Archive | W3C RSS feed for this section

Work won’t love you back

10 Mar

Abstract of what is on my mind: work is transactional by nature, excellent connections with coworkers are precious (I am fortunate to have many). Now, the companies that consider their work force “family” puzzle me. This is not exactly the case where I work (or is it?), BUT we are in a setting that is pretty conducive to it, AND after 27 years, this is going to change –in less than a year. SO I really wonder what that change will do to the current equilibrium (I’m pretty sure it’s going to put it to the test).


This stemmed from my browsing The Twitters yesterday. I read Kevin‘s tweet (screenshot and link underneath). He wrote “work won’t love you back.” And as much as I’ve loved the people I’ve worked with, it’s always turned to be correct.

He was quoting another Twitter thread (screenshot and link underneath) where I read “it’s so emotionally damaging when companies self-style their workers as “family”. you can have deep emotional connections with your coworkers, if you’re lucky, but don’t forget that work relationships are fundamentally transactional. i hope your family is not.

Tweet by Kevin pointing out that work won’t love you back
The tweets that Kevin quoted, referring to work as family but also as being a transaction

I don’t consider my workplace to be like family and we aren’t self-styled as such either. But, work is very central in my life: every other week I spend most of my waking time at work (the other week, I am solo parent of a teenager).

Firstly, I am fortunate to have very deep emotional connections with many of my coworkers, a few of which I even regard as father figures, many of which are true models for me, most of which I respect tremendously. Secondly, we have very little turnover. I’ve worked there for over 22 years and many current colleagues were already in the team when I joined. And we welcome newcomers, not as siblings, but with similar care and attention to their success. As though we have a stake in it –and we do, yes. Thirdly, we get together (we used to, pre-COVID at least) every now and then and those occasions are always enjoyable and looked forward to by most. Yes, like any other workplaces, there are difficult people who get along with fewer people or are not interested in making any connections at all. That’s my description of our unusual work environment. In fact, I remember how I described it to my mum a few years into it: like summer camp where you make new great friends and do exciting stuff, but all year-round.

Now, our administrative setup allows us to do our work without a whole lot of competition, without too many frustrations, because we are employed by four different institutions that legally “host” our consortium, and in most of our cases, the people who employ us are not those we take work orders from. I think that makes a world of a difference.


Change is coming. The Hosts arrangement, in place from the start in 1994, has enough drawbacks that for a few years now we have been exploring how to become our own legal entity. This is set to happen on January 1, 2022. When it does, the consortium will have its own bank account, legal and fiduciary obligations, and traditional management powers that we currently do not fully have.

The dynamics are bound to change. While today I (and many others in the team) are moved by the sheer impact our work has on society (HTML –heard of it? CSS, Web accessibility, Internationalization, etc. We are the little known consortium that makes the Web work, for everyone) and the Hosts that employ us provide the best abstraction to shield us from the reality of the transactional nature of work, this is going to hit us in the face like the train crashing Dr. Woodward’s truck in the movie Super 8!

There is a lot on our plates and most of us overwork because it’s really worth it! I remind myself on occasion that work won’t love me back but once we are truly as valuable as our ability to make the company money, I wonder how the care will fare.

Pranking

29 Jan

This week was a good week. I engineered a prank at work that brought much fun and entertainment, and made that week even better. A prank in 3 acts.

Act 1

We use Zoom for our meetings and when I noticed, just as I was leaving at the end of a meeting, that a colleague of mine wasn’t at his desk, I thought I just had missed an opportunity to take a screenshot of his room without him, and later use it as my own background image and see his face as he realized!

So I went back, found his room still empty and quickly took a screenshot. I was in the process of making my window bigger to take a better screenshot when he showed up. Uh oh! “Oh, you were waiting for me to return?,” he asked. I couldn’t quickly enough come up with a good excuse for the probably guilty look on my face, so I just fessed up. Good laugh was had. And see you next time, wink wink!

The next thing I did was to quickly edit out his name from the bottom left part of the screenshot. I saved the photo somewhere I could open it on my iPhone and used the “healing” tool of Snapseed (my favourite —and free— image edition software on smartphone), which basically redraws an area of your choice using its surrounding. Then I adjusted a bit the sharpness and reduced the noise to get the best out of that pretty small screenshot.

Then I tested it as my own Zoom virtual background 👌and gave him a preview.

A glimpse of the result

Act 2

I wrote to everyone-but-him in the team who usually attends our weekly all-hands meeting (which was the next day) and shared my “work” and the context, offering them to join me in escalating the prank, since I had been made.

And it turned out so so much better this way.

Response was high. But then, who isn’t in for a bit of harmless fun? Especially when it’s so easy to set up.

Someone had suggested some particular timing: our colleague usually gets to speak early in the meeting and that was going to be our cue to all switch to our virtual background of his soon-worldwide-office.

Act 3

The meeting started as usual and people, who were a bit more numerous than habitual, kept a very straight face. Our colleague was called to speak and most of the tiles in the gallery instantly changed!

Escalated prank

Everyone yielded to the smiles that had been suppressed and for a few moments none of us heard him. We were too focused on awaiting his reaction. And yet, he continued to talk, unaware, for a few seconds until wrapping up. At the exact moment he briefly paused, hesitated, apparently lost track of his thought and then finished his word, we knew he was finally looking at his screen and he was confused.

Mischief managed!

He was not expecting that, to our delight! Hearing his heartfelt laugh was such a reward. Another bonus was seeing a number of colleagues who usually don’t start their video in meetings. I enjoyed immensely seeing a whole room of smiling people.

%d bloggers like this: