Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Obvious" can be so relative.

Been at the new job for one month now. The people remain very, very nice, I'm in love with the Dutch machine that dispenses free cocoa, and the work itself is not that demanding. What is demanding however (and I find this is usually the case) is the almost endemic aversion to efficiency. A preference for slogging through something in the most labor-intensive way possible rather than ask, for example, "Hey, do I really need to print my emails so JC can file them in a drawer?'

Today I sat with a claims guy to try and see whether there was a better way to maintain internal files (Damn you Sarbanes-Oxley!!!" It was tortuous, and by the end I realized my snappy little process proposal was going in the bin. At one point, he showed me insurance web sites he uses, with the idea that I could look up statuses myself.

"Why don't you just email me a list of the sites," I said. "Start with the one on your screen."

He looked at me blankly.

"Just paste the URL into an email," I prompted.

Confused hand gesture added to blank stare.

So it was today that I realized that part of this guy's problem vis a vis being overwhelmed with work is that he's horribly inefficient. I had to show him how to copy and paste a url (a general ignorance of keyboard shortcuts is widespread in the department; I've had to fight down screams watching people mouse all over menu commands rather than just hit two keys. I came dangerously close to a breakdown sitting next to someone who was showing me something, and who deleted entire sentences by holding down the DELETE key for ten minutes as the letters streamed into oblivion.)

Then there was the guy whose phone bill was tossed accidentally by me into the recycling and was lost. I suggested he just print it out from online. He'd never done this before (he is not an old person). I offered to show him how. Rather than do this, which would have entailed doing something unfamiliar, he called the phone company and had them MAIL HIM A NEW BILL.

I am sent emails by my boss. Emails with attachments. My instructions? Print them. Why? Because there are many of them. Or they are zipped, and rather than ask how to unzip them (two clicks), she sends them to me. Or because she doesn't realize you can highlight them all and print them all at once. This is the same person who has me file her emails in a drawer. Said files moved to offsite storage after a year. Yes, we pay money to store printed emails.

I've given up the germ of a notion that I may be able to help things. I will have a positive impact, but I'm not worrying about the big picture. I don't  get paid to.


SP said...

It's because of people like this that we now have idiotic programs like Windows 2007. Thanks a lot.

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ClassyGal said...

I had to laugh out loud when I read about the guy who asked the phone company to mail him a bill. It's so weird, for the most part I find that it's 50/50. Either people are really tech guru's or they have no sweet clue.

Terno Failure said...

nice. lol

wyesined said...

Nice post! Ü


karen said...

just popped by while surfing the blogosphere and you really made me laugh. and unclench my jaw. and laugh.

honestly. 15 years ago I was temping and I couldn't get people to do the most basic things on a computer. And it continues. So glad I am not in an office ... except I teach some pretty basic computing on a Mac at nightschool and some of it is making me want to DRINK because of the same stuff!

Hope you are surviving. I am pseudo-retired (stay-at-home-mom style ... best kept secret EVER)