Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The dangers of underutilisation

My ex colleague used to jokingly call me Marvin, because whenever I had a moan at work he said it would start along the lines of "I've got a brain the size of a planet and all they've got me doing is...". That always made me laugh.

Marvin the paranoid android, from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
But there's a very serious side to it - a mind that isn't exercised, that doesn't practise its abilities and that doesn't have a chance to really get out there and show off a bit, is bound to suffer. Those who know me learn very quickly that a bored Emily is a very dangerous thing indeed. A bored Emily is generally a frustrated Emily and that breeds resentment, discontent and eventually depression. The last is the most difficult to recover from.

So the easy answer is to keep busy: don't get into boring or frustrating situations. Find a job where you are stretched, where you can do great work all of the time, or failing that start your own business and work for yourself.

That's the easy answer.

Let's leave it there.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Joining the Corporate Side

As of Monday, the little agency I've been working for here in Sydney is no more. It has been bought outright and merged into a much, much bigger company. These things happen. So far, little has changed beyond the name on the deeds - I'm still working in the same office with the same team and our shift to corporate life will be a gradual one over the coming months.

I can hear your disappointment even before I've finished writing the words! "Oh Emily, why? How can you so betray your hippy fairy soul?". Well clearly it's not my choice. I was quite happy where I was, thank you very much. But it also doesn't have to be a problem. Really.

The plans you refer to...

Everything's easier with money. Stop judging! It's an ugly truth but no less factual for its displeasing visage. While a corporate job doesn't necessarily equate to a chunky salary, it does come with a plethora of other benefits: free gym membership, reimbursement of phone plans, salary sacrifice schemes... all of it helping those savings grow up to be big and strong. So the goal of debt-free eco living creeps ever closer. Keeping one's head down, continuing to watch the pennies, it won't be long before I can snatch that parcel of land in Nirvana.

Unfortunately there does seem to be some political and beaurocratic nonsense around getting employer nomination for a residency visa, but I've never been one to let such silliness get in my way. I'm pushing ahead with the application regardless, and will 'persuade' my new employer to play along even if I have to lock all the doors and execute one hostage at a time. (Might not mention that bit to the Department of Immigration...)

"Sign the papers. SIGN THEM NOW!"

The Death Star

It's big. It's posh. It's filled with pristene designer suits and polished glass cityscapes. But it's not all bad: I'll have my best friends beside me and plenty of work to get on with. And let's face it, work is great! It's distracting, it passes the time more quickly and it leads to a sense of accomplishment and self satisfaction. Probably the biggest problem I've had with work lately is the lack of it - I seem to spend most of my time dawdling about, never actually getting stuck into anything very challenging. So that'll be good.

One of the many lobbies. I don't know which one. It's confusing.
Of course it's also going to come with a brand new commute. At present there are just 170 metres between my bed and my desk, but that's about to extend to a whopping 2.1 kilometres More than twelve times as far! Instead of a two minute hop I'll be battling through pedestrian swarms for up to half an hour. Bright side? Well, clearly walking is healthier. Work-life boundaries can be more easily built. Commuting to the office with my best friend / neighbour will guarantee a daily dose of gossip. And popping into specialist food markets on the way home can be cheap as well as interesting. Yeah, I think it's going to be all right.

These are not the employees you're looking for

It might seem a bit out of sorts for a big corpo to hire a bunch of hippies in the first place. Have they made a mistake? Do they know what they're letting themselves in for? 

They insist that they do, that they're prepared for Rebels in their midst and willing to embrace us as we are (if only in the non-physical sense). We may have to tone down the touch-feely hugging for which our team is famed but we are packing the hammock and refusing to take any corporate bollocks from Director Vader. We'll continue as a small team buried inside a bigger one. I guess they're probably hoping that we'll nurture some loyalty for our new overlords but it doesn't really matter as long as we're still loyal to one another. Passion for doing good work is unlikely to change, although I do quietly reserve the right to refuse any particularly evil clients that come my way (I can't have another US pharmaceutical company on my conscience, not after last time).

It's a lizard in a hammock. That's how we roll.
In summary, yes I am now part of the capitalist machine in a much bigger way than I've been for years. It's happened against my will. But I'm running with it. When life gives you lemons etc etc etc, bla-bla-bla...