Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid experiences a different office

Confessions of a benefits manager

Why is it always me that gets seconded to work on mergers and acquisitions? What makes it worse this time, is they have sent me to Coventry. Literally. I have to work there three days a week to help with preparing for the sale. It is ridiculous because the data ‘room’ is virtual anyway, but all the key Higher Beings involved in the project work out of that office and someone has decided I should be there too. Ugh.

The first challenge is finding the office. Their administrator Geraldine has put me in a hotel miles away, so I must drive through all the rush hour traffic to get there. The office is very central and as such there is no car park nearby. I set off with my laptop and umbrella in search of the office. Eventually, I find the office building, hidden down an alley behind a bank. I am late already which is not the best start.

There is a site ID badge waiting for me on the front desk. I have to call a number to activate the card they tell me. Right. Juggling my laptop, I find my phone and dial the number on the back. They want to know my employee number. I don’t know about you, but that is not one of the numbers I commit to memory, so I rummage for the back page of my notebook where I scribble useful numbers. I am told the badge will not actually work until I speak to facilities to get it activated on site as well. I am not likely to get much work done at this rate.

Luckily, Geraldine thought to book me a desk in the HR area and she shows me to my desk. I make a note of the desk number to book it again for tomorrow. Once logged in, I call facilities to ask them to activate my building ID card. After a few hours they send me an email to confirm I am checked in for the day. Sigh. I am going to be working here for a couple of months I tell them. No reply.

I have also been given a locker to put my stuff in, but it is the other side of the floor, so I keep my stuff with me. They seem to have a very clean desk policy as I notice no-one has anything personal on or near their desk. I look online to find out how to change the locker number and vow to do this the next day.

The desks have big screens you can plug into, but no keyboard or mouse, so I find myself peering at the laptop screen anyway. I ask Geraldine how I go about getting a keyboard. She says I need to ask IT. I log a ticket for that too but get no reply.

My desk is in HR, but there is no one else in that area today. In the next few rows are sales and they make enough noise for two departments; it is impossible to concentrate. I have just one meeting with the project team today, but no-one has thought to book a room. I cannot sit at my desk for the meeting as the divestiture is confidential. Meeting rooms are sought after and there isn’t one free. In the end I sit in a little coffee area behind a screen. Everyone else has dialled in from home. As I could have done. Grrr.

I work late because I still need to do my normal job on top of this project, and when I go to leave there are few left in the office. The offices are a labyrinth and I wish I had made a note of my route in from the lift in the morning. After two circuits, I am still lost and cannot find the lifts. The only doors seem to lead to meeting rooms. It is cringing but I ask someone from one of the meeting rooms to show me the way out. He points out the door to lift area, but my ID pass does not work so I have to go back and ask him to open the door for me as well. So much for my facilities site activation.

In the hotel, I go online to book my desk and find that the number I had noted is on another floor, so I have to guess it from the tiny map. I am not sure if I have booked the same place.

The next day, at least I know my card will not work and I know to put my stuff in a locker. However, despite the instructions I cannot figure out how to change the code. I feel a tiny sense of disquiet leaving my stuff protected only by the default code, but I know I am being paranoid. I also know that that the numbers on the desk do not correspond to the numbers we book online so I just listen out for the sales team. Everything seems designed to be stressful here.

Today at least there is someone else sitting in the HR area and I ask them if they are on the ‘snail’ project. Nope. So, I cannot talk to them about that anyway. I go in search of a coffee but once again the coffee machine is not working, there is one in another area, but I would need to go through one of the doors for which my card still does not work. I sip on some water instead and ping facilities again. Why is everything so difficult here?

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I log onto the virtual data room and start uploading benefit plan documents. I do not know why I cannot be doing this from home or even from my usual office. I never thought I would say this, but this place is so unfriendly, I even miss Big Bad Boss and my colleague Lazy Susan.

Next time…Candid works on performance management.