Things are changing at work, in ways that have nothing to do with the economy. Our new chairman is finally starting to put his unique stamp on the department. I'd describe our new direction as something between Dilbert and The Borg.
On the Dilberty side, we have a staggering number of meetings. The big boss, hair looking more pointy by the day, rambles through his agenda in random order. A question may lead to a side debate that quickly goes off topic and never seems to end. If anything physics related is covered at all, half the time it ends up badly for us. We are almost in the realm of having meetings to discuss other meetings. It has gotten to be a huge joke with us in the trenches. As if the constant stream of meetings wasn't bad enough, we get bombarded with lecture notices. Last week alone, we had ten hours of meetings and lectures spread across all five working days. I confess that about two hours into the one on Tuesday afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore and started quietly playing Sudoku on my iTouch. Other people were carrying on lively text message conversations or reading email.
As for the Borg, well, let me share an example with you. We were recently directed to use a specific font, size and color on all email messages, and told to use a particular format for our email signature. Yes, You Will Be Assimilated. Individuality is no longer tolerated. Since not everyone is savvy with the inner workings of Outlook, this has led to a hilarious variety of almost-but-not-quite-right email signatures. Logo replaced by the red "image not found" X, double spaced lines, four different shades of blue, an assortment of incorrect fonts. I was helping some nurses set theirs up and found out that they did not even have the required font installed on their PCs. Brilliant idea - doom them to failure from the outset.
Want more? OK. I was recently accused of "violating our logo policy" on an electronic form template I created (that looked exactly like the paper form we'd been using for years) and sent a 15-page PDF file from Marketing containing the complete set of rules for logo usage. My offense? The logo was in a table that had borders around all of the cells, so I had illegally placed a "box" around the logo.
Don't get me wrong. I know the economy sucks and I am very happy to have my relatively stable job. And I get what the new guy is trying to accomplish for the department and our reputation. It is important, and will be good for us. It just looks different down in the trenches (literally, the basement of the clinic) than it does in the lofty towers of academe. Generally, I like what I do. But these changes have increased the time I have to spend doing useless stuff at work, while continuing to produce as much or more of my real work output (patient load has been up lately). The only way to do this is to work more hours. No one notices that, but if you fail to show up at a meeting... watch out! I could get resentful, but I choose to deal with it by poking fun at the situation instead. We do it all the time, and laughing about it with my coworkers helps us get through the day -- meetings, lectures, mandatory fonts and all.