Friday Five - Things you don't realise you need to know about a new job

Published October 14, 2011

My first week at my new job has been and gone, and it was mostly alright. I mean there was this, of course:

Tweet from mrschristine: “May have been initiation or breaking me in gently, but have spent ALL day filing. Several papercuts later, I think I’m still on for Day 2.”

…and that did go on for a couple of days, but I am not really complaining. It’s all good.

On my first day, I was pondering some of the things that could really make a difference to your experience at an (office) job, but things you don’t get to know about until you start. Here’s five of them!

  1. Lunch. It’s likely to be an hour, that much you’ll already know. But when do you take it - is there a choice? Do you have to cover other people? Is there anything to do around the office? Can you eat at your desk? Can you use the computers for non-work things? All these need to be answered before you start packing your sandwiches.
  2. Toilets. I’m sure I’m not the only person who judges a place on it’s toilets. It can make or break a restaurant experience for me. So why should there be any difference in an office? If you’re lucky, you get a tour of your workplace before you begin. You may even be introduced to some of the people (always thought this unnecessary if you don’t even know you’re getting the job yet), but the ladies? That’s important too.
  3. Phones. From the simplest things, such as what kind of ring the phones in the office have, to the more complex issues such as whether people answer each others phones, and what the etiquette is for taking messages.
  4. Chairs. What is your chair going to be like? It’s kinda tricky to ask for a new chair in your first week, so is it going to hurt your back and more importantly, does it squeak? (Mine does.)
  5. Stationery. What’s the process in getting some? Are you allowed to take what you want or does someone hold the key to the all-important cupboard? I was allowed a good proper raid on the stationery cupboard on my first day, it was like all my Christmasses had come at once.

I’m pondering whether any of these topics would be appropriate to ask during an interview. At the end, you are usually asked if you have any questions. Could I ask about the stationery process then, rather than holidays and/or parking? Then we could avoid this situation:

Tweet from mrschristine: “Since when do post-it notes come in a concertina fashion? Every other note I wrote was upside down.”

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