Today I was thinking about my earliest office experiences.
I had come straight from University into a full-blown recession. Permanent jobs were scarce. Especially if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, and hadn’t walked out of a top-seeded University with a First – which was me to a T.
After sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and getting depressed at having to live under my parents roof again (no more heady hedonistic stumbling home drunk on 50p shots at the student bar), I signed up with some agencies and got a contract at a local firm for two weeks, helping them with their filing.
I remember being so nervous on my first day, that apart from nodding when expected, I didn’t ask a single question, I didn’t speak to anyone, I didn’t even go to the loo til lunchtime, I just kept my head down and legs crossed, filing I don’t know what diligently for seven and a half hours (with one miserable thirty minute break, eating a soggy sandwich alone), and headed home the minute the clock hit 5 pm.
Looking back, I’m not sure if I came across as nervous, or just aloof. I certainly didn’t make any effort with anyone around me. I was far too scared to actually look up from my filing and even attempt to make eye contact. And no-one there made an effort to chat to me either. Maybe it just wasn’t a chatty office.
But next time you have a newbie join you, whether it’s just for a day on work experience, a couple of weeks doing the grotty jobs everyone else has been avoiding, or whether they’re starting their first ‘proper’ job, maybe take five minutes to say hello and ask them how their day is going. It might not seem like much to you, but I promise you, I’d probably still remember if someone had made that effort with me on my first day in my first office.