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Apr 3, 2015

Are you allergic to offices?


I’ve written a couple of guest blogs for Chris but realise that I never actually introduced myself, so I thought it might be worth doing so seeing as hopefully you’ll be hearing a bit more from me in the coming months.
My name’s Ciara, I’m 24 and although I believe my job title is officially ‘research assistant’, I don’t think I’ve assisted in much research for Chris so far. I’ve mostly been desperately trying to keep up with and understand what on earth this whole ‘workplace conversation’ is all about.
Despite having mostly earned through teaching, writing and editing (from the comfort of tracksuit bottoms), I still associated ‘workplace’ with ‘office’.
My only experience of office work was the seemingly interminable half term holidays spent doing the pay-roll in my dad’s office. Anyway, it turned out early on that I was pretty good at this (I should really have ‘speedy envelope stuffing’ under the ‘skills’ section of my sparse CV) and the tasks that I had until Friday to complete, were usually in the bag by Wednesday lunchtime. What can I say – nimble fingers. Anyway, I asked the manager what needed doing next. I was told to ‘do it slower next time’ and spent the rest of the weeks opening post (another dubious talent) and becoming really really good at Snake on my Nokia 3310 until 5pm would roll around and I could get far, far away.
The highlight of my time there was the uproar in the admin department when a starry-eyed young new accountant tried to streamline the invoicing process. Such was the horror of change that I almost expected to see locusts raining from the heavens.
Suffice it to say, since the age of 15 whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up I said ‘I don’t know – something that doesn’t involve being in an office’.
As far as I was concerned, offices were boring, rigid, impersonal and really bloody inefficient.
When Chris first approached me about working with him I confessed that I wasn’t really ‘into’ workplaces – I certainly didn’t have one and I definitely didn’t want one. But apparently that’s what’s he was looking for – a view from the uninitiated, a ‘millenial’*.  I mostly dispute this label because I’ve never used Tinder, I’m scared of my iPhone and I don’t know what a flat white is – but I was born in 1990 so I’ll just go with it. So that’s what I’ll be doing – forgive me when I don’t know the lingo, when I state the obvious and when the inevitably huge gaps in my knowledge are exposed. I’ll say now that any feedback or comments will always be very welcome, I’m here to learn!
I hope that I can offer some sort of explanation for the similarly clueless but interested. Anecdotally, at least, I know that loads of people my age are totally switched off by the idea of work as our grandparents knew it; I’m not alone in being allergic to offices and what they represent.
As a disabled person, as a woman and as a creative teetering the introvert/extrovert line, I’m intrigued by the idea of a style of work and workplace that will – for want of a better word – work for me. From what I understand, that’s what the Workplace Conversation is all about: putting the ‘human’ into Human Resources and Facility Management.
There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by re-examining work, especially in our current employment crisis while riding the crest of the technological revolution. So let’s see what happens.
To kick things off, I’ve decided to embark on the perhaps foolhardy mission of locating and reading every single one Chris’s blog posts from the last 8 years – so you don’t have to. I’ll see you back here a hopefully more enlightened, and possibly more confused, woman – stay tuned!

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