Thursday, November 5, 2009

Empty Wastebaskets

My first week at my new job has been something of a radical culture shock. At my last job, I wore jeans and t-shirts, worked on easy projects that I finished ahead of schedule, and spent the rest of my day checking my e-mail and reading blogs. Those days are gone forever. I have entered a realm of ponderous bureaucracy, inflexible rules and strange company culture.

I’m forced to wear “business casual” clothing, which I despise, because I just look sloppy in it. If I have to look sloppy, at least let me wear jeans and t-shirts so it seems intentional.

Security is very tight, sometimes incomprehensibly so. For example, one business unit is sealed off behind electronically locked doors that separate it from another business unit. This isn’t because either business unit could somehow violate the security of the other, it’s because their revenues are accounted for in different ways, and in the banking industry, that’s equivalent to having offices next to a lab housing rabies-infected monkeys.

The wastebasket beneath my desk seems to have no purpose, because I’m not allowed to throw trash in it. Corporate documents must be deposited in locked bins on the other side of the building so that they can be shredded. Cans, bottles and garbage must be hand carried to the lounge area and deposited in garbage cans. So I’m afraid to throw anything in the wastebasket, even Kleenex.

My computer is heavily protected and the content I can view is filtered through a carefully-controlled firewall. I can’t read blogs or personal e-mail. Worse, there’s no software installed on the machine that’s newer than 2003. Bankers are conservative, and they want to make sure all those nifty new productivity features that Microsoft introduced in 2007 aren’t really just evil Chinese spyware designed to destroy our economic system.

In fact, I can’t read any e-mail at all, because this company uses Lotus Notes, and for some unknown reason, it doesn’t work for me. Corporate management, in their wisdom, limited the scope of different IT groups, so that one single disgruntled employee can’t shut them down completely. One employee does one little part of the task to fix my system, and then passes the task along to another IT guy in some other location who does the next part, and so on. If anything fails during this process, it all goes back to square one and we start over.

My boss called me today, and I answered the phone conventionally: “Hello.” She laughed and told me I had answered the phone incorrectly. Apparently, there’s some corporate script I have to follow, that wasn’t explained to me by Human Resources. She promised to e-mail it to me, but my e-mail isn’t working yet. So now I’m afraid to answer the phone, which means the IT guys won’t be able to tell me when my e-mail is working.

1 comment:

michael said...

Ha! welcome to the banking world. Not to be negative....but it's only going to get worse. I got fired from a banking job for saying "damn" under my breath because the computer was so slow and the software so restrictive. I wish I was making this up, I really do.