I’m Old, Part LXXIX: Taking Care of Coworkers

If you are working in a small office, you will quickly understand how important you all are to each other. When I was at Atalasoft, I often interviewed candidates and part of my routine included time set aside for a candidate to ask me questions. Often, a candidate would ask me what I liked about Atalasoft. Very often, I answered that I felt like on any given day, I felt that I could make the office a better place in a measurable way.

We had a wonderful office manager, Christina. She was a delight to have in the office because she did a lot to keep everything running smoothly and her laugh was sunshine on a rainy day. At one point, Christina was expecting a baby, which is always a wonderful thing. There was a problem, though. Our office was fairly sizeable and Christina’s desk was almost as far as possible from the bathroom in the office as you could be. She often would get to the bathroom and find that it was occupied, leaving her to walk on to the restroom on the floor, even further.

I remember a lunchtime conversation with Christina about her problem with some of the other engineers and we all discussed possible solutions. Many of the more junior engineers were talking web cams pointing at the door and so on. All of them could work, but they were either Baroque, expensive, intrusive or all three.

I talked to Christina and asked if I could be floated about $75 budget to solve her problem. I bought an Arduino, and ethernet shield, a magnetic security switch, some cable and a plastic enclosure. I hooked up the security switch to the bathroom door and ran it into the server room next door. I got a static IP address for the Arduino (they don’t like DHCP) from Jason, and we hooked it into the network. The Arduino ran a teeny tiny webserver that when pinged would return a web page with either “door : open” or “door : closed” for the content. Simple.

Now Christina could ping this web server before she got up to go to the bathroom.

Of course, this wasn’t the end. There is always room for improvement. David T complained about the clunky interface. I invited him to make it better. He wrote a tool tray icon which polled the server periodically and displayed an icon of either an open door or a closed door. Nice. We dubbed the device the AtalaToidy 2000 and we put a label on the enclosure as such.

The point in this is that you and your coworkers are a team. To be a functional team, you need to support each other. To support each other, look for things that you can do to make things easier or better for each other. It can be little things like birthday celebrations or a kind word in a public meeting. It can be bigger things like helping a peer solve a customer’s problem or answering a question for sales. It can be environmental, like putting up Mario Brothers decals or creating the AtalaToidy 2000.  Certainly, what comes around goes around. If you make things better for your coworkers, they will certainly make things better for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.