Thursday, September 14, 2006

WAH, not OOF (a CSG's $.02)

"WAH" stands for "working at home." If I were a true Microsoftie, I'd call it "OOF," which means "out of facilities" and was apparently begun by Bill himself years ago.

This morning my alarm went off at the reasonable and customary hour of 7 AM. Normally I jump out of bed and turn off my alarm at the same time; waking up and greeting the day (what my husband calls "change of state") have never been issues for me. But this morning I really, really, really didn't want to spend another eight hours in the silence of my office, with only the dull drone of the building's ventilation system keeping me awake... or rather, to putting me to sleep.

Last week my boss informed me that CSGs ("contingent staffing group," that is, contractors -- everything at Microsoft, it seems, is expressed by 3-letter acronyms!) aren't supposed to attend any meetings. ANY meetings. In other words, CSGs are definitely NOT part of the team, not included, not valued. Is that bizarre, or what? How on earth am I supposed to work in such a complete vacuum? I came from an environment where I oversaw entire projects and managed entire teams, and in my experience teamwork has been everything. I believe that ultimately, the success or failure of a product depends on the degree to which the people consider themselves part of a team and work as a team. Everything else aside, teamwork is what determines a project's success. And now I'm essentially being told that, as a CSG, I am explicitely NOT a part of the team. It throws me, to say the least.

As I sat on the edge of the bed this morning, those are the thoughts that went through my head. And I decided not to go into the office. I didn't decide not to work; I like to work. But I knew I'd get more done at home, with Boo soaking up the warmth of the desk lamp, asleep against my laptop, than I'd get done in the stark silence and vast emptiness of my office. So I fired off an e-mail to my boss (Microsoftese: I "pinged" him), informing him that I'd be WAH (not OOF!)today.

And that's what I did. By 3:30, still in my jammies, I'd sent my boss the document I'd promised him, and I was able to complete a scrapbook page before dinner (and two afterwards).

At 11 PM I got e-mail from the online reading company, telling me that they definitely want me to produce 12 short video training video vignettes, and that they're still awaiting VC funding so they don't know whether they can hire me permanently or not (and, truth be told, I'm not sure I can reconcile our philosophical differences... can I be that Skinnerian/behaviorist?!). If I produce those videos I'll have to find a way to either quit Microsoft -- which I can't do without another job lined up -- or to produce the videos on the side, in my "spare time." HA!!

I'm making almost twice what I made at the non-profit I previously worked for... and yet I'd happily slash my salary for a chance to do meaningful work, to know that my work matters, to have the opportunity to be creative, to work on a team that values collaboration, to encounter some (any!) friendliness or connection (not to mention collaboration) throughout the work day.

And now, gotta "go head-down." At Microsoft it means working so hard (usually referring to coding work) that one is not to be disturbed unless it's an emergency. For me right now, it means time to go lay my head down on my pillow!

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