Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Working in an office with boys

Last week the gender balance in our IT office changed even more in favour of the boys, to the point where this week, I am the only female. This small shift played to my advantage today.  I'm not saying the males in the office don't notice things, its perhaps they don't notice SOME things.  This afternoon I found myself coming back from teaching my Pilates class and changing into my office attire.  Dress- check.  Tights- check. Shoes- check....that is until I went to put the shoes on.

Now at 7.00am in the morning I'm usually desperately trying to get out the door.  This morning was particularly bad as I was getting texts from sick staff and at the same time a critical news item had come on TV concerning the area my start-up is working in, not to mention the cat under my feet.  No time to race down-stairs and get the my-sky recording.  With iPhone pointed at the TV, I was recording, a great little clip to take into work and show the team.  Being proud of myself and now 5 further minutes late, I rushed around getting my change of clothes for coming back from teaching classes- stuffed into a bag and out the door I flew.

This incident wouldn't have been than bad if I had not just been discussing over lunch with a friend and fellow Pilates participant how funny it had been when she came to a fitness expo with her pants on backwards.  Not to mention we also realised that another gentleman in class appeared to have his pants on backwards today with the zip at the back!  After a few laughs we both flew off to our busy lives.

Now back in the office around 2.00pm and changing into my next set of clothes for the day, putting my shoes on, I start to feel a little odd.  I felt almost off balance or like I had something on the bottom of my shoe.  I look down and cringe.  I have managed to grab two different shoes in my hurry this morning.  This left me with 4 choices.  1. Put my gym gear back on with my sports shoes. 2. Put my sports shoes on with my corporate wear.  3. Don't wear any shoes around the office for the afternoon.  4. Put on the shoes and hope no-one notices.

After a few seconds deliberation I thought to myself, if this was last week and the girls were in the office, I would NEVER put on an un-matching pair of shoes, especially different height shoes!  Today there were all boys.  I decided to opt for option 4- wear the different height non-matching shoes and half limp around the office.  I did this for two reasons.  Firstly, I didn't have much of a choice, and secondly as a bit of an experiment to see if any of the boys noticed.

Now at this point I do have to add that I am in an office of IT boys, lets say 'Geek Guys'.  Not to say they aren't observant but I think they pride themselves in being more into computer games than shoes if that makes sense.

So the afternoon pressed on and I'm up and down from my desk- over to the printer, back to my desk, over to another desk- up and down with my different shoes.  Now they have all gone home.  No one either noticed or said a thing.  Now I know they would have said something if they noticed as we have a 'Dick of the Month' award and this would have seen me in top spot.  I chose to stay quiet on this one for once!

So, back to the topic heading.  Working in an office with mainly boys over the years due to working in IT, a very male dominated industry has taught me a great deal.  Here are the pros and cons I've found as one of few females working in an office with boys:

1. Guys don't notice if you wear non-matching shoes to work
2. You have a clean toilet all to yourself (most days)
3. The office plants near your desk look the healthiest
4. Your perfume does not compete with others
5. You can talk about Motorsport all day long if you are a Petrol head gal
6. Your clothes will almost always be brighter than theirs (almost always)

1. Guys don't care if they don't match their cothes and even sometimes congratulate others on doing so.
2. On the days they may use the ladies due to over-flow - the seat can be left up
3. They put pant food in the office branded drink bottles so you don't know they are trying to revive their plants every day
4. They don't wear perfume of any kind, and possibly some days no deodorant
5. They don't watch My Kitchen Rules or Married at First Sight so don't even try discussing it with them
6. New shirt crease marks don't bother them and neither does not washing or ironing a new shirt right out of the packet.

If I'm being serious, I actually love working in an office with boys, after all I've done this nearly my whole career.  The gender balance does not bother me as that's what I'm used to. I simply enjoy working with smart and funny people who are professional about their chosen career, boys or girls.

I will say though that I'm pleased they never noticed my shoes or how awkward I felt all afternoon.  I guess the jokes on me!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Would you tell your team you are having a colonoscopy?

My Dad was 36 when he got bowel cancer, thankfully he's still around with us today.  Genetics can be a frustrating thing but we all have to live with the consequences both good and bad.  I have to be screened for Bowel Cancer as I'm supposedly high-risk as my Dad, my grandfathers brother and my great granddad all had bowel cancer. 

So here I am, sitting at home trying to work while doing bowel preparation.  I've literally just sat back down in front of the computer to do some more work after sculling back my 6th glass of Glycoprep, waiting for things to happen, literally.  I've been on a low fiber clear fluids diet for the past few days- no fruit and veges, no good fibre- this is just not me at all.  I'm grumpy and cold...oh and bloated. I've just finished drinking 1.5 litres of this glorious lemon flavoured liquid that's meant to 'clear you out'. I have a timer set for every 15 minutes to have another one until all 3 litres has gone. 

OK so now its happening, I clearly spoke to soon, here I was thinking it was a complete waste of time because it wasn't happened.  Wrong.   I'm now finding by self blogging between trips to the kitchen to drink the Glop and the bog.  I think the pattern is kitchen, blog, bog, blog, bog, blog kitchen.  In that order. However I think it may change in the very near future. Actually it has.  I think its more now like kitchen, blog, bog, blog, bog, blog bog, blog, bog, blog, bog kitchen.  If I was at work repeating such an efficient pattern I'd be patting myself on the back with just how productive I'd been in one 15 minute block!

I've been in the wars lately- I tore my calf in March and just after I recovered from that, tore a tendon in my arm.  My team have seen me racing from Sports Doctor appointment to Physio to Ultrasounds and now this!

So I thought about this procedure for a while, knowing I need to just get on and get it done. I'm not sure why I've been avoiding it.  To be honest I've just not been prioritising it, knowing its just a precautionary screening, or perhaps just not wanting to face the music if something was found. I think we all do this as humans to an extent. It probably one of our ultimate flaws, simply not prioritising things because they are precautionary.  And just as I'm about to make my point, the 15 minute timer goes off for my next glass of lemon bliss,  Back in a minute..... ( If that glass was a shooter and I was in a bar, people would be cheering me on the way I am handling these glasses of Glop!).  I think I will time myself on the next one. 

Now, back to my point about priorities and things that are perhaps a little awkward like my current situation.  I think we don't openly discuss these awkward things as they are embarrassing.  This in itself perhaps makes it harder for us to actually set about doing them.

At the start of this week I had to tell the team I would be working from home today and would be having a 'minor medical procedure' the next day which would require me to be knocked out.  I announced this in our stand-up morning meeting.  One of the team then innocently asked 'Is it for your arm?'. 

I stood there for a few seconds contemplating my answer.  So do I tell them what I'm doing or not?  I'm the boss.  Do I sweep this awkward procedure under the mat and simply tell them its 'private',  or do I tell them I'm actually having a Colonoscopy?  For those who read my blogs, I refer you back to my Are you being your Authentic Self? blog.  From this you know that this is what I've been trying to do.  So guess what I did? 

Instead of brushing it under the carpet like I might have done in the past, I just told them.  "I'm having a Colonoscopy because my father had Bowel Cancer at the age of 36 and I have to be checked too".  I could see a few puzzled looks so I continued.  "So guys, I have to be on a low fibre diet for a few days this week eating ham and cheese omelettes and fish and rice and no fruit or veges".  One of them said- wow that sound awesome and a few others nodded with smiles on their faces and visions of cheese omelettes.  I then told them the rest.  And after that I have to go on a fluid only diet, take laxatives and drink this stuff until I'm cleared out for the procedure". That wiped the smiles off their faces! (In case you are wondering, as a side note, I just timed myself and its 40 seconds, that's my new record for skulling the Glop back, this now appears to have bought on another new record, but that's perhaps for another day.  Put it this way, I'm close to officially blogging on the bog now).

As they all stood in silence I started to question my actions.  They then started asking questions and I started discussing things with them.  When we departed from the meeting I felt good.  I'd managed to take an otherwise taboo topic and make it easy to talk about openly with my team.  I felt proud about the example I was setting for them.  Being open and honest is important, it simply builds better teams. I hope I am teaching the team this.

I decided I would do the same with my Pilates class.  Rather than just tell them I would be away for today's class, I would tell them exactly where I was going to be. So during our foot facia release and neck stretch and the start of the class, I told them the same thing- I was having a Colonoscopy and I went on with instructing the class as normal.  I completed the class with some relaxation and closed off by telling everyone to have a great day.  Afterwards a few ladies came up to me.  This was not that unusual as I usually get questions after the class and I stay and chat to members on a regular basis.  These three ladies came up to me, one of them new to the class and said 'we want to talk to you about your Colonoscopy'.  They then went on to give me the most excellent tips about drinking the Glyco Prep fluid, the clear fluid diet and being prepared for the procedure and what to expect afterwards.  These ladies touched my heart.  Because I opened up to them, they opened up to me. Some of them have never met each other.

I left with a smile on my face again.  Just look at what being open and authentic does.  People feel engaged and want to help.  Taboo topics are discussed and people band together to help others out.  My team knows where I am and why and can support me.
I just wish I had the confidence to do this years ago.  Being open, transparent and authentic about difficult subjects makes a difference to those around you and how you feel.

So, the advice for anyone facing a Colonoscopy Prep process, just simply set your office up in the bog with a mini drinks fridge next to you.  Life is so much easier when you know what to expect and when you can expect it! 

Wish me luck for tomorrow team!   Either way with a good or bad result, I'll be proud to tick this off my list and at least a few more of you may know what to expect and I've potentially helped you out too.

P.S.  I'm signing this off while drinking my final glass, I think I'll take my time with this one and celebrate.  At least I can have clear chicken broth for dinner, I made three litres of it in case I needed it.....