Have you ever been forced to work on a holiday when you already had plans? Well, the IT department at this company had to. The department lead came up with an idea of how to make working on the holiday fun for everyone.
The man who orchestrated this plan, we’ll call him ‘James,’ worked in the IT department of his company. The IT team was moved to a smaller building with a gaming room and a decent-sized gym, and it had a big field at the back of it.
While working there, James and his department were not always treated the best. They got ignored and forced to work on holidays. James decided to embrace the fact they all have to work and throw a party for all of the IT team and their friends and family. Will James take things too far and get in trouble with upper management, or will the party be a successful event?
On June 13th, James received an email from a VP who was not in the IT department, we’ll call her ‘Emily.’ Emily informed James he and the rest of the team were going to be required to work on the Fourth of July. James tried to tell her they all had the day scheduled off and had already made plans. No other department had to work on the holiday, so it was extremely unfair to ask the IT department to do so.
Over the course of the week, James let his team know he was going to reach out to the higher-ups and try to fix the issue.
Obviously, they were all frustrated at the news because the last place they wanted to spend their Fourth of July was at work. James promised them if their plans got ruined, he would make it right. They all put their trust in James and hoped he would follow through with his promise.
He had three meetings and it wasn’t seeming like he was going to get his way. Then he sent an email to the CEO, but he was on vacation until July sixth. He thought that was it and everyone would be able to work from home, but then he received a phone call.
Then, a day later, a phone call came in, but not with the news James was hoping for. Emily told him the employees would have to be at the office, and no one could work from home. It seemed odd considering the tasks the IT department had could be done remotely. She said they would verify whether or not people entered the building using their badges. Apparently, she didn’t want the employees playing video games at work. Yeah, those are the Fourth of July plans people had, totally.
Side note: the employees worked from home two-thirds of the week anyway, so if video games were actually an issue, they would not offer a hybrid working environment.
Clearly, they just wanted to make them work on the holiday.
James decided he was sick of the nonsense and walked to VP Emily’s office to have a discussion. The conversation was long and James felt like he was talking to a brick wall at times. It was a lot of back and forth with no agreement in sight.
She even told James, “It’s just IT. You guys don’t even have lives.”
This annoyed James and he decided he was going to talk to his VP, we’ll call him ‘Rob,’ and tell him about the situation.
Rob said, “I will take care of this. However, it likely won’t be until after the fourth, so get creative.”
After all of this occurred, James asked Emily, who was requiring them to be in the office, if they could have an office party since they were going to be there anyway.
She said it was fine as long as the call flow did not get messed up. Emily suggested using James’s company card. She even told him to “go wild.” James had the green light to throw an office party, and it will be wild and one no one would forget indeed.
Setting Up The Plan
It was June 21st; getting closer to the big event. On that day, James wanted his plan to go smoothly. Also, for everyone to have a great time because they deserved it.
In fact, he filled his team in on what had been going on but told them not to worry because he had a plan. He went around the room and asked everyone who had something planned for the Fourth of July. Some people said fireworks with their families, and others were planning to have barbecues with their friends.
James wrote an email to the IT department’s VP Rob, as well as VP Emily who wanted to make them work on the holiday in the first place.
He wrote, “Hi, Rob and Emily,
My IT team knows the situation and how they were all supposed to work until eight p.m. We are having an office party as an apology to all the inconvenienced staff, get excited!”
Emily replied and was all for the party idea.
She said, “Hi, James, if you’re working on the holiday, you definitely deserve to have a party. Go ahead and use the company card to cover a few expenses, and remember, James, there are no fireworks allowed on company grounds or beverages inappropriate for the workplace.”
All was looking up, and since James got the green light, the party planning commenced. James started to make important phone calls to work out all of the party planning details.
The Fourth Of July
It was June 25th. James called everyone to a meeting that morning. He was telling them all how he was going to make their Fourth of July great and make up for being at work. James told everyone they could bring their friends and their family to the office.
Then he explained how all the food and drinks would be provided, so they wouldn’t have to pay for anything unless they wanted to bring fireworks.
July fourth came around, and no one did any work. There were no help tickets and no calls came in. Well, about seven calls came in from Emily. She kept calling to check in on everything to make sure they were still paying attention to the phone calls. Everyone was having a good time and playing video games or watching movies.
When six p.m came around, it was time to eat. Everyone expected the food to be basic barbecue food, but the company card paid for the food. James made sure the guests and employees at this party were fed well. They served smoked brisket, spare ribs, smoked sausage, smoked turkey, all kinds of potato salad, pizza, hamburgers, brats, and more. It’s safe to say they had quite the feast. James catered delicious desserts too. There were two pounds of fudge, cake, cookies, and four types of pie. Needless to say, James did not shy away from using his company card to its fullest capabilities.
The family and friends all showed up at the time the food arrived. Then some of the guests brought beverages, but James didn’t want to take things too far. He told them to leave them in the car. Everyone was having a grand time chatting and playing with sparklers or other smaller fireworks.
Even VP Rob showed up with his family.
Around eight-thirty, it was getting dark, and people wanted to set off more than the simple fireworks they were already doing. Rob told everyone to go over across the bridge in the back of the property. Technically, they were not on company property anymore.
They all set off fireworks for another hour or so, and just continued to enjoy each other’s company.
After the night of fun, people were ready to go home. James told everyone to take home leftovers. Shortly after everyone left, all the employees clocked out at eight but did not leave until 10:30. Emily called again right before everyone left for a status update, but there was nothing to report.
Everyone ate roughly half of the food catered. People volunteered to stay behind and clean up the mess, including Rob.
James and Rob had a funny conversation about how the party would make waves and the bosses would likely not be very happy. He told James he had his back through it all and asked how much everything was. James looked at him with a sideways look which made them both chuckle a bit.
The Tuesday after, James submitted the expense report to Rob. Little did he know, the email would eventually reach Emily and the CIO of the company, so James was preparing for the fallout. Since James had this party, management set a new rule in place. Any expenses over 4,000 bucks or more needed approval by the direct supervisor, and a full expense report needed to be sent to the finance department for review right after. The party James threw was over 6,000 bucks.
The barbecue food he ordered was the most expensive part because he chose to order it from a top 10 place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The sweets he ordered were from bakeries, and the cookies were from a boutique cookie place. The party James threw was the most expensive office party in company history. Good on James for supporting small businesses, right? The higher-ups would probably disagree.
Then, of course, the CEO became angry about the situation at large.
But, ironically, the party was not what he was angry about. It angered him how the people in the IT department were the only ones who were required to go in that day. He knew if it wasn’t the case, the party wouldn’t have needed to happen in the first place. The CEO cared about everyone in the company, so when he found out about one singled-out department and how they had to work a holiday, he was not happy and would soon get to the bottom of the issue.
James submitted logs showing no calls, no service requests, and how they just played video games to the CEO. He heard enough and sent out an email to all the upper management explaining how work-life balance is important along with holidays.
Then, Emily sent an apology email, but James forwarded it to the other members of the IT team essentially telling them not to reply because she only apologized because the higher-ups found out.
The CEO ended up finding out about Emily saying “IT people have no lives” and full-on screamed at her for it (as he should).
All in all, James didn’t think they fired her, but she definitely lost any credibility and respect among other members of the company. Maybe next time (if there will be one), miss Emily will think twice about messing with IT department people, or anyone for that matter, again.
The Author’s Thoughts
After reading this story, I noticed all James wanted to do was make sure his team felt like someone was in their corner.
Especially since VP Emily liked to think IT department members didn’t have lives. He did just that and everyone had an amazing time at the party. He supported small businesses with his company card and made everyone at his workplace understand how the IT department was a force to be reckoned with. Way to go James.