Story of a professional disconnection

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This little story I’m going to tell you is purely imaginary. It’s neither mine nor anybody’s in particular. But it may become ours, one day.

January 2009 :Back to the office after a few days off. I take five minutes to send my greetings to all my friends. Nothing’s like Facebook to do that. I realize that the access is blocked. It doesn’t matter, I can live without facebook at work. Finally I decide to use email but I take care not to use my corporate email but my personal one, through the webmail.

February  2009 : bad news, linkedIn is blocked too. I have to hire two new people this month…awkward. I think that my colleague Rob, who is a salesperson, will be very angry. There’s no one like him to take the most of a network to pass the more insuperable barriers to get in touch with the right people and close incredible deals. He doesn’t have the best results in the company just by luck. I’m sure he must be in a very bad mood.

March 2009 : I’ve heard that the sparks really flew during the individual evaluation meetings. Robert was accused of dilettantism. That’s true that he had to do all his network things in the evening at home since linkedIn is blocked…so he spent hours waiting for the workday to end. I can understand how frustrated he is. The context is difficult and he feels like his employer is playing against him.
April 2009 : Impossible to find a meeting room on my floor and it’s really starting to get me out of my nerves. I can’t undersand why it started a weeks ago. We are not more that before, the activity is rather decreasing… I have to investigate.

May 2009 : They fired Jenny because she used to send too much personal emails at work. Ok…she’s been stupid : she should have used her personal account. A had a great idea when I decided not to use my professional account for my greetings. It’s a pity because she was a really hard working girl. To think her boss used to say she was a wonderful girl because he used to answer to her professional emails everytime, would it be late at night or on weej ends. Her colleagues used to call her “Miss Blackberry’. I’ve heard that when she packed her things she only said one word. “Ungrateful”. Many didn’t understand why.

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June 2009 : Now I understant what’s happening with the meeting room. It’s the thirty-years-old people from the “strategic” project at the HR dept who monopilize it. I was tols that they used to make things in a Facebook group. Now they can’t use it anymore they had to find another way of getting things done. And those who are not in our building have to cross the city to attend those meetings. No I know why their project is being more and more delayed. In the other hand I can’t understand how people can use FB for professional purposes. I don’t trust it. Maybe I’m too alod. But since they didn’t have the same kind of tool on the intranet they tried to do things with what was availalble.

July 2009 : Memorandum : we all have to increase productivity. All access are blocked and rights will be granted according to hierarchical positions. First effect : my office manager spends her time at the SNCF store (french railroads) to organize all the team’s travels. She aked me to hire an assistant for her. Even so I asked for her connection to be restored for “business needs”. As to my trainee in charge of business intelligence I was told not to even think about getting a wide access for him : he’s nothing but a trainee. I realized this guy is a true “Y” : very ressourcefful. He brought his own laptop and connects to the free wifi of the café next door from the office. He just had to move to a desk near the window. Marketing people are very upset : they can’t have a look at our online campaigns ! An authorization as been asked for them and it’s on his way : once they boss has approved it, it will be send to the HR dept, then to the IT dept…and if everyone is ok, then to our headquarters in London.

August 2009 : Robert is depressed. He’s pacing angrily up and down all day long and works hard at night. His wife can’t santd it anymore and want to leave him. To cap it all, his bosses reprimanded him because he didn’t answer to his very important email yesterday. It was 10 PM and he was at the theatre with his wife to patch things up.
September 2009 : Summoning from the HR people. A personnal call from the office ? Humm…Oh yes. Two minutes to tell my mife I wouldn’t be able to pick up the kids at school because of a late meeting. Yes sir, I know I did wrong, it’s bad for productivity. Warning. Whatever…from now all incoming or outgoing call will have to go through a switchboard operator who’ll assess how legitimate it is.

October 2009 : Strange feeling. Always overwhelmed but getting nothing done. It’s like we spend our days getting round all these interdictions. Without net and phone things are getting hard. Productivity and security they say. All the trainees are on their iphone, some bring their own laptop and use a 3G connections. Last year I would have make them toe the line. Now I let them do and it makes me smile. Maybe I should ask them for advice to buy useful things…

November 2009 : Feeling old and stupid. “Old” people in the workplace feel blocked, frustrated because they feel they are treated like kids. And the young, according to what I heard, have set up a kind of parralel intranet. 3G keys, personal laptops, wifis from bars and hotel around our building. Two resignations. Leaving to startups. I took some news and they feel very happy, they are free to do what they want provided they achieve their objectives. Nobody behind their back all day long. As for our trainees, contrary to the years before, they accept less and less the job offer we make to them at the end of their internship.

December 2009 : This year’s results are bad. People feel dispirited. We have to focus on what matters and not spread ourserlves. We give the corporate blackberries back. Doesn’t matter…I have my personal iPhone. What is sure is that we don’t communicate anymore. No communication between us, and even less with the world outside. No sure we tackled problems the right way. Seems we put a lot of hindrances to fight against a few deviances. Is the remedy worse than the disease ? Humanly speaking, yes ! As for productivity…I don’t kow. I must not be to narrow minded… But I’m sure it did not improve many things.

January 2010 : I’m thinking about the past year. My office is a bunker. Disconnected from the world. Not sure I makes me work more. Or better. I’ve heard some companies chose another way. Are they stupid ? Unconscious ? Or are we wrong and didn’t brought the right answer to what seemed to be more than a behavioral issue ? I can see a pigeon on my window ledge. Is it hard to tame a homing pigeon ? To send to my boss, whom I don’t see anymore and have no mean to contact, a message. Only a few lines “I’m fed up…just let me do my job”.

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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