I have never been the type of employee to personalize my work space until 5 years into my current position. The company had done a leadership swap and we were suddenly led by a new Vice President that had less education than her employees. She was just finishing a Master’s degree and had zero research or stats experience. Yet, she was charged with leading the team of Institutional Analysts, all who had Masters Degrees or PhD’s and many, many years of research and data experience. It was probably the most depressed I have ever been in this job.
Our leader would only reign for 16 months but it was the absolute low point in my research career. In her short time with our group, she promoted “her” people, decentralized our work, and completely ignored my small team. When her position was eliminated in the first major lay off the company would endure, she didn’t even bother to tell us. Her unit of 16 employees were left to find out by accident after she emptied her office over the weekend and left a pile of shredded papers in the open area.
I was not sad for her or sorry to see her go. In fact, our group ended up back under our original VP (Thank GOD!) and “her people” with inflated titles and bloated salaries were demoted and/or ‘let go’.
I was so unhappy during the 16 months of having a shitty boss that I tried to trick my mind. I created a sunny and happy work space surrounded by photos of my family and children’s art work.
Did it work? Did it make the workplace better? Not really, but it gave me focus. When I had to be in the office (I was 60+% remote), it made it tolerable to be able to look up and see my girls. It showed a bit of my personality to my co-workers and made it appear like I cared a great deal for my employment.
As the months and next 2 years rolled by, I feel a little sad removing decorations and packing them away to take home. There is a sadness to leaving a company and coworkers I have known for nearly a decade. They have seen me get married, go through two pregnancies and become a mom. We have endured a lot of changes together and weathered layoffs, seeing many of our colleagues around the company not fair as well as we have.
What I can reflect on now is the fact that I knew this job was not for me many, many years ago but the flexibility and working remotely to be home with my girls was enough to make me stay. My boss and my coworkers were also a factor. When you search for a job, there are many facets of the work environment that matter in addition to salary. Who you work with and your work environment matter a great deal. In a job interview, I always remember that I am interviewing “them” also. Would I like to work for them? Is the environment clean? Is the position supported by clean, ample work space? Are the technology specs and equipment available to do the job? Is there a kitchen for staff use? Is there parking or will I have to pay to park in a lot and walk several blocks to work? How is the commute? How is the time off and benefits package?
We spend 150 hours per month at work. We spend 1,950 hours a year (37.5 hours per week) at our FT jobs. Many people work 50+ work weeks. Where we work and who we work for/with is so important.
I have been lucky to work with wonderful colleagues. While I am saying goodbye to this chapter of my professional life, I am also relieved. Relieved to be freeing myself from a job that is static, that has no upward path. I worked it until it no longer worked for me.
Each of us has a path to define. I am looking forward to my new chapter and a fresh 2019.