At a smaller company like PortMA, situations frequently arise where you are called to do work that falls outside of your typical job description. With a coworker out sick for an entire week, I worked in both the field and client services roles for a set of projects for a whole week. While many would consider this a burden and a hassle, it was a learning experience.
The week started out as expected, with my approaching all of the work I had to do normally for the projects in my department: field services. I sent some emails typically managed by Client Services, but overall it was a fairly regular start of the week. It didn’t seem like this would be a big deal. I knew I had extra things to do, but everything seemed manageable.
By the time Wednesday had rolled around things had really changed. I was working on aspects of reports I hadn’t spent time with in ages, and I was struggling with the work. I was so used to the field services perspective on data that trying to frame everything in a client centric manner was difficult for me. The work was slow going, which was not a good place to be in given all the extra I had to do that week. But, because of the added work, I was learning. Not only was my perception of data changing, but how I looked at my job was changing. I was seeing the work clearly from both sides. I could better understand what parts of what I was doing in field services were most important, and how I could do them better. I had been running numbers a particular way, because it was what had been setup at the start of the project. With a better understanding of what those numbers were accomplishing, I could streamline the process. I could run them in a way that was cleaner, but also helped us to predict more accurately where the project would end.
By the end of the week, I not only appreciated just how much work went into some of what my coworkers were doing, but I also had revamped how my understanding of my role, and how to be the best co-worker I could be. When working in field services (or any job), it’s difficult to balance the need to do everything and the need to have an intimate understanding of what purpose any given item serves. But by taking the time to understand a project, not just from your own perspective, but from your coworker and client’s perspective, you can not only make better decisions about how to work on that project, but you can also increase your efficiency at the same time.