The First Week of Work

It's Saturday today, and a welcome break after my first week in my new job. After a long and not exactly efficient recruitment process, I was finally cleared to start work last Monday. 

My job is at the Essex County Council, based in their offices in Chelmsford.  Chelmsford is a city about half an hour north of London by train. It's the county town of Essex and has been around since the Romans built a fort there in AD 60. In 1189 the name of the town was changed from Celmeresfort to Chelmsford. Two rivers meet in the city; the Can, and the Chelmer that gave its name to the city.

Until I move into my flat in Chelmsford at the beginning of November I will be commuting to work. It takes just over an hour and involves catching the DLR (light rail) to Stratford and then a train to Chelmsford. Because I am travelling counter peak I often get most of a train carriage to myself for the 30 minute journey, so it's a relatively low stress commute. Unfortunately there's very little to see from the train as the tracks are almost always lines with shelter belts, but the occasional glimpse of fields through the trees can be very picturesque in good weather.

Fields in the late afternoon sun.
The Council buildings are just a couple of minutes walk from the railway station, and like Nelson City Council are several buildings joined together. An atrium in the centre joins buildings built before the war to more depressing looking modernist concrete blocks. Each floor is open plan. Really open plan. There's no divisions at all. Despite this it is surprisingly quiet.

The people in my team are lovely, I'm glad to be able to say. They're all English as far as I can tell, and I seem to be the only Kiwi in the office and therefore a novelty. I was surprised that there weren't more New Zealanders about. People made vague motions and said they thought there might be some Australians 'over that way'. As yet I have only really met my team, and with such a huge room full of people it is a little daunting thinking about trying to get to know them all. And that's only my floor. Apparently there are around a thousand people in the building complex.

Below are some notable differences between my experiences in NZ and here. They're to be taken with a grain of salt as they're only the first impressions after one week.
  • Due to the size of the organisation there's no expectation or attempt to know everyone in the organisation. 
  • The organisation doesn't provide any tea, coffee, milk etc. Everyone has to bring their own.
  • Neither does the organisation provide cleaning equipment in the kitchens, staff are expected to provide their own dishwashing liquid and sponge etc. So my apologies to whoever it was that I was inadvertently stealing from the first few days.
However, just like everywhere else I've ever worked this place has its own office politics, which I'm only just starting to get my head around. 

The other unusual thing for me is that this job is only for 35 hours a week. This means I can start at 9am and finish at 4.30 if I like. Something I've never done before! Morning tea comes around extremely quickly when you only start at 9am. At the moment this is coming in handy as it allows me to get to work in time without having to get up in the insanely early hours. I'm looking forward to making the most of the enforced free time once I move to Chelmsford by signing up to a gym again - after all this travelling and inactivity I need it! 

When I came over here I didn't expect that I would be able to get a job in my area of expertise, so I'm really quite stoked that this job is in the public transport department.  The team seem to be as keen as I am for us to learn from each other how each country deals with the issues that come up when providing public transport. 

Even so, I'm glad it's the weekend.


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