There’s nothing like changing employers (eg. leaving UniSA for the world of contracting) to make you realise there’s lots of things you need to (or should) know, either before you start or very soon after.

Each workplace is different - some things will be common (eg. provision of toilets!), but there can be differences or variations.

In no particular order, here are some things that came to mind:

  • Where is the light switch? Especially if you are the first to arrive and it’s still dark!
  • Where are the toilets?
  • Are there shower facilities? Essential should you wish to ride to work.
  • Speaking of bike riding, is there somewhere you can leave your bike (and smelly bike clothes)? Sheltered and secure would be nice.
  • What kind of workstation will you have? How many monitors, processors/cores, RAM, Vista or XP, etc.
  • Are tea and coffee provided?
  • Is it family friendly - specifically do they accommodate flexible work hours? Handy if you need to pick up or drop off kids.
  • What facilities (shops, banking, food) are close by?
  • Does a “social” culture exist? Are there morning/afternoon teas, birthday celebrations, team lunches, sporting or interest groups, movie nights, barbecues, etc.
  • Do your workmates have a sense of humour? Do they appreciate yours!
  • Is occupational health and safety taken seriously? Is the non-obvious boiling water tap in the kitchen appropriately labelled, or is it a scalding accident waiting to happen!
  • What is the most common form of communication - face-to-face, email, IM, phone, pigeons? If not face-to-face, how quickly do people respond - immediately, within the hour, next day, etc.
  • Are workmates encouraged to give “read” access to their calendars so you can easily find where people are, or is there some other facility (whiteboard, in/out board) used to indicate where someone is.
  • Do you know what to do if there’s an evacuation or you need first-aid?
  • Where is the fax machine and the printer?
  • Is there full or restricted access to the Internet? Are there  restrictions on using IM, Skype etc.
  • Are there extra duties or rosters you are expected to fulfil? Washing dishes, cleaning the fridge, buying the milk.
  • Is there a helpdesk? And do they actually help!
  • Can you make STD (interstate) or mobile phone calls from your office phone?
  • Is it generally safe and secure? Can you leave your wallet on your desk and expect it to be there later.
  • Is there an ID card or sign-in process to control physical access?
  • Can you work remotely or do they expect you to be physically in the office? If working remotely, what security requirements need to be met to connect into the work network.
  • What’s the car parking like and how close is it to public transport?
  • Where is the stationery cupboard?

Can you think of anything else I’ve forgotten?