Thursday, February 17, 2011

Working Late


My Desk Lamp / Sony Mavica FD73 - Solarize Mode

I have said it before, and no doubt, will keep on saying it. Things change. Inevitably, sometimes without us realizing it, until the things in our memory no longer appear recognizable.

The most recent change I have noticed is ‘free time’. It is gone. I have the scrape, claw and horde for it. Free time to do anything or nothing, or just do what I want. It seems like a distance memory.

Case In Point: At my office we are short staffed. Pretty much always have been, and I am sure we always will be until I retire. The economic crisis (both state and federal) haven’t helped much, nor have the hiring freezes and the lack of training, not to mention the lack of proactive thinking and foresight. All of this makes Brucie busy, busy, busy putting out fires and solving problems for others that aren't well trained or lack basic logic skills.

Most of this busy-ness at work comes from not knowing what I will be doing on a daily basis. Every day when I walk into the office I have no clue what I will be doing. I know what is on my calendar regarding what I was hired to do. But most of those long range projects were placed there months ago and have simply been pushed back, time after time, to the present day. Maybe someday, I will get to those projects.

But adversity is the mother of invention. If I can’t complete the work I was hired to do because I am doing the work of others, I can find a work-around to fix the problem. The fix is to work late.

Originally, this worked great, I did what I could during the day, bobbing and weaving around the unexpected chaos that arises on a daily basis. Then when everyone started to trickle out the door around 4:30pm, I started working on the long range projects that I was hired to do in the peace and quiet of an empty state office building. Little insignificant projects, like developing exception reports to find bad data in our database and developing an electronic document managment system (EDMS) that could cut our operating expenses by a third. I got so much work done between 4:30pm and 7:30pm. It was amazing.

Until recently, when I realized something. I wasn’t alone anymore. More and more of my office-mates, aren’t going home at 4:30pm. In fact they aren’t going home till after 8pm. Most of these are the new hires, that have been dumped on from the get-go.

Which of course, means that if they can't figure something out at 7pm in the evening, who do they go to? They look to see if my office light is still guessed it, unpredictability and chaos have followed me to after hours.

I can’t even find any free time late at night, after work, in my office.