40, it all comes down to posture."

An email from HR indicated it might finally listen to employees' pleas to add high walls to the cubes. David thought, "What a stupid idea: "open space workplaces." Yeah, it lets us collaborate, if listening to people blab about their kids or March Madness is the sort of collaboration you want. But you can't think, let alone get work done." 

But it's been six months since HR sent that memo and, no surprise, still no walls. "I guess they're too busy revamping the corporate mission statement. After all, it's hard to justify keeping "People are our most important product," when they keep announcing layoffs to reduce headcount, oops, 'rightsizing the organization.'"

No sooner did David's butt hit his chair when a colleague came in: "The Big Enchilada wants to see us in five."

"That can't be good. Will I still have a job?"

The next episode is HERE.

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