Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The view from the desk

I started writing a list of reasons that I love law school, because even thinking about the study that I should be doing in the hours that I’m not at work makes me excited. The excitement wanes when it comes to sitting down and actually doing it, but I find it invigorating.

Part of me wonders whether it’s law, or study, that I love so much. I’m hoping the former, because continually studying is not what I want to do or who I want to be. And part of the reason I love this course is because it’s a clear pathway out of where I am, and toward somewhere that, I think, I want to be. I think. I hope it’s not the pathway that I’m attracted to, because I know that that’s the way I operate.

My list of reasons soon degenerated into a cloud of gripes about work, though. Or, the public service. Working for the public service, because it’s the polar opposite of studying law.

For the first time since starting full time work, I have to concentrate and think about something other than how slow time can actually be, or how to control myself enough to not run screaming out of meetings discussing how under-resourced we are, for all the work we’re doing. The hardest thing about my job is maintaining the illusion of not being completely alienated and frustrated, to the point of tears.

At uni, I have to re-read to understand, not re-hash and ‘research’ by googling and compiling into new documents that will sit for so long that by the time they are to be revisited, they must be revised.

Work requires effort, to the extent that it requires me to consciously will myself to open documents, fiddling on the edges knowing they’re not going anywhere. The effort is in gritting my teeth reading corporate bulletin board notices about new coffee machines on level x, awards for inspiring people and hour long sessions on the new system for booking vehicles and respect in the workplace. It’s the same people who turn up to every information session offered, the same people that are visibly affronted when the catering is below par. Who have ongoing positions and have been working here for 15 years. We have our priorities right, here in the public service.

I understand that creating a respectful environment is important, that recognising and rewarding good leadership and management is what creates a culture of good work. But there has to be work alongside it, to be facilitated by the organisation. There have to be flexible work practices to enable people to work, not an organisation to enable flexible work practices.

Maybe a flurry of activity and celebration is needed to kickstart a culture change. But the culture change must be to facilitate a workplace that retains good people, who are skilled and talented, not those who thrive on morning teas and starting work at 10:30.

I am not naïve, and I am not lazy. I accept that work is not interesting all of the time, or fun, or inspiring, even for a reason. I am happy to slog, to work long hours, to be bored and suck it up when it has to be done. I am not happy to settle down and embrace the process, for the sake of the process, and celebrate it.

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