Last night I had the weirdest dream.
I dreamt that I was starting work at an Archi firm and that it was my first day at my new office.
The boss was like an amalgamation of all my previous bosses. A cool slightly arrogant man, confident in his design skills but also a bit of a hippy with lots of radical ideas and lessons to teach. He came across as very ‘chummy’ towards his staff. The office was modelled informally after a design studio and everyone seemed very relaxed. In fact the boss spent a lot of time talking about design and his aspirations for projects.
The firm had a tradition that every new employee had to go through an ‘obstacle course’ which was situated on the top floor of the building where the office was. I had to climb over some walls and barriers in order to get to the top, at which a photo of me was taken. This photo was then displayed on a wall in the office.
Things seemed to be looking good. Apparently the boss owned the entire building where the office was located and he was leasing it out to a bunch of businesses. That meant that he wasn’t hard pressed for his architecture business to be profitable so he could take his time with projects. This explained why no one seemed stressed or rushing to meet deadlines.
However the dream started to go downhill from there on.
Just one floor below the office was a large book store which also stocked articles of clothing. The boss owned this book store. I was told that as a new employee I could pick any books that I wanted. However at the end of my shopping spree I was also informed that I would have to pick a pair of pyjamas as well.
Warning bells started to sound in my head. Did this mean that we were often expected to stay in the office through the night?
Next when I went to my desk I found that no one had an individual desk space. All desks were 2m long by 0.6m wide and were shared by 4 people at the same time. Each of us was issued a tiny laptop, with a screen barely 10” across. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened AutoCAD and about half the screen was taken up by icons.
Bewildered I asked the guys sitting across from me whether or not it were possible to get a bigger screen, to which they calmly replied, yes I could, but there’d be no space for it. I asked them if they actually drafted on such tiny screens and they again replied that they did.
It was at this point that I was confronted by the paradox of the bosses generosity in giving us free books but not being willing to spend more on equipment and office space. Furthermore even though there was no pressure to meet deadlines, employees were expected to still put in long hours to churn out their best designs no matter how long it took.
Most of the employees appeared to be young, in their mid to late twenties. As an individual in my mid-30s, married and with kids, I didn’t quite fit the mould.
By this time, I was beginning to like this workplace less and less. I then realised that this couldn’t be happening as I was already employed elsewhere. I began to panic. Thoughts started to rush through my head, ‘how did I end up here?’, ‘what happened to my current job?’.
It was then that I awoke. Confused and dazed I stared at my room in relief knowing that I was no longer working for the private sector anymore. Despite all the impressive trappings of a design firm, I don’t think I can go back there. Not at the moment at least.
My priorities just aren’t directed towards design anymore.