Friday 18 March 2005

Sometimes you fall into the arms of no-one at all

I don't talk about work all that often here. It's not because I'm especially worried about getting the sack (although we all know it happens, right?). It's mainly because it's dull. It would be boring for me to write about it, and boring for you to read about it. I always seem to have had one of those jobs that is really hard to explain. At one point, I resorted drawing a picture whilst trying to explain to my dad what it is that I do... needless to say, he didn't get it, and was now actually exchanging amused looks with C. when he thought I couldn't see. Grrr. Work has been on my mind somewhat over the last few weeks, so I thought I'd unburden myself. I hope you don't mind. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

I was outsourced last May, and left a big UK company to work for a giant global IT company. I say I left, but as is the way of these things, actually very little changed: I sit in the same desk, work with the same people and do more or less the same job. Plus ca change. Except things DO change. Where once I was an in-house resource, now I am an external cost. I wasn't free before - far from it - but now my cost is a very visible per diem charge on every project I work on. Gradually, over the months, I have come to be regarded by my old employer as more of a necessary evil than a valued contributer. My new employer, meanwhile, is quite happy to have me sitting in the same role reeling them in £thousands a year with very few overheads. They don't have to worry about providing me with an office or a desk, and I am gainfully billing 37 hours a week, every week.

Old Company is currently finalising its budgets for their new financial year. It is becoming clear that they are looking to cut me out. They're trying to keep it under their hats, but they want to save the money. It's not as though there won't be the work for me to do, but these budgets are always an act of fantasy, with figures plucked out of a hat and then cut in half, and then halved again. They need to make the savings where they can. That's okay by me as they have been driving me mad, and I have been looking to escape for a while now. The secrecy is irritating though, and I am fighting the urge to succomb to paranoia and assume it is because they think I'm shit. I am not shit. It creates uncertainty though. The new financial year starts on 1st April - in two weeks time. It is entirely possible that I could be told they only want to use me two days a week with no time to find something else to fill the other three days. Screw them.

For my part, I welcomed the outsource as it opened a world of opportunities that were never going to be there for me if I stayed where I was: a UK Retailer does not have the same number of IT roles around the place as a global technology company. I haven't managed to take advantage of this yet, but I will. Where I am is undeniably comfortable, from a purely practical point of view: my current desk is about 10 minutes drive away from my house, I sleep in my own bed every night and I get to cook my own tea with my girlfriend and watch TV on my sofa and stuff like that - stuff that really adds quality to your life. A change in role will mean a change in lifestyle, as I will have to do a lot more travelling to wherever the work happens to be. This is something I am prepared to do. Unlike many of my colleagues who were outsourced, I don't have an emotional attachment to the Old Company (in many cases brought on by 20-odd years service), I don't have kids in school and generally have a bit more flexibility.

So far so dull.

The thing that is making this situation especially wearing is that New Company is going through one of those periods of uncertainty that most companies tend to go through. There is some sort of restructuring going on, and I am being moved from one meaningless grouping to another, all carried out in the name of "getting closer to the customer" or "getting the right skills to the right place at the right time" or some such generic management nonsense. I've been told about it on conference calls, webcasts, emails, newsletters and presentations... but I still have no real idea what it means for me. In addition to this (and I think it is a different set of sweeping changes), a huge swathe of the UK part of New Company has also been put onto consultation - which basically means that there are going to be organisational changes that may lead to a change in the basic terms and conditions of my employment. Cutting through the crap and non-communication, this means that people will be made redundant. I don't believe that this will affect me, and I'm told that I have skills that New Company is short of, but at the moment they are only telling us the stuff that they are legally obliged to i.e. very little.

It's all quite wearing. I hadn't realised how much until yesterday, when I found myself extremely cheesed off with the whole situation: Old Company scheming to stop paying for me at three times the rate they used to pay me when they employed me, and New Company on the cusp of making changes that might REALLY affect me (possibly in a good way) but that they aren't telling me about.

Good job I work to live, rather than the other way around eh? All I want from a job is a decent wage and intellectual stimulation. I look at some of these high achieving business types who aren't much older than I am, and much though I'd love their salaries, I really don't think I'd want their life.

Sorry if this has been dull - I just wanted to vent it out somewhere.... blogging can be quite therapeutic, can't it?

Anything good happening in your life?


I've added a couple of new sites to my blogroll this week. Some are completely new to me, and others I have been reading on and off for a few months. Have a look - some of them are Nottingham based (discovered mainly thanks to Mike and Ben), and they're all good stuff.

troubled diva - Mike is fresh from his nomination in the Bloggies, but has turned his attention to matters rather closer to home:

"Desperate times call for drastic measures. The "incipient" pot belly which has dogged me since the end of the 1990s can no longer be passed off as a temporary swelling, and I can no longer cling to the delusion that I somehow possess a "natural" 32-inch waist. Those smart Hugo Boss "going out in" trousers which I bought in December, with the more "classic" higher waist? I've worn them twice. The physical discomfort I could cope with, but as for the Friar Tuck/Figure 3 profile: one can only spend so many hours clenching one's abdomen without risking a nasty rupture. Sure, the fashionably low-slung bum cleavage look has served me well for the past four years, but I sense a sea change in the air. Adapt and survive, and all that."

Danger! High Postage - Phil has just had a temporary transfer to Nottingham blogging from Birmingham and is raging about Robert Kilroy-Silk:

"I received a press release from Veritas today, outlining their new policiespolicy. What shocked me was not what the shallow, offensive bigotry it contained, but the fact that the attached word document was written in the most evil font of all - Times New Roman."

Silent Words Speak Loudest - apart from rounding up what's new in the blogosphere (cough! cough! good idea that), Ben has spotted some graffiti and decided to wax all lyrical:

"[*meta-alert!*] Blogging's a bit like graffiti. Regardless of protestations to the contrary, the reason bloggers put their words up online rather than simply keep a private diary is so that they're publically visible. The difference is that, unlike graffiti, blogging's legal, though what you say can still get you into trouble."

World of Flash - Flash likes Nik Kershaw, loves his iPod, has a certain way of labelling his blog posts and works in the town of my birth. What's not to like?

"I am a slave to my comments. When I don't receive any I want to stamp up & down, I want to demand why you don't love me anymore. Luckily enough, I do still hold onto some semblance of sanity & it quickly passes. When I recently had a post with 10 comments I was overjoyed, but I immediately set myself new targets. Never enough, y'see."

Well. We can all relate to that.

Go lookee.

(I still love the rest of you, by the way. I think perhaps I should do a round-up of all my regular reads.... you'd love to read about yourselves, wouldn't you? You love it!)

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