After many years in one job, little things can become easy. Amongst the things that give you an advantage are small tips from colleagues about the way things really work. For instance, I once worked in an office adjacent to a swimming pool. At lunch, I would swim at the pool, and return to work relaxed and productive. At this pool, there were coin-operated lockers that cost fifty cents.
I would frequently run into colleagues at the pool during lunch hour. On one occasion, a long-service colleague attempted to use the same locker as me, locker #51. He said “oh you go ahead and use the free locker.” Free locker? “Yes, the coin slot is broken but the lock works, so there’s no charge.”
This colleague showed me how. Put your clothes in, close the door, skip the step where you put money in, then turn the key and pull it from the keyhole. Lo and behold, there was a locked locker and a key in hand. He handed me the key and said, “enjoy.”
In most workplaces, there are small advantages everywhere, just like locker #51. An undiscovered staircase, prior versions of the report you’re working on, and contacts who can answer your question in one minute. These are not always things that you find on the web site or in training materials. These tips are not a result of having rank, data access, or an advanced degree. They are just little tips that favor those who have been around for a few years and listened to their peers.
There are many twists and turns in our careers, things that make us energetic or complacent or curious or mad. In the middle of these many changes, things get a little easier every year. If we leave, we will lose this advantage. I think it’s a secret reason why people stick around.
Can you think of the last time you found a locker #51 in your workplace? What are some of the tips or tricks that you have learned from others?