Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Busy few weeks. New job, new environment. I'm a consultant now, which means that not only do I get to experience all the different ways that companies try to fix things, now I get to tell them how they should do it! The side effect of this is that now I get to see the inside of some much bigger companies than I have worked with in the past. I've always preferred the more dynamic environment of the small or startup company. Now, I'm part of a startup, but I report every day to a Fortune 500. Strange mix.

Now, I expected life to be a little bit different in a larger company, and obviously understood that the Dilbert factor was going to go way up, but I was still unprepared for the sheer level of bureaucracy that I encountered when I walked in the door. I continue to be amazed by the number of people who receive a paycheck for essentially making other people follow instructions. I'm also shocked by the amount of freedom that people are comfortable giving up in order to have a job.

Things that annoy me about my new engagement:

  • I have no admin access on my computer, so I can't install anything without either: a) wading through a byzantine ticketing system to (hopefully) file a ticket with the right IT sub-department to give me access, or b) waiting on the phone for 30 minutes to get a live person and walk them through the installation on my computer. I just want to synch my Palm!!!

  • Restricted access to the Internet. The official explanation is "security," but really, where's the security risk in The Onion? I've run into the Red Screen of Rejection so many times just in the course of trying to find information, I'm surprised that an IT SWAT team hasn't descended upon my cubicle to confiscate my keyboard. Actually, I can't believe that Blogger isn't on their restricted list.

  • In the same vein, employees here are not allowed to access external email, again in the name of security. POP3 is just plain blocked, and every major Web mail site is restricted. I'm beginning to suspect that "security risk" is a synonym for "personal time." It took me almost an entire day to figure out a way around that one.

  • Meetings. Nothing happens without a minimum of two meetings, and generally a pre-meeting conference to plan for the meeting. As far as I can tell, email is only a way to send meeting invitations, pre-meeting documentation, and meeting minutes. I like to talk as much as the next guy, but occasionally I like to actually think on my own, too. It's so bad here that people will insist on scheduling a meeting to discuss something, then not show up. Apparently, just the act of scheduling was enough.


It's not all bad, though. There are a few perks here:
  • Fitness center on site, for under $20/month. That's a third of what I paid for the one near my house.

  • Cafeteria in the building, complete with a grill, pizza, deli, and nice salad bar. Friday is Buffalo Chicken day, and which everyone gets excited about.

  • Someone always leaves a full newspaper on the bathroom stall floor, so if I time it right I can read the sports and the comics during my "break."

  • Oh yeah, and it's temporary. Six to nine months from now, I'll be learning the idiosyncracies of a different company. That -- plus the significant pay raise -- is why I took this job.

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