Monday, July 31, 2017

Time Management

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If you are not Austrian, nor have ever worked in Austria, you might be surprised to learn that Fridays are not considered "full" working days here...unofficially, that is. Any place that has office hours (banks, municipal offices, insurance companies, you name it) is generally not open for business after 2 p.m. max on Friday afternoons. Unless you work in the service industry or in shifts, many companies have flexitime and your weekend is likely to start at 3 p.m. ish, or even earlier.
Problem is, that until now, I had never worked at this time of "normal Austrian company". My first employer, Coma HQ, was Japanese and it was a civil service type environment where we literally had paper punch cards and to obey set times. If you punched in one minute late, it showed up red, rather than black on the card, and you were expected to apologise. If you were Japanese, that apology needed to be accompanied by a humble bow.
My second employer, the Firm, was an American corporation and our working hours were stated in our agreement: 9-6, Mondays to Fridays. We did not have a punch or system that monitored our presence (although I am sure that type of data is recorded in the backend). During my first 5 years I hardly ever left the office earlier than 6 p.m. on Fridays and if I did, I felt slightly guilty and quite naughty.
Now, at the tender age of 45, I seem to finally have joined the majority of Austrian office workers and enjoy early starts into the weekend. The deal for me at HN is 40 hours, overtime not being paid and time not being recorded (again, it likely is tracked somewhere), but how you divide your working time is up to you. The colleagues in my room are early birds who make it to the office around 7:30 and accordingly leave around 3:30 p.m. I find it hard to shake off my 9-ish arrival routine, plus these days getting my pre-work Starbucks fix involves a little detour and thus don't get in that much earlier than I used to at the Firm. Accumulating time to be able to leave early on Fridays, guilt-free, definitely is an incentive, though. On Fridays, the office is more or less deserted as everyone seems to work from home (at least in summer) on that day of the week that is supposed to be "no meeting day". Suits me fine.


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