Every morning at 8:30, a gentle chime sounds over the intercom, and the company song plays. Everyone in the office, about fifteen of us, stands up and circles around. Our general manager, an erstwhile marathon runner, stretches and touches his toes. Then one of the employees reads from the company creed, the words of the founder, and the rest of us repeat after him/her in a soft murmur. Then we go around the circle, and each person says what he or she will do today.
I understand about 60% of this, mostly the jokes and the travel plans. I’m not familiar enough yet with what people in this office do. When the circle comes around to me, I quickly stumble through some kind of plan for the day, my Japanese inadequate, but everyone nods politely, as if what I said is worthy of respect.
Today is Friday, and I notice that people add comments about their next week’s goals and commitments, as well. I skip that part.
When the meeting ends, it turns out Friday is also cleanup morning. Everyone bustles around, gathering carpet rollers and dust cloths. Janitors don’t enter this area because of information security zoning, and cleaning together is part of team building (as well as cost busting). I stand there looking stupid, and the director of the India office laughs and rolls the carpet sweeper under my desk. “There’s someone meeting in the conference room where we keep the cleaning supplies, so we can’t get to them,” he says, excusing my inaction. He then cleans under the desk of the office admin, who turns around and cleans under his.
At lunch on the first day, I asked if they held this status meeting every day. “Yes,” said Yumi. “Standing up keeps the meeting short, don’t you agree?” Good point.