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Nothing to do at work - feel so awkward

(34 Posts)
jakarta Thu 26-Sep-19 23:28:32

I recently started a new job (roughly a month ago), it’s my first ever ‘corporate’ job as before I’d only worked in retail so has felt like a big change for me

(I work in marketing if it’s relevant)

In my previous retail role, I worked in the stockroom and my manager/colleagues would tell me exactly what to do (which I preferred... I really don’t mind repetitive boring tasks as long as they tell me what to do! Unpredictability really stresses me out)

Now since starting I’ve been shown how to use all the relevant software for my role, but there are plenty of days where I go in to work with nothing to do! For example, today I get to work, brief greeting to the rest of my team, only to find no emails and my manager has not asked a thing of me. So I spend most of the day trying to look busy, when really I’m dying in the inside, I feel so stupid and worthless. Now as this happened quite many times, I had previously braved going up to my manager and asking “Hi _ sorry to bother you, I was just wondering if there was anything you’d like me to work on for you as I don’t have much going on atm”
^at the time, I feel like my manager almost made up the vague task just so it could occupy me, I really didn’t feel like it was necessary but at least I was told what to do (it involved going through the company’s website and thinking of improvements... he never asked for my thoughts afterwards)

I should also confess I have a history of severe social anxiety. I’m not sure what the correct work etiquette is when you have nothing to do - don’t want to annoy/bother my manager as he is more senior and seems to be busy a lot. Plus I had applied to a lot of jobs before being offered this one, and I remember when doing those situational based judgement tests I got the feeling many companies didn’t seem to like it if you kept rushing off to your manager for every inconvenience

I have obviously been ordered to complete some work tasks since starting, but they have always been extremely simple e.g. updating products/info on the company website and sending work for approval.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with having simple tasks but when you’re only given one, or if really lucky two for the whole day - which I could probably finish in an hour, I feel so awkward. It seems everyone around has ‘stuff’ to do but I don’t, I don’t know why they bothered hiring me tbh.
I always take my time with these simple tasks because I know I won’t have anything else to do for a while.
It sounds ridiculous but pretending to work is honestly more exhausting than actually having to work in my experience

Back in my retail days, I’d always have something to do for the whole day, and it made sense why I was there

jakarta Thu 26-Sep-19 23:32:27

Whoops clicked post too soon. I guess I shared this topic to see if anyone had experienced something like this and if it gets any better

The pay is better than my previous job, but the anxiety I get every morning, plus how worthless I feel makes me question if it’s really worth it

Also, I’m finding the social side of work rather challenging too. I’m terrified to butt in colleagues conversations, because I worry I will say the wrong thing or be ignored, and mostly speak when spoken to

MoltonSilver Thu 26-Sep-19 23:37:28

Ask your colleagues if they could do with any help while you're between tasks.

If you're going to your manager perhaps go with a suggestion of what you could do.

MoltonSilver Thu 26-Sep-19 23:47:43

I think it takes a a good 6 months to settle in and stop feeling 'new' in a new job. You'll get there.

Maltay Thu 26-Sep-19 23:51:47

Could you go up to a colleague that looks busy and ask if they need a hand? Gives you something to do and a good way to start a friendship?

fussygalore118 Thu 26-Sep-19 23:52:06

Well I would definitely pull together a consise report ( email something!) On what things you would improve on the website. If I'd asked a junior member of staff to do something like this this is what I would expect.
I would also look at trying to engage with your colleagues a little more. Offer to make someone a cuppa and ask if they need help. Talk to people about their roles etc.

Look through your JD, what are your area of responsibilities?

Blondie1984 Thu 26-Sep-19 23:59:08

Schedule induction meetings with other members of your team /people from other functions to get an overview of their roles and to establish and build relationships/contacts

And don't be afraid to ask your boss for more work - they will be impressed with your enthusiasm

Scienceforthewin Fri 27-Sep-19 00:01:03

Oh god, you are me. 3 weeks into my job and I'm dreading going in tomorrow as I have 10 minutes work to do 😦

subjecttoavailability Fri 27-Sep-19 00:26:39

hi OP, it happened to me as well, it was soul destroying and at the end I left. I filled my days with reading training materials and checking business news. no one was bothered about it. You can try to ask your manager if there are any training courses available? or check online user manuals for your software. I hope eventually you'll find your place within the team

thinkfast Fri 27-Sep-19 00:30:38

The correct work etiquette when you're in a corporate environment is to speak to your manager to ask for more work. Something along the lines of "I've got capacity to take on some more work and I'm really keen to get stuck in. In there anything I can help with?"

LemonPrism Fri 27-Sep-19 01:07:06

You need to arrange a meeting with your manager to discuss the expectations and tasks associated with your role. You can frame it as wanting to really get ahead and sink into the roll with clear objectives.

My job is manic, I'm the most junior person but feel like I work overtime every damn day. Some of it's my fault as when I had less to do at first I asked other team members if they wanted to delegate anything to me/ if I could assist. Try that?

Duckegg271 Fri 27-Sep-19 06:46:14

My job was like this. Some days there’d be absolutely nothing to do. Manager would be scrolling eBay, colleagues doing sudoku. I found it utterly soul destroying. I absolutely loved the job though (when there was work to do!). Thankfully 2 years later I had DS and went part time after my maternity leave now I always have work to do. Colleagues are still doing their sudoku!

Not that that helps you but I totally understand how awkward and worthless it makes you feel. It’s normal to have that feeling.

HotChocolateLover Fri 27-Sep-19 06:51:27

I’ve had a job like that and it was worse as I was in an open plan office. Literally nothing to do apart from the occasional thing that would take 15 minutes. Some days, nothing. This went on for 8 torturous months! Tried talking to my line manager but she was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

JoyceJeffries Fri 27-Sep-19 06:57:38

Well it sounds horrific and you should ask any colleagues who look busy it they need any help.
If it’s one of those offices where everyone in underemployed then you can use this time at signing up for loads of relevant courses. Get really good at excel; sign up for a marketing course etc. Treat that like work.
Get the job on your CV and them move on to somewhere busier.

redchocolatebutton Fri 27-Sep-19 07:11:41

do your perception of workload match up with the managers'?

make a list about training needs. do you use a specific software? is there a regulatory framework for your work?

jakarta Fri 27-Sep-19 07:14:33

Thank you for your posts smile
Good to hear I’m not the only one! My friends outside of work are fortunate enough they dont have this issue

As a few pp’s have suggested asking colleagues if they need help... firstly, my team is very small (2 other colleagues and manager) - except for my manager the other two don’t seem to ever be very busy (although at least have a general purpose / something to do everyday unlike me), and to be fair they try to at least explain recent decisions at work as they have meetings - I don’t. The rare times I do have work to do it’s because I’ve helped them with their assigned tasks (as I said previously I don’t know why they hired me - waste of the company’s moneygrin)
Now, I guess I could still ask my other colleagues in our department floor if they needed any help, but I was never formally introduced to most of them so will confess I’d be feeling like a nuisance and that I was putting them on the spot if I did ask. I even dreaded asking my own manager, but I tried to justify in my head that at least he knows he is supposed to be responsible for me whereas other colleagues from the department floor (but not same area as my team) have no real reason to need to help me, and as I’m new/very junior and inexperienced I doubt I’d be actually helping much rather than expecting to be trained to do something blush

I’m in an open plan office too otherwise I wouldn’t spend so much time pretending to look busy - if I weren’t I’d probably just about be able to cope lol

ShirleyPhallus Fri 27-Sep-19 07:18:26

This has happened to me but after the first month I was totally snowed under, so advise you enjoy it!

Otherwise, make your own work. What’s needed there?

Look through the website and suggest improvements
Look at their brochures and flyers - what else could be done?
Who are their key audiences? What messages do you put out? Could you write a report on messaging?
Competitor analysis - what exists and what could you add to?
Social media - what do they do now? Can you create a report of recommendations?
Media mentions - could you do a daily round up of mentions?
Marketing merchandise - can you volunteer for stock check then do a review of what they have vs make some recommendations?

There is loads of stuff you could be doing - try and make your own work load

What else is on your job spec?

MsJaneAusten Fri 27-Sep-19 07:23:14

Oh man. It sounds awful. Could you send an email to your manager (email so they’re prepared and can plan) requesting a meeting?

Dear Xxx, now that I’ve settled in, I feel I have more capacity to take on additional work. Please could we schedule a meeting to discuss tasks I could do that would make your life easier?

In the meantime, look for gaps in the marketing - social media? Trade forums? Etc - and start listing things you think you could do.

Is there a marketing strategy or marketing policy? A long term plan? If possible, get your hands on that and see if there’s anything not currently being done. That way you can also go to the meeting with suggestions.

Rockbird Fri 27-Sep-19 07:32:35

Same here. Also three weeks into a new job. There are periods when it is manic but in between those, the tasks I am given take me seconds. I've got training lined up for the software packages but I've already taught myself them. It is really hard but I'm assuming that I'll take over things when people are ready to give them to me. Otherwise I love the job.

palahvah Fri 27-Sep-19 07:42:46

1) what was in the job description? Have you been given any objectives?
Schedule a meeting with your line manager - if you don't already have a regular catch-up then put one in - and ask for some objectives and to work out a plan to get you up to speed so you can help more. Eg shadowing team members at meetings. It sounds as though they're busy and struggling to delegate to you because they haven't taken the time to give you the right knowledge to help.
2) you were asked to provide recommendations for improving the website - compile those into a report or presentation and email/print off for the team. Don't wait to be asked twice.
3) finish the tasks you've been given. If I have someone work to do and they were taking ages on a simple task I'd be unlikely to just give them more work/more stretching work.

Robs20 Fri 27-Sep-19 07:48:03

I agree with others saying you should speak to your boss again. In the meantime, use this time to learn as much as you can about the company - read the website, look at competitor websites, depending on the sector you working in look at sector news websites. Boring but will help pass the time! If it really doesn’t get any better I would look for another job....

Mooncupblues Fri 27-Sep-19 07:53:40

Oh I remember this from when I started a new job. So so awkward and difficult (and tiring as you say!!) to try and look busy all day!!

jakarta Sun 29-Sep-19 10:44:55

Thanks again for suggestions
Friday was again a very slow day, only being asked to complete a 10 min task

However, as a pp had suggested, I tried creating my own work. I did some competitor research, and added much more detail to my previous report of ‘improvements’. I took my time but by 3pmish there wasn’t much I could add so after emailing it to manager, I was left to rename/delete files on my computer, and pretend to read things (which I’d already read)

Despite creating my own tasks, I will admit I still felt worthless and embarrassed. As it’s an open plan office, I’m paranoid that colleagues could see I was doing something that perhaps isn’t even necessary, and worse still that they may find it funny I could ever have any valuable information for them because I’m the most junior, with no experience (never worked in an office for starters, let alone a relevant role)

I’m convinced when I leave my desk they probably have a right laugh, and can picture them saying “wtf is Jakarta even doing?”

I think a lot of this paranoia is due to hearing my manager slating others behind their back, and how he regularly has things to talk about with colleagues but will rarely say anything to me.

I really wish I could be invisible- I think offices would be soo much better if they weren’t open plan

Icedlatte Sun 29-Sep-19 11:04:08

Hi OP, I'm a head of marketing, and have worked my way up through the ranks.

Marketing is a bit of a self writing job, those who do well have a knack for spotting an opportunity to do something and making it happen.

I don't think asking you to look for potential website improvements is a made up task, it's exactly the type of task I'd give any of my juniors and is a very important part of optimising existing marketing channels (as the leader I am on to the next big campaign plan, I need the team to ensure the things already in place are working well and websites need constant attention to keep them performing)
I would expect you to spend a few days reviewing the website, then come back to me with your suggestions, including a plan of what you can implement yourself and what is beyond your skill level. Thus would in turn create work for your to do list.
If he hasn't asked for your findings it doesn't mean it's not important, just that his mind is on other things. He will appreciate you reporting back on your progress/completion of the task.

It is absolutely fine, on a weekly basis, to go to him with a list of what you know have to do that week (even if it's only a few things) and ask what else he would like you to do. This kind of proactivity is appreciated, not something to be ashamed of!

Best of luck op, moving from retail to a marketing team is a shift in working style, I hope you find your speed soon

rockingthelook Sun 29-Sep-19 19:14:56

I worked in a lovely place for lovely people but nothing to do, once you'd done your daily tasks there was quite literally nothing to do. I cleaned everything from top to bottom, asked for extra work, other colleagues just laughed and took 2 hours to do a 10 minute task, it was so stressful genuinely doing nothing. Under work is as bad as overwork, time goes by so slowly, people who are happy doing nothing can't understand it, eventually I left, I told them the reasons why and also that I felt bad taking their money for doing nothing, suggesting my replacement should be part time to save them money, guess what?.... they replaced me with another full time, my new job is great, lots to do, no boredom and a feeling of satisfaction every day

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