The new workplace: hours

Oh dear.

It has not been a good week for moral.  Let me summarize:

  • There are flexible hours.  The start time is between 8:00 and 8:30, and the end time is between 5 and 5:30.
    “The aim is to combine the employee’s right to manage their time freely with respect to their responsibility to a full workday.”
  • One hour for lunch, between 1:30 and 3:30.  Feel free to pass out from hunger before then.  The cafeteria will be closed until 1:30.  Vending machines only sell junk food.
  • Employee work time is calculated as the time between swiping-in and swiping-out of your building.
  • Since you will be considered to be working if you are inside the building, you must be in the building between the times stated above.  That is, you must enter the building between 8:00 and 8:30, and must not leave before 5:00.  Since there is no overtime, you should probably therefore leave before 5:30.
  • Any time you do not follow the above rules, an “incident” will be recorded.
  • Working in other building in the campus does not constitute “working” unless you have a “good cause”.
  • You are allowed 30 minutes a day outside your building.  Any longer is considered an “incident”.
  • All “incidents” are logged in “the system”, and employees must attend to each one and provide justification for their absence.

The main driver for this is stated as:

[The new workplace]  represents the social model that [the company] wants for their employees, which enables greater compatibility between work and personal life. …. For [the company], it is important that all the benefits of [the new workplace] have a positive impact on our employees, customers, suppliers,
shareholders and investors.

Or, put another way:

We want you to have a healthy work/life balance.  And even better, we have determined what that balance will be for you, and we are going to make damn sure you get it, whether it works for you or not.

Or, perhaps this:

To make sure that you get balance in your life, we will be tracking and penalizing you if you don’t follow our plan, because we don’t think you can be trusted to make the right decision for yourself in this whole  “work/life balance” thing.  Actually, we think that because we under-pay you, you would probably slack off and work less.

Doesn’t that sound a bit like “this is going to hurt me more than you”?

The new workplace: food

This post was drafted 23rd March, 2010, when I was living in Spain and working in the brand new campus built by the parent company. I’ve since relocated, and the parent company sold the company I worked for, who have since relocated out of the campus into another location. The rules below are no longer in effect.


Perhaps the biggest disappointed have been the rules regarding food.

Although I haven’t been able to find an official document, the following are the rules:

  • The cafeteria is not open outside the hours of 1:30 and 3:30
  • There are no kitchens any where else in any buildings.  No microwaves, no kettles, no sinks.
  • Coffee is only available from vending machines, and it is not very good terrible.
  • There is no tea.
  • There is no hot water to make your own tea.
  • You are not allowed to eat at your desk
  • You are not allowed to eat within the campus, but you are encouraged to enjoy the common green areas, which include lovely landscaping, ponds, plants and so on.  But only for a total of 30 minutes a day (see previous post)
  • You are not allowed to bring your own food into the cafeteria.
  • Cafeteria meals are a choice between 3 styles, and 2 sizes.  Large size is 7€, small size is 5€.
  • You can opt for a novation, which saves you 2€ on both sizes, and is deducted directly from your salary.

Some observations after the first couple of days:

  • The quality of the food is poor
  • The cafeteria does not have any of the sound proofing present in all the other buildings, so the result of thousands of people all eating within the alloted time is a cacophony that makes dining unpleasant.
  • People are bringing in their own food, and eating it in the car park. A bunch of these people were fired, and people stopped doing this.
  • People are driving out to the local neighborhoods and scoffing a sandwich and rushing back so as not to be penalised for being late.
  • Morning tea is a popular Spanish tradition, and people are now bringing in a sandwich, and standing around in the cramped vending machine vestibules.
  • People are very, very angry.  They are comparing the owner of the parent company to Mr Burns.