I think it’s important to get to know your colleagues outside work

Marie Vesela

Regional HR coordinator (Central East Region)
Euro Pool System
Czech Republic

This is my first real job, and it feels very comfortable. I could already sense during my interview that the people here were nice. But one of my main reasons for wanting to work here was that what the company does matters to the environment. Makes me proud to be a part of that, and it makes the job more fulfilling.

We’re a big company, and yet people are seen and treated as individuals. The culture is human and informal, people are open-minded and honest, and we’re nice to one another. And it’s clear that this is all genuine, because we see each other outside work: we have dinner together, and take an interest in each other’s leisure activities. I think it’s important to get to know your colleagues outside work.

I’ve grown up in this company. Fresh out of university, I had no idea how one was supposed to behave in this sort of environment. But I’ve learned so much since I got here — how to shoulder the responsibilities of my job, how to trust my judgement, and how to explain what I do.

My most challenging period occurred during my manager’s maternity leave. We couldn’t find anyone to fill in, so I ended up doing it myself. It was a lot to take on; I practically slept at the office. But I’m now grateful for this accident of fate, because the experience was invaluable. I managed to keep on top of four countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Working with international colleagues provides moments of unintentional humour. For instance, when you try speaking to colleagues in their own language. Or when trying to understand what someone’s saying through a strange accent. Or when trying to decipher an email that’s clearly been fed through Google Translate. And then there are the cultural misunderstandings. We were having lunch with a Polish colleague, and he’d ordered a dumpling — you know the typical Czech ones with sauce. And I think he assumed it was a type of bread, because he picked it up with both hands. So yes, the mix of cultures is certainly interesting.

What I’d wish to see happen in the future? I wish all grocery stores offered recyclable, biodegradable or returnable bags. It upsets me to see so much plastic. Perhaps we should fill the gap. Or is that wishful thinking?