Today the consultation process into the proposed redundancies at work formally ended. The redundancies will go ahead, so on Monday the normal programming work in the office will basically stop – all that the people being made redundant will need to do on Monday is receive the formal letters, hand in company property, collect their belongings, and leave.
The number of people who, like me, have got new jobs with the company (in the same office) has gone up a bit, but still about three quarters of the people at risk will go. There were some other people who have never been at risk (the people running the data centre, and technical support) but not many.
When the UK company I used to work for was bought by the US company I currently work for, there was an interesting interplay of influences. Both companies had a billing product, but aimed at overlapping rather than identical markets. The US had a few mega-customers, the UK had many small customers. The US had, for several reasons, a get-it-out-the-door-fix-it-later approach, and the UK (also for several reasons) had a get-it-right-first-time approach.
What happened was the US product was pensioned off, and the UK product adopted as pretty much the only show in town but needing lots of work to cope with mega-customers. The two approaches were combined – officially it was the UK approach, but it never got the whole way to adoption (for several reasons 😉 ). The UK high-ups gradually all left or were made redundant, so the official clout of the UK was reduced, but the slight change in culture and complete change in code had already become permanent. An Indian outpost was set up, to take advantage of the large pool of talented cheap labour.
And now, the UK development group has stopped. All work previously done by the UK is supposed to be done by India (with the US continuing as before). Whether or not India is up to the job is uncertain.
Those like me who are left are supposedly doing new jobs – proper research e.g. investigating new technologies and new markets, and also consulting with customers over things that don’t fit easily with the development sausage machine view of the world. Whether or not we will actually be pulled back to help India is uncertain. We will all be huddling together in one bit of the office – this means a change of floor for me, and also a change of boss – so that half the office can keep its lights off.
Every Friday for about a couple of years there has been something called Happy Hour (cakes etc, starting at 4 p.m.) so that people can mingle, particularly aimed at building a community between our building and the local sales office across the car park. This week one of my long-standing colleagues, who worked in the sales office and was a prime mover behind Happy Hour, died suddenly after a long illness. She was a lovely woman – always smiling and enthusiastic in a nice kind of way.
Anyway, today our section went to the pub for lunch, and then back to the office for an especially extended Happy Hour. The pub was great – lovely surroundings, no sign of gallows humour or unhappiness, just friends enjoying themselves together. A colleague on maternity leave brought in her very cute baby. And there was a very nice pub cat.
Happy Hour was bittersweet. I tried not to think too often that I wouldn’t see most of the people after Monday. I wouldn’t say that I got on hugely with everyone, but there was no-one that I actively disliked, and I knew pretty much everyone and trusted the judgment of most that I knew. Many had worked together for 5 years, and quite a few for 10 or more – we were a team, who had achieved a lot. But no more. My new job does sound like it could be very good, but there’s a lot of ways I can see it not going well, so I’m not fully happy or sad or anything at the moment.
I still have a job that pays the bills, I have a home (at least, the bank has 😉 ), a lovely wife and four children who are smashers, so in the proper way of looking at things I am richly blessed.