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Making the Mundane Meaningful

By Katie Robinson

Starting out in my career has often meant completing "mundane tasks"—making copies, going on coffee runs, ordering lunches, etc. Normally people would rather pass these tasks off to someone else than do them themselves, but I've always been able to approach these tasks with a different view. I owe that mindset to a college professor who planted a seed in my head. 

I remember one day when we were talking about internships during class my professor explained how coffee runs and making copies are actually important. They are a test. She went on to explain how if you can't make copies correctly no one will trust you with anything more important than that. Even the little effort you make when presenting their coffees with clean, non-dripping lids and the proper assortment of sugars laid out can illustrate your work ethic. If you take pride in what you do, then people around you see that you take your work seriously. These little details show your potential for future work with them. 

After my first full year of being officially in the workplace, that little seed my professor planted has grown into a little plant of hospitality. I've realized that every position has a sense of hospitality. I've come to describe my job as keeping people happy because of the amount of hospitality that is subtly involved in my position. It doesn't matter if I'm setting up for a small meeting or coordinating a large department celebration, the thought and effort that goes into the presentation makes a big difference.

I've seen the difference it's made in my career and on those around me. My so-called "thankless job" has become full of appreciation. The little details like remembering to have someone’s favorite soda on hand gives them the little energy they need to get through their next meeting. The neatly organized supply drawer allows people to quickly get what they need and move on. The clean workspace provides a calm environment to concentrate on the task at hand. 

The little loving improvements in hospitality create a happier and more grateful workplace. 

Katie Robinson is the Administrative Assistant for the Vice President of Production Management at Sesame Workshop and runs an advice blog called “Ask the Young Professional” where she gives advice to succeed, in and outside of work, as a savvy twentysomething.

Do you have an experience you would like to share about changing the culture in your workplace? Email us atinfo@murrayhillinstitute.org

From Clean to Serene

By Virginia Boles

This August, I began teaching at a school in Manhattan. I was working in the faculty lounge (a fairly small space where a lot of supplies are stored), and one of the other teachers mentioned, “Wow, they did a great job organizing this room! You should have seen it last year.” I was struck by how much the clean, orderly, cared-for space was appreciated by my co-workers. Now I’ve been there for a couple of months, and slowly but surely, the faculty lounge has begun to suffer the “tragedy of the commons.” From my co-worker’s comment at the beginning of the school year, I realized how much serenity an orderly, clean workspace can give. So, I’ve tried to do my part to keep the faculty room clean. It can be small things like changing the water cooler bottle when it runs out, emptying the trash can or putting in a new liner, throwing away the little shreds of paper left by the paper cutter, throwing away an empty cup left on a desk. These small details, which don’t take much time, make a huge difference after a while in keeping an area clean. It’s something that no one will notice if it’s taken care of, but that everyone will notice if it’s not taken care of. So with only a little bit of extra effort on our part, we can bring more serenity to our workplace, and help people be happier while they work.

Do you have an experience you would like to share about changing the culture in your workplace? Email us at info@murrayhillinstitute.org