Quick Research combined with some quick calculations indicate that we spend about 40 hours working in our offices every week (read, Slogging away), which amounts to an average of 1900 hours per year, roughly amounting to a huge 85,000 hours over a lifetime, assuming we make it to the age of 60. The whole point of all this tedious math(which I absolutely suck at) is to ascertain the fact that since we spend a considerable amount of our waking hours in our workplaces, it makes sense to accept the work hours as an important phase of our lives. Although, the only shining star of our monotonous jobs (I envy them who DO NOT agree to the monotonous part) is the last day of the month, life seems easier when we accept things as they are. Now, that we have a somewhat mutual agreement on this, we can also agree to the fact that we meet (and will keep meeting), a multitude of people in our offices everyday. Also known as our esteemed Colleagues. Some are professional, few befriend while sometimes, a random 1% marry each other and take relations to next level. I work in a private IT organisation. Terms like code, test, deadlines are a daily cacophony. But, this is not the only thing it has on offer. I meet loads of people in my office everyday and every person has a story to say (read scream!).
Types of persona in an office scenario
- The 1% people Mood : Pre Monday Blues With about a thousand promises to turn over a new leaf, haunting vibes of yet another Monday and after sharing that grief with like minded Sapiens on multiple Watsap groups, I lull myself to sleep, I wish hard that God answers my prayers and stealthily turns back Monday into a Friday. But, Alas! The next date in the Calendar doesn’t budge. My Mondays start with a bad hangover (Just so you know, I don’t drink). Lifting up the body from bed needs superhuman efforts. A melancholic music keeps ringing in your ears. Part the window curtains and what do you see : A gloomy group of people clad in formals confirm, ‘Hell it is a Monday’. You manage to drag yourself to the office by 10 AM with the Monday blues, writ large, all over your face. And what do you see? The 1% is already there. Half their work already done. These are the ones who follow ‘Early to Bed, early to rise’ rant like its written on stone. Whenever I see them, a quiet thought creeps into the alley of my mind. Why? Why can’t you be a part of the herd? Why do you have to be different from the normal folks on a Monday? Can’t you see that we are, trying hard to be noticeable to the Management with a hope that our sad faces may lead to the declaration of Mondays as a shut down. But, with ever increasing percentages like you, chances of Sundays, getting demoted to a workday is more likely. *Sobs*
2. Lovers of the Printing machine Its Day : A lovely Friday evening.
My tickets for the newest Jack Reacher flick is booked and is about to start in an hour. I have a few prints to take before I reach the theater. I am sure to be there before time. Mental hi 5! I peek over cubicle partitions and notice two print seekers in a queue. I decide to join the queue. I am standing as a third and checking my phone for updates on the movie. Person in the first position is taking a long time. Must be a lot of documents, I wonder. Time ticks off and the queue refuses to shorten. I bend over to check. First person is still printing away a bunch of sheets. My Cruise movie is now half an hour away. I get impatient and query about the delay.The first person holds his prints in the left hand (He can make a book out of it now) and shows me his right palm, indicating me to have patience.Quiet thoughts creep into my mind again ‘ Who is he? He can be a part time business man.He may be taking prints for his entire building and charging for it.That’s a good business. Or He can also be one of those poor, wife tortured souls who is printing out her shopping lists. Well, you do get a lot of time to think on shopping expense management part while the printer prints out the lists.’ With such bizarre thoughts, I decide to quit the queue and exit the office. I reach the theater and find that my Cruise has already made his entry. I am really upset with the printer guy now.That’s when it hit me. He was definitely printing his wedding Cards. Well, saving up a little money here and there does no bad in Indian Marriages.
3. The Meeting Champ
Afternoons are designed to be sleepy. Sometimes, packed with meetings which induce more sleep. Heavy meals act as enablers. Most of the crowd is usually trying to keep their head straight in such meets. The only person, who is active and completely awake in noon meetings is usually the presenter. They come in 3 different flavors :
1. The over excited – He enters confidently, presents his content, explains with vigorous jabber in a breathless rhythm and then ends it with ‘Any questions?’. That’s when the sleepy round table audience wake up and wonder which planet they are in. Well, if I am one of them, the first thought that comes to my mind is ‘ Who are you? Arnab Goswamy? Duh!’
2. The self declared champ – He enters, looks around the room at his audience to check if they are awake. He starts off his content slowly, and keeps checking if the audience has dozed off. To confirm, he keeps asking if they have any questions for a particular subtopic, thus disrupting the sequence of day dream some people have already treadled onto. One line that I absolutely despise is ‘ Let’s make this session interactive.’ . This is the most favorite line of this kind of the meeting champs. I do not understand something about this kind. Was he a born presenter? If he had also gone through our phase of being an audience first, can’t he understand the mutual protocol and just shut up?
3. The Sympathy evoking kind – This kind is my favorite. He starts off with good explanation, neat content, asks questions but answers himself understanding the situation perfectly. Totally lost in their day dreams, audience nod in beautifully syncing with rhythm. But when he shoots ‘ Any questions?’ in the end and looks at blank faces around, he understands what he is dealing with. I am sympathetic to this particular kind. He probably spent his last weekend preparing for this presentation, rehearsing the questions and communication and going through the content 50 times over and again. But What does he get? A room full of audiences who seem stoned. Some with dazed, unblinking eyes and rest with sleepy eyes, desperately searching for a cot to jump in.
4. The female population
Do you know every office has a secondary meeting room, which is more important than the actual, labeled meeting rooms? One hot place which has been the oldest abode of the gossipmonger crowd is the restroom ( Not sure about the Men’s restroom though. Never really got a chance.) All the girl gossip and the real thoughts about team managers and leads emit from the girls restroom. After all, How can a girl just complete mundane tasks like dabbing foundation and retouching lipsticks without doing anything else to keep the activity, company? So, we gossip. About the office, it’s staff, the team, the manager, the team lead, the new hot guy we saw in the cafe this morning, the awful taste of the tea in the office tea vending machine or just the count of acne on our faces. It may also give you insights of how observant we are, if you know that we also gossip about stuff like how may days has a girl in the nearby team repeated the same pants this week. A morning lecture by a certain MIL may render a few abuses from a frustrated newly wed while coos and giggles from a phone glued girl ( ones who keep calling their boyfriends every half hour for the status updates) may initiate more gossips about her in another of the girl group. Well, one of the few reasons which keeps the office life going.
5. An Official call’s lost crowd
Calls with onshore teams are an intrinsic part of any IT project. Since mostly project clients are based abroad, daily calls help them keep updated about work for which they pay us. Daily calls usually may last half an hour to one, depending on the traffic of work being done. Once a team member has shared information about what he did the previous day, he/she slips into self induced oblivion. If the dreamer’s luck has gone for a toss that day, then his name may come up in the call again. When he accidentally catches his name being called out, then with a panic, he goes ” Sorry, can you please repeat that?”. A desperate attempt to miraculously grasp the context and blabber an answer back to him. And people say we work in a safe environment! Irony, it is.
6. The champ
The formula for success of any project does not lie on the fragile shoulders of the team members. It actually forms in the mind of that one person who writes the code for the development of a project. This is the person who will show green at all times of a day on the office communicator. When I stifle my yawns , curse my luck and work late nights to finish before deadline, a cheerful hi from Mr. Pascal no. Nth is really irritating. Better things to do at 1 Am than meddle with Java methods and data types. Duh! What do the other team members do then? Well, copy and paste are two biblical words in our industry. While this person knows about the oldest technology, he can also take a session on the latest one in market. He is the guy clad in harry potter glasses who is always sure of bagging the top ranks in the yearly appraisal. Many a time, I glance at this champ and wonder Which programming language does his wife talk to him in? Java? C++? I think his wife welcomes him with a “hello world” everyday and probably hands him a first edition of Let Us C every year on his birthday? God bless!
7. The 99%
We arrive at office with ease. Post a quick look at mails, the like minded crowd calls out the need for coffee. This is the time when we share world news. From on-site visitors to the recently promoted selected few, we share our reactions and views. This is a really important phase, since offices do not encourage a broadcast of office news on specific channels on the television. We return to our cubicles, all refreshed. There may be a sudden surge of work on a few days. However, this is not applicable on the days of Amazon and Flipkart sales. Since sale is for a limited period, unlike work, we tend to check out the limited editions by dedicating one tab on browser to the e-commerce websites. Lunch group sends notification on the office communicator at 12 PM. With the tiffin and sharing of food, goes non stop gossip about the work and how everyone thinks, it could have been done in a better way. Hashtag trending! The gaiety continues for an hour and then a walk in the campus finds its way in the following hour. When we return to work after lunch, it’s obvious to feel sleepy. India is mostly hot , you see. So after stifling a number of yawns, we gather for a mini tea break. The paraphernalia continues and our eyes open when the clock screams 4 PM. When the first batch of colleagues start leaving for their buses, we start our work. So, evenings usually witness most of the people leaving the office and the other half deeply engrossed in work. I fall in the second category. Late at night, we finish our work, run out of the office and rush home. My take on this is very positive. Since evenings are the calmest part of a day, it’s always safe to take this way of work.
These are not the only ones, I spot in my workplace. There are many others of various characters, shades and shapes. Shapes tend to get odd at times and shades dimmer. But, flavors these characters infuse is what makes a workplace lively. You talk, work, struggle but keep going and I guess, that’s all that matters in life.