Monday, March 12, 2007

Office Dress Code

Ever since I was a little kid my parents have told me to take pride in my appearance. Now don’t get me wrong they have never said to be vain just to make sure you take care of yourself. By that I mean wearing clothing colors that match, and are clean and pressed(ironed) and so on.

I got my second job in September 98 working at the bay. This job required me to be in front of customers and dress in a business casual way. However, I quickly found that business casual is a very broad term and it is very difficult to figure out just what it means. For me it meant wearing dress pants and a collard shirt with a tie. For other people it meant grabbing whichever piece of clothing off the floor of their bedroom that smelt the least bad. We had this one manager who would come in wearing just about the ugliest sweaters I have ever seen. His shoes were disgusting also. The sweaters I could live with but since we did work in the shoe department I took it upon my self to convince him to upgrade his footwear. Eventually these abuses of the dress code lead to mandatory uniforms for all employees. When I first heard about the uniforms I was pissed. I had spent all this money on dress clothes and now they were going to be dressing us up as waiters. But I got used to it.

Not long after the uniforms were instituted I got my first real fulltime job after college. This was a very interesting case of what is or is not appropriate for work. On the one hand it was just a couple of programming guys sitting around in a room writing computer code. So it doesn’t really matter what you look like. I did live close enough to the office so that if I ever was sent out to see a client I could have gone home and changed. On the other hand this is still a place I worked and I think some minimal standards should be in place. Generally speaking, and without insulting my former co-workers I would say I was usually the best dressed person in the office.

Then I got a job working on site at Microsoft. This is a very strange case. There are tech people like myself, but there were also sales people. There was a marked difference in dress between the two. While I have no interest in being a sales person I found what they were wearing looked better and as such I dress closer to there style. Not quite on par because there is no way that I was going to wear a full suit just to sit at a desk and write code.

That brings me to now. I work out of my company’s head office in downtown Toronto. And I am still trying to figure out what is or is not appropriate. One the one hand I am still a tech guy so my interaction with the clients is slim. On the other hand the clients do come into our offices sometimes and they could see the tech people as well as the salesmen. As such I think we all should at least try to look professional. I have decided for the most part to wear cotton (khaki) pants that look like dress pants. I wear dress shirts but no tie. I also occasionally wear dressy looking sweaters. For shoes I wear dress or dress/casual shoes – NO RUNNERS. Is this correct? Hell if I know but it is what I will keep wearing until someone tells me different or I get a promotion.

That’s it…

Next Week
A very technical post about computing technologies.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Good bye Micorsoft ...

Well, its about time i addressed this. I no longer work on site at Microsoft. This is a difficult post to write because it has taken a long time to set in.

Lets start as the beginning.
As many of you know one of the main reasons i started writing this blog is because i had a major life changing event happen a little over 3 months ago. Well, maybe life changing is an exaggeration but i did get a new job. I work for a company called Wunderman. They are a advertising and consulting company. Microsoft is a client of theirs and i was initially hired to work on site at MS. Well after 3 months there MS has decided that there is not enough work available to warrant my presence. As such i no longer work at Microsoft. I found this out when i was called into a meeting a Wunderman head office downtown 2 weeks ago.

To say it came as a shock would be a huge understatement. At first i thought, well this really sucks ass, now i am out of a job. However, they explained to me quickly that i was not being fired i was merly being transferred to another account. Actually technically speaking i have been transferred to multiple accounts. I work out of the head office now. It is located at 60 bloor street west. I am going to be doing data work on multiple accounts. So far i have done stuff for Ford and Wyeth. But in the future i am going to be working on Jaguar/Land Rover, Royal Canadian Mint, and a bunch of other things i can't remember right now.

It has been a good two weeks, it was just a little difficult to get over the shock. Truth be told i don't really blame MS for deciding that my services were no longer needed. A lot of the time i really didn't have anything to do and i was just sitting around. I guess transition is the nature of consulting work.

There are aspects of working at MS that i do miss though. Mainly my Wunderman co-workers there. They are all good people. There were a group of about 4-8 who had lunch together almost every day. And since we work out of different locations now the times when we see each other will be few and far between. I will also miss the fully stocked fridge the designer coffee and the company subsidized cafeteria where I could get a fulling lunch for around $3.50.

At the same time there are things about working at MS that i don't miss at all. Chief among them is the commute. When i first took the job I didn't truly appreciate just how far away Mississauga is from Scarborough. It was costing me a small fortune to work there. January was my first full and complete month at MS (I had about a week and a half off in December). In that month i spent $330 on gas plus another $65 on the 407etr. If you do the math that is pretty dam close to 400 bones on transportation cost for one month. And this is before the gas prices went crazy, i shudder to think what i would have spent in gas these last 2 weeks if I was driving to MS. Now i just bought a ttc metro pass for $98.75 for march and i would be surprised if i spend a half tank of gas a week driving back and forth to the subway. From my house to the parking lot at MS it was approx. 50km. From my house to the parking lot at the subway it is approx 10km. So again if you do the math. In a week i now do about 100km going downtown as opposed to the about 500km that i was doing before. My car is already at 165k so so this savings is substantial for me. Working downtown should save me at least $200 a month on gas or more, plus less wear and tear on my car and less oil changes. It is kind of like getting a raise.

The work downtown is essentially the same as the work at MS. The only difference is i have less toys to play with. I use SQL server 2000 instead of 2005, office 2003 instead of 2007, and XP instead of Vista. Which kinda sucks because one of the reasons i took the job in the first place is to get MS credentials. But ultimately i guess it won't make that big of a difference. I don't think companies everywhere upgrade and change their systems just because MS decides to put out a new product. I think the skills i am learning should still be relevant to the market at what ever point i decide to leave Wunderman.

So i guess that is it. So far so good. While there are things i miss there are other things i don't miss. I will have to wait and see how this new transition works out for me.