Thursday, 14 February 2008

It's just the little things...

There's something about having the title 'assistant' in any part of your job description which immediately makes those around you incredibly lazy. Everyone has their designated duties as part of their job, but equally sometimes you have to do things outside the remit of what is required. It is this that gets subordinated by others when an 'assistant', be that of a personal, team or both, is in the office. For example, common sense would dictate that if the fax machine next to your desk has run out of paper that you, sitting next to it, or noticing it, should take it upon yourself to refill it. If not for the sake of efficiency, then perhaps to save someone else the job. However, certain team members will walk to the opposite side of the office to tell an assistant about the paper situation, so that they can walk back over and complete said task when they have finished whatever they are doing (strangely, not waiting for a fax).

Then there's the water cooler and, more specifically, the paper cups that accompany it. They have run out and are, one would assume, provided by the same company that give us the water bottles. There are however entire boxes full of polystyrene cups in the storage room which, one would assume, are just as capable as holding water as their paper counterparts. They are also larger in size, and therefore, one would assume, would be better than said paper cups as they hold more water. Placing a stack of said polystyrene cups in full view of the water cooler is not enough for one team member, who has informed the assistant that there are no paper cups for the water. Do they need to be ordered, she asks rhetorically. Given my prior assumption, I assure her some will probably turn up with the next batch of water, and alert her to the polystyrene option.

Yes, but they're coffee cups (I'm told), I don't know if we need to order some water ones (she says over her shoulder while walking away).

A stationary cupboard, clearly labelled, tidied and stocked with essentials is never a simple task either. For it is the assistant who is given the task of locating required stationary for people who have not checked the stationary cupboard first, i.e. getting up, walking over to the cupboard, alerting said person to the sticker which says 'pencils', handing them the pencil, receiving the thank you, replying 'no problem'. Sometimes though a normal, run of the mill pencil isn't enough.

Oh, I wanted a refillable pencil. You know, the ones where you press then end and the lead comes out. Ahh, really? I'll have to order some. See, all we have are pencils where you sharpen the end and the lead comes out. No good? No. Didn't think they would be.

What I fail to understand is that an assistant is there to help the team with the running of the office and in this case, the studio, as well as being personal assistant to the three people in charge of everyone; those who are busy and have little time to do such things themselves. Fulfilling this part of the job is mandatory and enjoyable - I like to help, get involved and keep busy. However, one wonders if those who have the time to wait 2 days for a specific pencil to be ordered / fuss about what material cups they are drinking out of / expecting a fax so urgent that they can wait 10 minutes to tell someone else and then wait for them to get the paper for it….are they really the people the assistant should be, well, assisting? I still enjoy my job, love where I work and everything that goes on, but these people are the little irritations that seem to pop up in every office I work in.

Thankfully, are of course a minority. In fact, the above are three exceptions to the rule here; those people who make the journey to my desk for the sole reason of asking me to do something that they could do themselves, who never ask how my day's going or talk to me other than when they want something menial done. And they stick out like a mentalist in Buckingham Palace. As does the bloke wearing a red Christmas cracker style party hat in honour of Valentines Day today, although that's for purely aesthetic reasons.


pinkjellybaby said...

oh yep, it's the same here, it's stupid. I'm leaving next week and I honestly don't know what they will do becasue they're all too stupid to figure things out themselves!

Boy said...

Mwahahahaha. I hate office work. Nay, office workers. Why not just play dumb back at them?

London-Lass said...

See now that's what they dont tell you when you go for these job interviews .. they tell you about the salary, holidays, hours, etc., etc., but they never see fit to warn you that although your bosses/work colleagues look like hip, happening, pretty together, sorted people they are actually just a bunch of old women who's life will stop unless their stationery needs are fulfilled/petty office duties completed. Only the other day I found myself typing a response from the desk of one of my bosses (who is rather computer phobic) on his behalf .. you know what the response was that he asked me to type because he couldnt (for whatever reason) do it himself? The words "That's fine".

Bec said...

Today one of the non-admin people in my company walked down two flights of stairs to tell me there was no paper in her printer. I then followed her back up the two slights of stairs to the cupboard next to her office and got paper. Went over to her printer to discover a ream on the desk next to it.

She landed on the pavement outside with a quite loud thud.

AFC 30K said...

As you may remember I'm a middle manager (for my many sins). As a result I have assistants.

I honestly belive that those who abuse their assistants are insecure in their job, themselves, but ususally both. They seem to believe that by having someone to do their bidding it shows to others around that they have a position of power and should be respected; in my experience they rarely are.

If I'm really busy they yes my assistants do things for me, but normally I, and the rest of the sane managers, do not only things for themselves but also for their assistants. I make a point of making at least one drink a day for my team.

I take great issue with managers thattake longer asking someine to do something than it would have taken to do themselves (unless for training purposes). It's just a waste of time and money on their behalf.

A rant I know, but these people give the rest of us hard working managers a bad name....

Miss Understood said...

Don't ever expect someone to do what you're not prepared to do yourself.
That's my philosophy.

Trouble is, not everyone thinks like me.

Girl Vino said...

What people don't seem to realise is that 'mere assistants' can make others' lives hell if they so choose. I treasure the receptionist/assistant at our workplace. The next time someone asks you to replace some fax paper or something equally mundane, that they could have done, ask if their hands are painted on!

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha yeah my boss used to call me into her office to refill her stapler when I was temping in an Assistant type role. The staples were in her desk drawer, so I had to go round to her side of the desk and get them, and then reach across her work to get the staples and put them in for her. I'm surprised she didn't call me in every time she wanted to staple a document actually.

You;ll find a way to get your own back. I did!!!


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