Are You Happy At Work?

Most of us spend a vast amount of our life working. How many of us are happy at work? Are you doing it day in and day out on a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy but you need to because someone needs to pay the bill?

I have worked for decades. There are moments when I enjoy what I am doing. Majority of the time, I don’t. Looking back in all the years of working, I wish I could put more emphasis on looking for a role that makes me happy at work. Rather than focusing on job security.

Take me as an example. My last role was horrible. My career back then was stagnant. I was not learning and hence, not growing. The team was not supportive. I just did not enjoy my work at all. I left in the end. Never look back.

My current role is very challenging and demanding. Long working hours. Lots of stakeholders. But I enjoy the work. I don’t have anyone that I dislike interacting with on a daily basis (unlike my last role). The only time I feel unhappy at work is when I let myself down, when I knew I could do much better but I did not, and when I felt humiliated by my own mistakes.

But that is a good problem to have. It is not about falling. But how fast one is able to get back up.

The key to happiness at work, I believe, has got to do with the people around you. Are they cooperative? Are they supportive? Are they good people to be with?

And when you are surrounded with good people, naturally, you are happy. Bottom line is, when you are surrounded with not so good people, do yourself a favor, find another job or role and do something else. Life is short. There is no point in dwelling onto the negative vibe.

Is Liking What We Get A Resignation To Life Or The Key To Contentment?

My favorite writer Doris Lessing once wrote: We learn to like what we get.  Seven simple words so accurately describe our current state of affair, in so many different dimensions.  But yet when I shared this revelation with a friend, her immediate response was: That’s called resignation to life.  Such is the beauty of literature.  It means different things to different people.

At times I ponder, if I am to hold firm to what I believe as a baseline to my quality of life and refuse to make compromises, is this a good virtue?  Or am I being inflexible?  After all, many people around me have been putting up with what they see as their accepted daily routines, what I may see as life could have been better and does not have to be this way.

Traditional wisdom tells us that there are things we cannot change, or cost too much to change.  To that extend, I often accept what comes my way, for the time being, and at the back of my mind dream of what better life could be like.  Who knows?  Doors of opportunity may open in the future if I have some ideas on what these doors may look like in the first place.

Once again, I have to relocate to a new office location.  And I think I have good reasons to dislike this recent change.  One may observe that this is a classic case of resistance to change.  For someone who has in the span of three years reported to seven different direct bosses, relocated three times – four if you count being stuffed inside a small meeting room for months as one location – I am not that resistance to change.

Yet, a part of me wishes things to stay as they are used to be.  Another part of me is aware that what I am now having is not ideal.  Maybe that is why change is hard.  Because we learn to like what we get.

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Given a choice, I would want to work where Cynthia works.  It saves on traveling time for I prefer to drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the evening – regardless of where our workplaces are – by car.  Time is precious.  Any added minute to the daily traveling time is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Last year, I was relocated to a different part of town, away from the central business district.  The distance was still manageable, though not desirable.  As I settled down in my new area, I began to enjoy the surrounding environment.  The national library is nearby, eating places are not as crowded, and there are shopping malls and cinemas close to my office building.

This year, there is another relocation, somewhere far away from the central business district.  Very far indeed.

If you were to ask me today: Would you choose a job that requires you to travel to a place near to the airport every working day?  The answer is a straight no.  But I learn to like – or I think I like – what I do daily.  Besides, bonus payout will be in March, my share options will be matured in September, I am not going anywhere in the near future, am I?

Am I?

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One morning, I drove to my new office sorting out the car park application while familiarizing myself with the area, I could not help but to admire the smooth traffic to work, the blue sky and the green field and the sound of serenity – of the fountains and of the breeze.  There were hardly anybody walking on the streets, hardly any car drove by.  One man walked pass me with a cup of coffee and I had the urge to stop him and ask where he got it from in this remote area.  And suddenly it hit me: Why do people put up with the stress of working in the central business district?  The noise, the crowd, the pollution, and more.  Why do I put up with the traffic jam on the CTE highway every day?

One afternoon, as I drove out of my home, I looked at the office buildings nearby, I could not help but ask: How about working somewhere near where I live for a change?  Maybe I should visualize that as one of my doors of opportunity.

I mean, why not?

$50 No Show Fine

If you don't show up at your desk, you will be fined!

Avid readers may recall my morning ritual of desk booking at work.  3 months have passed and the ritual stays more or less the same.  Except more and more of our colleagues are moving into our building.  Seats become a scarce resource.  Good seats in especially.  And scarce resource always drive bizarre human behaviors, much like what our history tells us.  Bosses ask the subordinates to book the desks for the entire team (we can only book our desks online up to one week in advance).  Some occupy the seats establishing the first-come-first-take rule.  Some bring the company laptops home and book the seats in early morning, in wee hours.  Wow!  It’s just a seat you know!

Colleagues often ask me why I choose to sit in different seats almost every day.  Well, given a choice, I would love to be stationary somewhere.  But since it has never come across my mind that I have to work hard to book “my favorite seat”, I don’t bother.

Previously, there is a S$5 fine if we don’t show up at the desk that we book (note: no one cares if we show up at work but rather at the desk).  That doesn’t seem to work.  On paper, every day is a full house.  In reality, it is hardly so.  Hence recently, the fine is increased to S$50.  That raises some eyebrows of course.

If there is one thing history tells us, we human beings are creative in finding ways to get around the system.  Increasingly, we are seeing seats being released in the very morning.  But for those who have already booked a crappy seat one week ago or have decided to work from home because there is no seat available, how does it matter?