Category Archives: office

Elisa equals to afternoon of queuing

Yesterday I returned to the office after holidays. More about the feelings on the Post-holiday blues blog…

Anyway, after writing this post the amazing thing was that the return wasn’t that bad at all. The moment I stepped in the door of our office I remembered that I actually liked my job and my colleagues! Rather simple.

Also there was no caos or stress awaiting me, only suntanned colleagues and a relaxed atmosphere. So, today it was a lot easier to ride the bike to work in the morning.

Although my old anxiety remains, the one that tells that one these days I have to try something of my own… but till that day, and The Big Idea of what I actually want to do, my work is just fine.

However, the only setback at the office was that my work mobile phone (Nokia Lumia 800) had died during the vacation. No sign of life. This meant afternoon of queuing at Elisashopit in the centre of Helsinki. Elisa is one of the two big tele operators in Finland (the other one being Sonera).

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I spent about an hour waiting for my turn, with lots of other people. This wasn’t the first time I was doing this in my life, and it’s equally bad when you try to call to Sonera/Elisa customer service. The waiting times are amazingly long! Once again I asked myself the eternal question: why?

This problem has been going on for years so it’s kind of a national joke already. Everyone knows that the service is very very slow.

So would it be a completely unrealistic idea to hire at least one more person for every shop to serve the customers? This would surely make the customer satisfaction rates go up and in the end everyone would be happier – especially the poor customer service staff who have to listen to all the complaints.

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Post-vacation Blues – What to Do?!

One part of my nice and long (but not long enough!) summer vacation I spent in Spain… visiting old friends and enjoying the easy life. More about this great trip shall follow a little later in the blog… This photo is from my friend’s flat – what a view to live with!

Freedom is a dangerous thing, at least for us office workers. When you get to taste a bit of it, (or maybe not even that little as I was free for most of the summer, almost 6 weeks…anyway) going back to the office is tough and the routine seems totally absurd: running from one meeting to another, receiving and answering random emails and eating lunch fast always at the same time and with the same people.

Worst of all is to sit the typical 8 hours 5 days a week inside the office – these hours seem like an eternity… Why, oh why, as during the vacation I was able to fit so many (nice) things in just one day – AND sleep late, if I felt like that!

been there…

The positive thing is that human being is a flexible creature and gets used to almost anything – amazingly fast. After 2 weeks in the office I have already almost forgotten the wonderful empty days and my freedom. Without complaining (too much) I wake up early from Monday till Friday and spend the whole day sitting on a chair in front of a computer inside the office, even if the sun is shining outside. Well, my colleagues tell me that the third week will be better. Let’s see…

However, I also notice that something curious is happening to me these days. Before the vacation I was quite ready to start looking for a new job. I felt frustrated with processes that become too big and messy and never result in anything concrete and frustrated with of my job description composed of 1001 miscellaneous things…

But most of all I got tired of the routine (as they say, the routine kills): having to spend 8 hours a day doing something that I wasn’t that convinced about. Why?!? In brief, my feeling was that I was wasting my days while the potential fun and interesting  life and all kinds of cool opportunities were drifting away from me – oh, if I only was brave enough to go and catch them!

However now, after summer vacation, I feel somehow more peaceful and positive. Perhaps the glimpse of freedom made me realize that in the end nothing in this life is permanent and that I CAN change my life whenever I want to.

So, instead of starting to look for another job, I now try to concentrate on the positive aspects, do my work as well as I can and try to develop personally, enjoy my colleagues and just ignore the negative things. Amazingly it really works! Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that tonight, surfing the Internet, I found this article:

If Your Job Sucks, It Might Be Your Fault; Let’s Fix That

And so it is! Before or later all the jobs start to suck:

“It’s inevitable. After enough time at any job, you have a day that really sucks. Then, eventually, maybe another. And another. Suddenly the job you loved starts to feel like, well, work. And bad work at that. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

But before leaving, there are many tricks and ways to try to make it all better… I would say that in many many cases these tricks truly work. And if they don’t, well, then it probably really is time to go. I’ll hang on – for some time now, at least – and with a smile! 🙂 Knowing that the day I honestly get enough, I’m free to move on…

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The Best Place to Work

Great Place to Work® just announced the 100 best workplaces in Europe in 2012. They have been making these lists since 2003 and this year more than 1.500 companies from 18 countries participated in the contest.

Multinational companies,  middle-sized and small companies have their own lists. The good news is that a Finnish company called Futurice gained the first prize in the category of small and middle-sized companies. What is so special in them? Or in general: what makes an excellent workplace?

I’ve been pondering this question a lot during the last couple of months, as I’ve been thinking of my future (working) life and where I’d like to see myself. I’ve also noticed quite a few things at my current and previous jobs that could be developed or done in another way – well, each and every workplace has its pros and cons.

The winning companies work in different fields but do have some common features. José Tolovi, Jr., Global Chairman of the Board, writes on the Great Place to Work® webpage that “despite the economic uncertainty in Europe, the 100 Best Workplaces lead the way in demonstrating that creating and maintaining a workplace culture based on trust is good for business.”
“What unites them is strong and visionary leadership and a commitment to creating the kind of workplace where employees trust the management, have pride in what they do and enjoy working with their colleagues. It is these motivated and dedicated employees who are more likely to support the organisation and help companies get through times of economic uncertainty.”

I certainly agree! Trust is the key issue – like in any relationship. Without trust there’s nothing. Talking with my friends about their work experiences, I would say in most of the workplaces the trust missing or at least is not on the level where it should be. The boss doesn’t trust his employees, who get frustrated and feel that they are treated like children. For return, they don’t trust the boss and think that he has bad intentions. This is where everything fails. If you’re not being trusted, you don’t feel ownership of the company and in the end nobody wants to take responsability of anything. And that’s really bad.

Futurice staff receiving the prize for the Best Workplace.

As to Futurice, sure the employees enjoy some special benefits there like having breakfast together once a week, a billiard board and, naturally, a sauna at the office. All these are nice examples of taking the employee’s wellbeing seriously, but of course the true reasons of success lie behind the surface.

One Futurice employee comments that important aspects are the open culture and that you don’t have to be a boss to be able to influence in things. Another employee says that the company has a great spirit of doing things. Sure: things get done fast when you have motivated workers!

Openness, innovatiness, love. For Futurice these 3 things are considered essential for leading a company. Sounds good to me.

In a good workplace people work because they want to and because they feel appreciated, not to please the boss. (Ok, maybe occasionally…)

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One of my favourite spots which I pass by when I go running near home. This morning everything looked so pretty with the sun, sea and the green trees.

This Saturday we have excellent weather here in Helsinki. Once again I understood how amazingly appealing the city can be when it wants to… I slept well, went for a morning run and in the afternoon my aunt and the family of my cousin came for a visit and we enjoyed (too much) ice cream and talked about our lives. My cousins live in Charlottesville, Washington D.C., so I see them very rarely. Luckily now they’ll spend a whole year here in Helsinki.

Talking about this and that my aunt suddenly asked me the question:

– Do you like your work?

– No, I answered – with an emphasis.

Before thinking about it, my lips had spoken. Then I started with all the explications: well, of course it’s not that bad, my colleagues are really nice and the subject in itself is very interesting, as we’re working for a better world in the NGO… It’s just the feeling that my job description does not match what I would be able to do. I feel that days pass by while doing a bit of this and that but I’m never able to engage myself thoroughly in anything. My tasks are too fragmented.

I loved the answer of my aunt: “Well, then it’s time to change”, she said placidly and then we moved on to other subjects.

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Change. It seems so simple and so many people are changing their lives all the time. So what holds me back?

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” 
― Albert Einstein

I guess my problem is typical: I don’t know what I want. More or less yes, but not in detail. For a half a year now, I’ve been pondering a lot on what I really want from life. Not easy. However, every day I get more and more convinced that, even if there’s nothing wrong with my work or with my life, I really need to react as soon as possible. Otherwise days, months and years pass by while I’m doing something that’s “ok” but not “amazing”.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” 
― Lewis Carroll

Many of my friends have similar feelings this spring, so we’ve discussed the subject a lot. Everyone has a different situation but in the end it’s all about the same things. Change. I just read 10 signs it’s time to change your job I found, and I don’t fill all of them. However, many things are valid for me too, and this is only one list.

For example I know I’m not performing to the best of my ability. I’d love to do more meaningful things. I also need to get challenged a bit – with myself. Yesterday I met a friend, who also knows my colleagues, and someone had commented that I don’t seem that enthusiastic anymore at work as in the beginning. That is true, unfortunately. I never want to become cynical.

I have also looked for ways to improve the current situation but our organisation isn’t that big and there is quite a strong culture of doing things in a certain way – like in many places. So, change tends to be slow…

Sometimes I also feel that I can’t get enough positive reinforcement to keep my spirits up. This is a typical problem in Finland – lack of positive feedback. They say that everything goes well when nobody says anything.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, here I am home alone on a Saturday evening pondering on my life and my future. Actually I’m feeling positive and peaceful, as I know the change will come and that it will be for better. These days I’ve had the necessity to spend some time with myself and my thoughts, while normally I’m a very sociable people and spend most of my free time accompanied. Now, I feel that for being able to implement wise changes in one’s life you need to stop, think a lot, imagine the future you want, make lists, mind maps or whatever. Then, some unexpected moment The Change is there and you’ll be ready for it – either it comes to you or you have found it as you knew where to look for…

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” 
― Anaïs Nin

PS: I’ve been also reading a lot of quotes on life and change, as I like this form of concise expression (being un impatient person) and I get many inspiring ideas there. So, here I share a few.

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” 
― Robert Frost

Change – what a wonderful word

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Training at work – take it or take it

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Today we had a one-day training on Conscious Email writing at my office. For some reason, only women participated. Yes we have a female majority, but still.

I was kind of looking forward to the training, as I work in communications and thought it might offer useful and concrete methods for writing effective emails. Well, it didn’t. Even if the trainer was a nice young lady with lot of experience in Finnish language and ideas about consciousness and mindfulness to make you more happy with yourself, other people and the universe.

Maybe I just have wrong attitude or am too critical, but I knew this wasn’t for me when we started to drag feelings written on pieces of paper from “a sack of feelings” and then act according to “happy”, “sad”, “frustrated” etc. Then others had to guess which feeling we represented. I felt like a 15-years old on a school camp…

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“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki. Credit: Dialectic&Therapy

During the day we did lots of writing exercises: writing an happy vs angry email, walking around the block (in a pouring rain) and writing about our good and bad observations. We even ate a raisin – mindfully. This Raisin Exercise is actually quite famous – and sure, it was quite fun. Looking carefully at the raisin, putting it in our mouth and slowly biting and swallowing it… OK, I felt a bit funny but maybe it was my unconscious side fighting against development?

Still, I wasn’t alone with my feelings as two of my communications colleagues also participated the training and shared my “agony”. And two guys who decided not to take part said they were sorry for us girls and laughed that “it’s better not to go to any training” to avoid all that Neo Hippie stuff. “Three years without any training and I’m very happy”, stated the other guy. Anyway, I warned them that starting from now they would receive emails from me filled with love for the universe and positive energy… “Please don’t”, there answer was.

All this said, I think mindfulness, meditation and in general concentrating on the present moment are great things to practise. But you should keep them in a bigger context and not impose the ideas on people in an artificial way… Where does the thin line go? Maybe in how you feel? Today me and my colleagues felt awkward.

OK, I’ve also been to various excellent trainings in my life. Actually just 2 days ago I attended a very interesting seminar on fundraising. What’s do interesting trainings have in common? They challenge you, make you think and offer something completely new – but at the same time useful in your every day work. Today, I felt I’d heard all this stuff many times before and I really couldn’t see myself implementing them in my daily work: I wouldn’t ponder my inner feelings every time I sent an email. Or I wouldn’t analyze people sending me email: their life, dreams, character… At least not in a conscious way.

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What is mindfulness? Credit: The Cognitive Therapy Behaviour Partnership.

Ah, luckily it’s weekend! I’m visiting my parents tonight, having a sauna and my mom prepared some fresh asparagus (it’s the period) and an excellent gin tonic for me. I shall fall in bed very soon – unconsciously… Good night!

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The perfect job that never was

The sun is shining and it’s almost Easter, so I left the office early and called up a friend for a glass (it ended up to be 3) of rose in my new favourite bar next to home – Birds Cavabar that featured on the blog also yesterday… I don’t drink cava EVERY day though.

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Lapinlahdenkatu, the street of Birds Cavabar. Today it looked just like this - a pleasure to wait for my friend out in the sun.

Anyway, it’s great to see my dear friend, who works as producer for a talented Finnish photographer and who is going to open an art gallery soon. What happens nowadays is that we mostly talk about work – I guess something has changed, as before men (and various other subjects) used to come before the career.

My friend hadn’t heard what happened to me with my job interview a couple of weeks ago. In a nutshell, I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated at my current job, and been looking for “new challenges”. So I sent an application for a communications job at the Ministy of Internal Affairs. It sounded perfect.

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Ha! And I thought I was clever choosing well paid & interesting. But something essential was left out...

To my big surprise they called me for an interview! They had received 172 applications and interviewed only 5, so I felt fortunate. I spent days preparing: studying their webpages, reading their comms strategy, composing a clever answer for any possible question.

On the day of the interview I felt confident. People were nice and everything seemed to go ok… just that it didn’t. I had this strange feeling that something was wrong, and when I got out I texted my boyfriend that I don’t get this job.

And I didn’t. A week later I received an email telling that they chose someone else – the person who is currently doing the job (with a temporary contract). So, in the end it was a kind of a fake job offer – normally they always choose the person who they already have working – if he/she isn’t a complete disaster. That’s a normal procedure and perfectly just. What is not so just is that you have almost 200 people who honestly think they’ve got a fair chance: nobody told be what the situation was – and of course I didn’t realize to ask about it. Next time I will.

But it’s interesting that talking about my experience I heard many similar stories from my friends. Is this a common procedure? I couldn’t find any info with some Googling, but it sure would be interesting to know.

Well, there’ll be more jobs and mine is not that bad – at all. Still, looking for something new once in a while is good for you! It makes you evaluate your abilities and helps you to demand more at your current job – they shouldn’t take you for granted.

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