One of the primary reasons I chose Cooper Parry for my secondment (employee exchange) was due to feedback from a previous secondee who thought CP was nothing short of the greatest place to work. Her feedback was so positive. A direct quote from the original e-mail to me: “I made absolute lifelong friends there because their people are so amazing.” I am lucky to have been able to experience this first hand.
Mueller’s culture is amazing and I feel that I have made incredible friends through work, and it feels just as welcoming at CP as it does at Mueller. It is refreshing to leave work in the States where I am comfortable with all of my coworkers and generally have an amazing time at work, to come here and feel similarly. Right off the bat I was placed with a large team on a big client and found myself getting along with everyone. I mentioned previously that I went to Manchester with one of my coworkers; the same coworker ended up living with me for a week due to him living relatively far from his client. I also ended up going out for a curry (term when you go out for Indian food) with some of the guys that play football together, then going out for a night in Nottingham where they showed me the best pubs and bars the town has to offer. Although I have not had a lot of time to see everyone from CP on the weekends due to the amount of travelling I have been doing, I am looking forward to October which already includes pub trivia, watching the McGregor fight (at 3:30 in the morning…) and a round of leaving drinks in the coming weeks.
As an auditor I spend a significant amount of time in the field and am on a new client every week or two. It is similar at CP, but the clients are larger and need more attention and therefore more time. The big difference with CP is the office environment. When we do get the opportunity to spend time in the office, we love to take advantage of it and have a little fun where we can. We make sure we get plenty of work done, as our deliverables still have a deadline, but as with Mueller, CP works hard and plays hard. On a standard day in the office I recorded what typically happens.
8:30 – Arrive and set up my equipment at a monitor on the “zig-zag” desk that audit typically uses. People filter in between 8:00 – 9:00 with a few stragglers arriving before 8:00 or after 9:00. The time you come in is quite flexible, and management is much more concerned with you getting your work done, although you do still have to put in 37.50 hours every week. Additionally, CP does “hoteling”, which means no one has an assigned desk (not even the Partners!) and you are able to sit wherever you would like in the office. Each department has an area where they generally sit, but you can feel free to sit with tax or outsourcing.
9:30 – Tea round time. See my last post for my description of tea rounds. Unfortunately, in the office we have not typically done the question part, but it is nice to take turns getting drinks. The Brits have to have their tea.
11:00 – There are several unique characteristics of CP and one of my favorites is the treadmill desk. There are two of these in the office that you can reserve via the e-mail system, similar to how you would reserve a room. I booked at 11:00 and headed over. There is a large space to place your laptop, and the treadmill can increase in speed to anything you would like. I found a comfortable walking pace at 2.5 MPH which enabled me to work. I have always wanted to have a standing desk, so the fact that I got to walk for 45 minutes when I would typically be sitting was a great feeling.
12:00 – Lunch time. A perk of CP is their own lunch service. There are specials each day and it is subsidized by the company, so most lunches cost between £3 – £4 ($3.90 – $5.20). Although the lunch is good, the game time is better. The first day I was surprised to see several people playing Wii bowling. There is an Xbox, pinball machines, and a ping pong table. A few of the guys in the audit department play ping pong every time they are in the office, so I took to joining them for doubles.
The remainder of the day is generally pretty standard. More tea rounds, chatting, and getting work done. One piece of equipment CP has is a nap pod. This operates by playing music designed to put you to sleep and wake you up all within 20 minutes. Management found studies that show a 20 minute nap during the day improves productivity by 33%. Unfortunately, people are scared to use it. I can’t say I blame them, if someone asked me to have a workpaper completed by the end of the day and they found me napping, I am not sure they would be very happy!
Overall I have had a great time with my coworkers here at CP. They have made me feel welcome, and so far have shown me that they like to have as much fun as we do back home. The final stretch is coming up, and I can’t wait to see what this last month holds.