No products in the basket.

The Office

Previous article
Next article

This is your seat, for now. Desk moves happen every quarter in a good year, so don’t get too comfortable. You don’t have to work at your desk. You could always work in the library, the arboretum or the ball pen. The latter is not advised, but we all have those days, nobody will judge you. There are casual setting areas with couches, bubble chairs, hammocks and so on. They’re great for focused work, but with the hammocks, you’ve got to be careful not to rock yourself to sleep. If you’re needed, somebody will ping you via direct message, and you can walk back. If you get several pings, you must run back. 

Here’s your bag of goodies. It’s got your phone, your laptop, some stickers and your t-shirt. Your phone is not for making calls. Nobody makes calls. You will mainly use it for checking your calendar, and sending and receiving direct messages. The stickers are essential. You will obtain many more in the course of your work, and you must strategically plaster them across your laptop’s cover.  People are far too busy working to speak, you see, so this is how we express ourselves, communicate and get to know one another. It is a form of communication you need to master very quickly. Think of it as a less complex and more emoji-laden form of semaphore. 

Your manager sits here, but you will never see her except for when you’re running to a meeting and you pass in the hallways, or at the yearly summit for our org. However, as she will write your end of year review, you must stay in regular contact with her, via direct message, or email, or via the task management software. How well do you communicate via GIF? Oh no worry, you’ll learn. Just remember, time spent finding the perfect gift is time well spent.

Efficiency is a highly prized skill here. Many of your colleagues work in different timezones, so you need to organise your working hours accordingly. For example, if you have meetings with California you’ll have to work late. If you have meetings with Singapore, you’ll have to work early. It’s your job to know when a meeting should actually be an email, or when a meeting should be a six-hour flight followed by a face-to-face meeting. The difference between those two is incredibly hard to tell.  

Did you see her? In the corner of your eye just now. Yes, that’s Pam our cleaner.  The cleaners move like ninjas in this place. I’ve never met one face to face, only glimpsed them. Now if you are ever fortunate enough to encounter one, bow your head low and pay the proper respect. I think the wiki has instructions on the proper decorum. I’m not sure how they did things at your previous employers, but her cleaners determine the end of year bonuses. It makes sense, doesn’t it? They see everything, they know everything; pristine character or dirty laundry, the cleaners know are in the know. Plus, they tend to be the most highly educated people in the building. Few of us get to speak to them, so your best bet to curry favour, in addition to doing impactful work, is keeping your work area tidy – it’s not on the capability matrix, but it will reflect well on you when they are making their determinations. 

Down that corridor over there sits Chris Fogg. He is a bit of a social pariah. He always puts non-recyclable trash in the recycling bins. Can you believe that? Countless people have told him about it, but he doesn’t care. Obviously, you can’t fire someone for breaching recycling policies, but believe me, if we could, he would be out of here. 

Olayinka Oshin, director of our org, sits over there, overlooking the arboretum. She is a legend in these parts. She hacked the CEOs computer when she was 11. A total takeover of his machine just to say “Hi”. She had a fan letter typed up and she wouldn’t relinquish control of his computer until she finished reading the whole thing. The next day, he hopped on a plane to meet her. She’s been at the company for fifteen years now. As a result, she’s very influential. If you take a great idea to her, you could hit the big time. On the other hand, her bi-weekly reviews send a steady stream of people running out of her meeting room in floods of tears. Don’t worry, there are tissue boxes on every desk on this floor for that very reason. 

Peter Lipton who sits in that bank of desks, he’s a graphic designer, is in love with Raquel Choletta, she sits opposite him and she is a software engineer. They started on the same day, and he thinks it’s ‘a sign’. He does increasingly outlandish things to get her attention. First of all, it was things like grabbing her a drink from the micro-kitchen. But more recently, things have got a little dangerous. She mentioned that she always wanted to go rock climbing, so Peter organised a team rock-climbing trip. She was making great progress to the summit. At one point Peter was craning his neck, trying to catch a glimpse of Raquel as she reached the top and he had a terrible fall.

Raquel barely knows Peter exists. She has far too many important things on her mind. In addition to working on some of our most significant technological advances, she looks after her two elderly parents. She’s also a spy. Not the bad kind, of course, she’s not selling company secrets, she infiltrates international drug cartels and human trafficking rings. It doesn’t really interfere with her work, but she does randomly go away on extended international trips. Sometimes she takes her parents with her. That particular profession runs in the family you see. They are retired now, but I guess it’s quite useful to have a couple of pensioners who are experienced in espionage as decoys. She does great work when she is here, that’s the main thing. My only critique is that she often forgets to cancel her meetings when she goes on missions. I try to be forgiving, given the circumstances. Now obviously you can’t talk to her about all this. Don’t even mention it. Just do your best to cultivate a good character for her memoir.  

Office relationships are permitted, but there are a few rules. The cleaners are off-limits because of their key role in determining bonuses. If you are in a relationship with someone at the same level as you, you will be asked to give them feedback in line with the capabilities framework their role is assessed against. If you date someone in a more senior or junior position, you will need to enrol as subjects in the ‘Power dynamics in workplace relationships study’ at the local university. The company agreed to it whilst negotiating to use the university’s quantum computing lab a few years ago. I’ll be honest; not all relationships survive the intense questioning those research scientists subject you to. But if you do make it through, it’s a very good indicator for a successful marriage, so I think it’s actually quite a useful setup.

Stephanie Sope over there is a unicorn, in both senses of the word. She is currently a content strategist, but she has previously worked as a software engineer, a product designer, a data scientist, a product manager and a sniper. She can do anything, and she is very much in demand. She also turns into a unicorn when the sun sets. There are no animals allowed in the office, so she has to ensure that she gets home before the Change. Never invite her for anything after 6 o’clock. There is some leeway in the summer. But in the winter you really have to move quickly if you need her in your meeting. 

This is a micro kitchen. You can pick up drinks or snacks from here when you are rushing to a meeting. You can pick up drinks & snacks for others, as many as you can balance on your laptop. But you don’t want to do that during your first few weeks. You don’t want to seem too eager. This is the Espresso machine for our floor. On occasion, you might find some green goop on it. That’s from Gabriella; we hired her from Mars. There’s a bit of a skills shortage when it comes to quantum data scientists, so the recruiters had to go a bit further afield. Gabriella is really nice. She’s really good at Beatsaber and tennis. She’s the top person to have on your team during a pub quiz and generally, she’s a real team player. The only real challenge she’s encountered here on earth is the Espresso machines. Generally, she’s excellent at holding human form, but her frustration with these machines causes her to disassemble a bit. Don’t offer to help; she hates that. 

Bethany Nash sits here. As you can see from all of these stickers on the back of her laptop, she has a pit bull named Moxie. Everyday ay 11:45 she has a fifteen-minute zoom call with Moxie. Moxie gets terrible anxiety at doggy daycare. If you ever look over her shoulder when she’s at her desk, you will see that she has a live feed into the doggy daycare, so she can watch Moxie all day. She’s a designer, and also an accomplished painter. She’s never painted a dog. I remember her saying at the Christmas party one year that she reveres dog and a bunch of other weird stuff. She’s nice enough, but let‘s just say that if things suddenly went all Planet of the Dogs, she wouldn’t be on our side.   

This is the creche. No, you are not allowed to take a baby from here. If you are considering foster care or adoption, just email Employee Services and they can help you. Parents can have their babies looked after here free of charge, but only up until their first birthday. By then, a lot of them are starting to, or are, talking, and the risk of corporate espionage is too high. How many times has a baby or toddler come up to you and told you something that neither they nor you should know? Exactly. They can’t sign NDAs so they can’t be trusted 

Augustus Montague sits in that bank of desks over there. He is a vampire. If you’re wondering why we hired a vampire, we might need to sign you up for some diversity training. You see, just because someone is born with certain attributes, it does not determine their character. Augustus is a valued member of the legal team and with his health insurance, he’s able to procure the blood transfusion he needs to lead a healthy and slaughter-free life. 

That would be the end of it, except for the fact that on the other side of the office you’ve got Ama Sâbotnichav, our policy advisor. Ama is half Ghanaian, half Bulgarian, and on her Bulgarian side she comes from a long line of vampire hunters. As you can imagine, they have had one or two personality clashes. We do our best to keep them apart, but if you ever find yourself standing between the two of them, I suggest you run to your next meeting. If you don’t have a meeting in the calendar, book a meeting using your phone. Do whatever you need to do, just don’t get caught in the crossfire.  

You will be glad to know that the company has a very comprehensive health insurance plan that covers you in the event of a wide range of occurrences including, but not limited to: falling ill with a deadly virus whilst on a research trip in a failed state, experiencing shock on seeing a colleagues bone protruding out of their skin after a messy fall while on a rock climbing trip and of course, the stress of getting caught in between Ama and Augustus as well as any ensuing injuries.  

This is our foodhall. At lunchtime, there are seven stations, each station is a different continent and they serve a different country’s cuisine each day. I mostly go to Africa. You can go to two or three countries if you want. Going to more than three countries is intensely frowned upon. Except if your team is in product launch mode; anything goes during project launch. 

And lastly, the piece de resistance: this amazing roof garden; with the bonus of this beautiful view of the city. Enjoy it. Savor it. Take a picture if you want. This will probably be the last time you see it with your own eyes. In future, every time you come up here, your phone will ping with a new meeting. I’m what you call a special case, there’s a special grace attached to being in charge of orientation. But it is limited. Alas, there it goes, I’ve got to head down for a meeting. Oh, yes, you as well. Oh, three pings; you’d better get running.  

Did you like my writing? Sign up to get more!

Every day in 2023, I'll send an inspiring poem, engaging flash fiction or a captivating short story directly to your inbox. Join hundreds of readers, for free!