How's work been?

Why is it that on days where one person has an "urgent" item that disrupts my regular workflow everyone has urgent or strange items come in? Half of these drop everything and do it now things I got make no difference if I did it immediately or the next day. On the egregious ones where I email back and give reasons as to why this should wait until next month for billing/correct number reasons I just get short replies that it is a good point or "ok to do that".

I am wondering if the pandemic work at home has skewed some people's sense of who is working on what. I know it has messed with sense of time for most people.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Unless we're interviewing a job candidate, people at my office keep their cameras off.

Same. There was some talk back in April 2020 about good WFH practices. And one of them suggested camera on meetings at least once a day. But no one in my team scrum wanted to do that so we don't. Our VP will turn his screen on for all hands meetings once a month and of course executive team for monthly status meetings but those are listen only for the rest of us.

So yeah, no faces.

I did turn camera on my first meeting back from paternity leave to show my team the baby. Think that's the only time it's been on in 2021.

Roo wrote:
Enix wrote:

Does anyone else, when they're on a Zoom meeting, cover their screen so they don't have to see the faces of their coworkers? Or is it just me?

There are a number of articles about Zoom fatigue that describe having to have that much eye contact, with that many people, at that perceived distance, is likely putting us in fight or flight mode. For three hours. (my last big Zoom meeting was 3 hours).

So yeah, turn off the screen, or cover it. You're doing it right. :)

A flip side of this 100% remote stuff is that I don't have access to my normal ways of dealing with fight/flight. I rely a lot on non-verbal queues to manage this:
- How I sit to put people at ease (or not)
- Using body queues to let folks know I'm highly interested in what they're saying (or not)
- Using tone of voice and body expression to influence the shape/tenor of the conversation (push it to escalate/de-escalate to resolve the business issue)

Not having access to this for the last 14mo has been a killer. For me.

And now you get a taste of what it’s like for those of us who have NEVER been able to rely on body/facial cues.

I’ll have my camera on if I’m the one heading the meeting (which isn’t often), but it’s off the rest of the time. Especially since “rest of the time” has been super big meetings with hundreds of people (meetings with our patient file system provider) or seminars/world congresses also with hundreds of people. No one needs to see my mug for those and I get to keep working while listening. Win, win!

When I am running a meeting, I will have the camera on all the time.

Otherwise, it is only on when I am speaking.

Roo wrote:
Enix wrote:

Does anyone else, when they're on a Zoom meeting, cover their screen so they don't have to see the faces of their coworkers? Or is it just me?

There are a number of articles about Zoom fatigue that describe having to have that much eye contact, with that many people, at that perceived distance, is likely putting us in fight or flight mode. For three hours. (my last big Zoom meeting was 3 hours).

So yeah, turn off the screen, or cover it. You're doing it right. :)

I switch zoom to only show who is talking. I run my camera but am one of the few that do. I generally have a hard time understanding people if I can't see their mouths while they are talking, especially if they have an accent or their mic quality sucks. So 90% of zoom meetings I am zoned out anyway since I can't understand what people are saying.

Serengeti wrote:

Absolutely. I also refuse to use the camera on my company laptop, and when people ask why, I show them this picture of how my laptop is placed, which makes it impossible to use the built-in camera.

Well, it is still possible, but the results are probably NSFW.

I do also have the opposite problem while teaching. A key part of classroom management is seeing their faces, and whether they are: bored, amused, interested, lost, reacting, not reacting, etc.
When I was looking at 9 grey boxes in MS Teams, I felt like I was on some horrible radio show from some weird nightmare. I started asking to have kids take turns with at least 3 of them on camera at any given time so that I could pace the class. In a physical classroom I like to do lots of student-centered learning (and not just lecture at them), but finding all of the ways to do this remotely...not a fun learning curve.
Eventually MS Teams created "Breakout Rooms" which helped a lot, as I could put them in groups of 3-4, where they'd be much more willing to talk, and I could go from room to room, to see what's going on and help and such.
Now, my students are at the school in masks, and I am at home. And sometimes, it's taken 25 minutes for them to hook up a laptop, connect this to the projector, and make it so you can hear me. I've taught lessons where they couldn't hear me, so I was typing at them, and they were speaking normally.

Weird sh*t.

My wife teaches 1st grade and a lot of what you just said sounds very similar.

I think my GM cracked under the pressure. She's been hounding us for inventory numbers. We've been telling her for months that as soon as a particular project drops, we're f*cked. This one project calls for about 500 of a specific type of server we build. We have another that needs about another 90 IIRC. And another in the pipeline for about 50. And then we get random builds here and there that require them.

We have... about 250 at the moment. We had around 300, but a big build dropped yesterday that has to be shipped international with less than a week to get there and get through customs, and no one in the office expects to make the shipping deadline. We have another 600 on back order, but our supplier is having supply chain issues themselves.

The big project got signed yesterday, and the president of the company walked over to give us the good news. We let him know we were still worried about inventory, and he had absolutely no clue what we were talking about, so we walked him through a rough estimate of the inventory, what was on back order, and the issues that our supplier was having. Our GM had been telling everyone we have the inventory. She's been telling all the sales people that our inventory is fine, and to keep pushing.

Normally she's pretty good about having our back, but this time she's thrown us right in the path of a massive bus. We've been ripping apart builds in the office to try to re-use anything we can so that we were in a better position when the time came, but... I just don't think it's going to be good enough. We have a couple months, so we may get by if we get somewhat regular shipments in that time, but all of us feel that's essentially using hope as a tactic.

Yeah, I remember back in the day when I was a db manager, the director of our group (my manager's boss) had favorite song, which was,"Everything's beautiful...". Several times I had to tell sales staff and higher ups, "um, no that's not possible, we can't do anything like that..." or similar. The best one was where they promised much more stuff than we could deliver, and I was asked to go along to the new client training, in case there were any questions the sales or analytic staff couldn't handle. I got grilled for three hours by a room full of actuarials, where they majority of my answers were a polite, "nope." That did not go well.

It is seriously not good to have your boss' boss constantly singing the "everything's beautiful" theme song, when you know all of the nitty gritty of why it most certainly is not....

I had my review yesterday. They can't measure performance for our team individually, so it felt almost more like an interview than a review. My manager is new in the position and is getting accustomed to it (well, he was my manager before, but recently got promoted to director).

A couple of questions have me a bit bothered though.

"What do you like about working here?"
The first things that came to mind are "It's flexible, and close." That's it. I mean, I've learned a lot, but that's probably an absolutely horrible, if honest, answer.

"How do you feel about your progression opportunities?"
"I don't have any." Completely honest and he knows it. There are no positions I can move to... I can't be demoted, I can't laterally move, I can't promote. I didn't mind this at first, but the prospect of being stuck here, even with a decent rate of pay, isn't particularly appealing.

I just started another course that was offered to me for free through the same group I got my Security+ through, and I'm honestly thinking about starting to look if I get this cert. It's the Cisco CyberOps Associate. Seems interesting at least. I really like my coworkers, and again... the job is super flexible (no time sheets, time off isn't tracked, it's really casual), and only 10 minutes from my house, but I might be doing myself a disservice by not keeping an eye to other opportunities.

I'm so pleased that none of the company-issued laptops have cameras (because information security), and we've simply continued the audio-only style of meeting that was the norm in the Before Times.

Roo wrote:

"Everything's beautiful..."

Ours was "No worries." Shudder.

Jonman wrote:

I'm so pleased that none of the company-issued laptops have cameras (because information security), and we've simply continued the audio-only style of meeting that was the norm in the Before Times.

Ugh, new group I got 'promoted' to lead is all cameras...

Jonman wrote:

I'm so pleased that none of the company-issued laptops have cameras (because information security), and we've simply continued the audio-only style of meeting that was the norm in the Before Times.

How did they find a laptop without cameras? Or more of a "we disabled them permanently" situation?

For folks that give interviews: what’s your favourite question to ask?

For technical (coding) interviews, my favourite interview question: what’s your favourite code-related book or blog? I don’t care about the answer (other than sometimes finding new things to read); I care that they have one - that isn’t stackoverflow - and that they can get excited about it.

charlemagne wrote:
Jonman wrote:

I'm so pleased that none of the company-issued laptops have cameras (because information security), and we've simply continued the audio-only style of meeting that was the norm in the Before Times.

How did they find a laptop without cameras? Or more of a "we disabled them permanently" situation?

It's a company with a six digit number of employees. I assume that when they say to Dell, we'll buy a hundred thousand laptops from you but only if there's no cameras on 'em, Dell are all "yessir!"

Chumpy_McChump wrote:

For folks that give interviews: what’s your favourite question to ask?

For technical (coding) interviews, my favourite interview question: what’s your favourite code-related book or blog? I don’t care about the answer (other than sometimes finding new things to read); I care that they have one - that isn’t stackoverflow - and that they can get excited about it.

But I don't have one.

Does GWJ count?

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/c429zRKr/2-F0-AA6-F8-EC1-A-468-E-8-DD7-DB790505499-E.jpg)

Hey! Thanks team!

I’ve given you my blood, sweat, and tears for more than half of the years that I’ve existed on this planet. You emailed me a picture of an airplane! And that “s” at the end of “years” is enclosed in parentheses! Is that because you’re not sure whether 29 years is plural? Or were you trying to exaggerate the intended impersonal sentiment of this occasion?

GO UNION!!!

My labor union didn’t email me any kind of recognition for my years of membership or thank me for all those years of financial contributions that I’ve made to the organization. But that’s ok, because you know what they did do? They protected me from the fraud and abuse that this company who I’ve dedicated my life to has perpetrated against me over the past 29 years. I’m 50yo. I’ve been an adult under the eyes of the law for 32 plus years. For the vast majority of my adult life I’ve been giving this company my all. Do you know that I’m required to turn out my pockets and display the contents of my lunch bag before and after every one of my work shifts? I realize that theft can be a problem at large companies, but what’s the price of dignity? By that I mean the dignity and worth of your most steadfast and dedicated employees. It almost makes me wish that I had stolen from them. Stolen a lot from them. Stolen so much that it hurt the company in a very significant way. But no. I still have dignity. I have the dignity of my own integrity. This company I work for and the administrators who I work under cannot make the same claim.

Peace, y’all! Keep your heads up and your fists in the air.

RawkGWJ wrote:

Do you know that I’m required to turn out my pockets and display the contents of my lunch bag before and after every one of my work shifts? I realize that theft can be a problem at large companies, but what’s the price of dignity? By that I mean the dignity and worth of your most steadfast and dedicated employees. It almost makes me wish that I had stolen from them. Stolen a lot from them. Stolen so much that it hurt the company in a very significant way. But no. I still have dignity. I have the dignity of my own integrity. This company I work for and the administrators who I work under cannot make the same claim.

I used to work in those types of environments where you had to have your belongings checked after every shift and experienced people who stole stuff from the company to various degrees, sometimes being caught and sometimes not (I think it was an unwritten rule at the Blockbusters in my city that if you didn't help yourself to the odd DVD and eat the occasional ice cream stick during your shift, you were the odd man out). I only have anecdotal evidence, but to me it seemed a direct correlation with how much stuff was stolen by employees at a company and how sh*tty the management/owners were to employees to the degree that you could see them rationalizing that they were "owed" something extra they did not pay for.

It also created a circular nature of distrust. Another unwritten rule at a fast food company I worked at was that if you noticed stock go missing, you would just adjust the inventory accordingly and hide the issue, because the only thing that happened if you reported it was that the owner would assume you were the one who stole it and find a way to fire you in the near future.

Ironically, every few weeks or so I’ll leave something in my car that I intended to bring in with me; for instance my coffee thermos or my flashlight. I’ll typically park my work truck near the employee parking lot on my way out to my next stop, casually walk to my car, grab the things I’m needing and walk back to my work truck, thus circumventing the guard shack. Nobody ever says a thing.

What’s that term? Security theater? If I wanted to get any kind of contraband into the building it would be a piece of cake.

edit

Cake would not be considered contraband. It’s a figure of speech. I was thinking more along the lines of a sword, firearm, or explosives.

Had a awful chef for years, and a new boss made it worse. This motivated me to look for another job with double effort (and the willingnes to travel 1+ hours a day). Found a job that is more fun and will double my wage.

When I told my chef that I will leave in 3 months and 1 week (I have a 3 months notice period, being employed at the kommun), and she somehow decided it will be three months. The discussion was hilarious.

me; 'really, you are going to cut me one week because I have the decency to give you a early notice?'
she; 'well, that's something for the union, but you are not a member of the union, are you?'
me (internally boiling); 'Nope, let's look at the semester days I still have. I will fork them all out.'

After some calculations it turned out I had 30 days spared.

me; 'okay. 60 days to work. 30 holidays. You know what. Skip this. I won't work these other 30 days. Here's my laptop, my phone and key.. Bye'
she; 'But, but... you can't quit directly'
me; 'That's probably something for your union to decide. Keep the wage, or sign me up sick. I don't care.'

I might take a 1 month hit with no income, but God it is worth it.

Who puts people like that in charge?

Even though you’re not a member of the union, they might give you representation if you ask. That’s how it works with my job.

Top_Shelf wrote:

Who puts people like that in charge?

Somehow, in these europrean countries they are quite untouchable when they hit a certain age. So many years of service for 'the community' that firing them would be far more expensive than let them stay. If the damage they do is not too great, they let them.

I worked at a school for years and we had a 'chief airconditioning'. An ol' headmaster who still had three years to serve. They gave him the remote of the airconditioning in the computer-room and we had to knock on his door to change the temperature. He sat there for three years from 9 to 5 earning 3800 euros a month or more. Meanwhile the management was cutting every young teacher wherever possible. It was depressing.

I have mixed feelings about the union. When I worked at the university, 300 of the 1200 teachers had a permanent contract. The rest was on flex, not able to get a mortgage at the bank and all. After the third extension the contract was not extended - hence they would be forced to give them a permanent contract. And after 6 months of welfare they hired them again on flex basis. Rinse and repeat. The fear of hiring a teacher on permanent basis who is backed by the union scared the sh't out of them.

Somehow the system is broken.

Peoj Snamreh wrote:

Somehow, in these europrean countries they are quite untouchable when they hit a certain age. So many years of service for 'the community' that firing them would be far more expensive than let them stay. If the damage they do is not too great, they let them.

That's definitely not just European countries. Many companies/institutions I've known or worked at have that old-school mentality where seniority is ranked as the most important thing, leading to people who avoid responsibility and refuse to learn any new skill that's been technically part of their job description for 2 decades being treated as sacrosanct geniuses while those under them constantly covering for the incompetence get burnt.

Also seems like it is the company is at fault for trying to save by rotating flex stuff. At least it is a lot harder to fire employees for zero reason or with zero severance in a lot of European countries.

I started a new job about 2 1/2 weeks ago. It's a small company and I'm still going through training and learning processes; it seems like a fair number of those processes are not documented or set in stone, which can lead to ambiguity and makes things less efficient. So I brought up one thing that should be better defined in policy to my boss in our 1:1 today, and he was like "great, go ahead and define that policy and we can implement it right away."

In contrast to my previous job where if I had an idea for a change we'd have to noodle on it for weeks, bring in stakeholders, get everyone's opinion before it (likely) would die and fade away into the background to be forgotten... having someone just say "yeah that's a good idea, you can create that and we'll use it" is so foreign; borderline mad. Like, who runs a company like this!? When someone has a good idea you just let them execute it?

I went through a similar adjustment about four years ago. It didn't really settle in for me until I had an opportunity to onboard a new team member and was explaining that to them. It's one of the many ways I know I made the right choice