Shame, such a shame

Time management, specifically time management of techies, is a curious thing. And by time management, I mean the time-following applied by management to techies. It also, as it happens, to be another one of those trigger situations (yes, indeed, I have trigger situations, not just phrases) that well, cause me to seethe.

I think I kind of lost myself again

So let’s try and lay out my thinking here, from the start, through the slippery slope, down to the OH-NO-THE-WORLD-IS-ABOUT-TO-IMPLODE ending. So, it always starts like this: I don’t have to be in by a certain time. Neither does anyone.

Day, yesterday
Really should be leaving but I stay

For my first aside, let me point out these days we are generally task focused. Therefore there is no need for me/us/whomever to be in by a certain time. We don’t have to talk to clients, and if we do, we come in when they are. We don’t need to be on instant availability (out of hours I do on call, so I am, as it happens) as these days nothing falls over before we get here than can’t be coped with until we get in. We aren’t like sales people, who need to be in 9-5, office hours, to talk to other types who are 9-5ers. No, we aren’t.

Say, say my name

For my second aside, I also have to point out that I am at my desk by 8am every morning. So why get het up about having some arbitrary (let’s say 9.30am) time of being chained to desk enforced? Oh, hey, that is the point of this whole post. I am getting there. You would think, then, that this wouldn’t affect me. And from that point of view, it doesn’t. However. And here comes my cascade of mental output.

I need a little love to ease the pain
I need a little love to ease the pain

Once I am told I have to be in by a certain time, then some of my goodwill evaporates. My first thought is to count how many hours I do a week. Does it come to more than thirty-seven and a half, the amount I am contracted to do? Well, as it happens, yes, yes it does. And my first thought is to stop that. I shall do exactly the hours I am supposed to. And not read work email out of hours. Either on my company-issued BlackBerry, or VPNing in, or webmail, or any how. I can do that in my alloted 37.5 hours a week. (There is a school of thought that says you shouldn’t even look at work mail in your own time, but hey, I am loyal, interested and do.)

So now the amount of work I do in work has decreased. By, let’s say, six/seven hours a week all told.

It’s easy to remember when it came

Next, I start to account for every half hour of my day. Not to cover myself, but so I have an audit trail. And if I get asked why I spent half an hour thinking on something, my next response is not to think on it, but rather demand then that every task be laid out for me, and I will do them. In order that they come. Because if I can’t be allowed the breathing room, then it has to be done for me, no?

‘Cause it feels like I’ve been
I’ve been here before

Then we get to proper timesheets, and hoary 70s Union-esque work-to-rule. And less thinking, less creativity, less goodwill and more obstinacy. Well, they have laid out the terms, I will stick to them. A game of squash a week, coming in at 9.30. None of this precludes doing great work, on time, to high standards of excellence. Silly, petty timekeeping rules, on the other hand, drive it in the other direction. Because it is a tiny piece of resentment, a small itch that spreads.

You are not my savior
But I still don’t go

Programmers as temperamental artists? Hell yeah. Programming, and the handling of programming types, is an art form. A creative art form. There is no formula, you can’t induce creativity, you nurture it. Yes, the crazy mental stuff done at 2am (though those days are gone, aren’t they?) needs reverted from your favourite version control system the next morning, but the ideas might bear fruit. And rules like this, or dress code, or anything else, just kidney-punch my soul.

Feels like something
That I’ve done before

See, the thing is, it is all rolled into my Libertarian outlook. And not taking the piss. The Man gives me some leeway, some privileges, and if I don’t misuse them, then everyone is happy, and I don’t feel the need to Bring Down The State. (Well, I don’t up my Bringing Down The State activities, as I am content.)

I could fake it
But I still want more

Nuking from orbit is never a viable solution. And even at that, I would wager it is all perception, and whomever this new diktat was aimed at, whatever problem it was meant to fix, isn’t really as much of an issue as it seems. Or seems to us. Whatever the viewpoint from above, it obviously differs from mine.

Fade, made to fade

This has happened to me in a few positions of employment, and thinking back on it, it certainly was the thin end of a moving walkway. And it also looks, anecdotally, that I haven’t lasted long in those places once this sort of regime is invoked.

Passion’s overrated anyway

Now, do I realise that you can’t have anarchy in the workplace? Of course I do. We all have contracts. We can’t sit on IRC all day. We do, but we don’t type there all day. So a few late comers, a few games of squash, little points in goodwill, shouldn’t cause much concern. Unless you want the office empty at 5.30pm everyday, and no one going above and beyond.

Say, say my name

It intrigues me as to why companies do this. Resentment from the non-tech departments? As in they have to be in by X o’clock, can’t wander out when they want, can’t do this or that? That we have it easier than them? That is just another perception issue, and shouldn’t be even taken into consideration. Or else have it explained what we do, and how we do it.

I need a little love to ease the pain
I need a little love to ease the pain

I can’t help thinking that regardless of the corporate culture, ethos and the like, this all just comes down to pettiness. Should it accelerate all those scenarios? Probably not, but it gets my back up, and if anything, I can huff (and sup from the deep grudgeohol well) for Oirland, and as it is for Oirland, it lasts a long, long time. Or until I leave, which is always shorter. And affords me the opportunity to bring it up on my own little dusty corner of the intertubes.

It’s easy to remember when it came

Am I being insane here? Does this all seem way over the top, for something that doesn’t affect (but causes and effect) in me? A massive overreaction? Or first they came from my timesheet, and I said nothing. Then they came for my poetical analogies, so I stopped there.

‘Cause it feels like I’ve been
I’ve been here before
You are not my savior
But I still don’t go, oh
I feel like something
That I’ve done before

It is a culture shift. Change bad. Though change good. And nothing ever changes without any pain.

I could fake it
But I still want more, oh

  1. What can I say? Other than, that you are right and it is good to see you back on the blog.

    Thu 01 Apr, 7:38PM

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