Friday, September 30, 2011

The World of Work - Day 10

I've been a responsibly employed member of UAE society for 2 weeks now and am learning a lot about my new company, Etihad Airways, and the work culture of UAE. So far so good, and here's what I noticed this week.

  • My first week, I read through a lot of the HR policies online and as per my employment contract (yes, you sign an employment contract that states your salary, benefits, and in this case work hours) my formal work hours are 42 per week. I think that's kind of funny - how exactly did they calculate 42 hours? Since I'm salaried, I end up working between 45 and 50 on an average week anyway so it really doesn't matter much. I get in between 7:30 and 7:45 and usually stay until 4:45 or 5:00. This is bound to increase a bit once I get rolling with my projects.
  • Lunch breaks are written in the policy as 20 minutes - maybe that's where part of those 2 hours comes from? But, like back home, I think people take what they need and just make sure to get their work done. Not sure how they run the call centers - that's where the strict timing really comes into play - not so much in Human Resources where I work.
  • I work in the Training Academy building, which is right across the parking lot from the headquarters. I have a cube in a large office with 5 other people currently (and one to start in the next week or two). It's quite a shift from my posh office at TDS and I'm still getting used to concentrating in spite of the noise and interruptions. (I know, my TDS co-workers are laughing right now ... and at the risk of your smirk getting even bigger, I'm pretty sure my cube is even smaller than your new ones - and I'm not joking.)
  • The other thing interesting about the Training Academy is that most of our Cabin Crew is trained in the classrooms just outside our Manager's office. This means that every day I walk past some of the most beautiful people on the planet - all dolled up and looking perfect. Talk about incentive to brush my hair and put on some makeup in the morning! :) Our flight attendants have strict grooming requirements including hair, uniform, shoes, jewelry, even shade of lipstick so they all look immaculate, young and gorgeous. I don't think I've seen anyone over about 25 year of age.
  • There are some nice similarities to TDS such as a strong internal communications department and pretty nice news site on the intranet. I feel like I'm able to keep up to date on company news and happenings and I really like that. They also send out a daily summary (to my boss, which she passes on) of all the external news articles relating to the airline industry, which is really cool and helpful for staying up to date.
  • And, of course, there are some real differences. This week I noticed the difference in office supplies. I haven't seen one file folder in the whole place. Went to the supply guys early in the week to ask for a few and they didn't seem to know what I was talking about - I walked out with a small binder. Come to think of it, I don't have any file drawers at my desk or anywhere in the office either, so even if I had some folders, where would I store them? Hmmmm, Etihad's way to keep things as paperless as possible??
That's the observations for this week. More to come!

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