As I breathe and think and dream

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I haven’t blogged in quite a while. There are reasons and excuses aplenty for that. However if we cut through all the fluff of ‘not having enough time’ and ‘baby kept me busy’, we will come to the core of one of my darkest secrets – that is, I used to blog primarily at work when I had nothing to do. Naughty girl, you say! But wait there is more. The majority of my blogging was done when I spent 4 months last year on the bench. Now how many of you do not know what I mean? I am guessing maybe 2% of you. All others know that the meaning of a bench is no longer restricted to “a piece of furniture, which typically offers seating for several people”. The most commonly accepted meaning of the word now refers to those people who have no billable work to do, especially in the world of IT and consulting.
The bench is a place where most people in the IT world find themselves at least once in their life. The IT consultancy companies hire people for working on different client projects – hwoever not all the people are tagged to a project all the time. There are ones who have just finished a project and are waiting for another one, there are ones who are waiting for budgets to be approved and work to commence on a delayed project, there are ones whose areas of expertise are no longer that much in demand and hence placing them in a project is a resource manager’s nightmare. I have been fortunate (or unfortunate – depending on how you are lookinhg at it) to have been on the bench just once in my decade long work career. I had just joined back at work after my six months of maternity leave and I found that the fount of work in my department had sort of dried up. There were few clients and while there was talk of many projects due to start soon-ish, nothing was actually happening. So on the bench I was placed.
The initial few days are fun. There is nothing much to do – no deadlines, no irate clients, not so severe Monday blues. However after the days become week, it starts to appear mind numbingly boring. If you are sitting amidst other people who are not on the bench and busy with work, you have to appear to be busy yourself. Chat sites and even some personal mail sites cannot be accessed from office. Accessing internet sites too is tricky and by that, I am not referring to the lurid contents of the world wide web. Have you tried checking too many times in an open plan office? Awkward! So here was my strategy to survive – Read all those articles about tenchology improvements that I had been ignoring all this while (those look pretty official to the person casually looking over your shoulder!). Blog. Have extended lunches – and complete errands around town. Look for free trainings to attend (no management is going to approve of paid training for an employee on the bench!). Try and work from home when possible. Strive to avoid those managers who are looking for people who help finish their presentations for free. Hound the resource manager for news of upcoming opportunities. Scoot out of the door the minute the clock strikes 5pm.
That lasted for 4 months and after that I has placed at a client site. I was very happy to be back doing billable work as all the good things in a consultancy firm ( think bonus, promotion, pay hike) are linked to being billable. Also everyone knows that if one is on the bench for too long, then it starts to move towards ‘pink-slip’ o’clock rapidly. However I did miss being on the bench on some levels. My blogging and lunchtime personal chore runs took a big hit.
Now I have quit the world of consultancy and the term ‘being on the bench’ no longer holds as much meaning for me. Along with ‘sucking up to the partners’, ‘bullshitting the client’, ‘making high impact documents without any sense in them’ etc. Good riddance or what?