On the first day in my previous job, I brought my bike right into my office.
“Oh,” my supervisor said, “they’re going to want you to put your bike in the outdoor cage.”
The cage is like a bike rack with police tape around it. “Hey,” it announces, “these bikes might be worth taking a look at.” It offered slightly better security than police tape, of course. If you were using really thick police tape. well, that would be a different story.
I kept my bike in my office.
On day three, an email came from Corporate Services:
Government Services has advised me that bikes are not allowed in the building and have asked me to pass along that message to you. There is a locked cage/compound off the alley that has been designated for employees to secure their bikes if they are not comfortable locking them in the [non-cage – ed] bike racks. If you would like me to show you the compound please come see me.
Thanks for your co-operation.
Is this a written policy? I’d like to know if I can satisfy this policy without removing my bike. I’m concerned that my bike may not be as secure outside. Does the policy specify any liability the employer assumes for damage or theft? Thanks for offering to show the compound. I am aware of its location and the combination lock.
I kept my bike in my office.
There was no response to my email. There’s some funny things about bureaucracy. One of them is that if you practice civil disobedience you can sometimes get your way.
My theory… actually, the theory of civil disobedience… is that if you have a fairly reasonable justification for not following the rules, you might be able to make the powers-that-be engage in a dialogue about the policy. Ghandi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’d hoped someone would come and speak to me plainly about their interests and I could express my needs as an employee. We could negotiate and find a shared solution. Not so. I was ignored.
The week before I left, a full-fledged written policy on everything related to our use of the office space came out. If it has to do with offices, it was in there. The author appeared to have been given a clear assignment: Whatever it is, offload all responsibility onto the individual employee. The only convenience to be considered is our own.
The section on bicycles says no bikes are to be in any government building. All liability resides with the owner of the bike. I’m disappointed with this policy, of course. It is completely organization-centric and has nothing to do with the interests, needs or engagement of public service employees. A sort of a black mark, I’d say, against an organization pursuing a brand of “employer of choice.”
Perhaps, if I was still there, my bike would still be in my office. Maybe I’d have gotten a “fight.” I think I would have enjoyed that.