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AsiaAsia CommentTaipan

When work gets in the way of toilet breaks

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Being a senior banker means a lot of boozy client lunches and non-stop travel in business class. But of course, before climbing up the banking ladder, we all have to go through the grind.

My least favourite part of the job was the endless conference calls. But with time and experience, I had made peace with it, finding the mute function on the phone my best friend.

For example, when I had late evening calls being led by someone else, I could be found at the pub with my mobile on mute. That tactic has caught on now with even some of the more junior analysts, who are brave enough to dial in and then get on with their lives.

But sometimes things can go really badly, as a young chap I know found recently. This guy had been chained to his seat all day, slaving away to put the finishing touches on an important pitch. So much so that, come the time of the 15-people conference call — hosting his entire team, his boss, his boss’s boss as well as the client — the guy found himself desperate for a toilet break.

Being green, he was petrified to put his headset down and go do his business, for fear of being put on the spot for a life-or-death comment.

So instead, he took the headset with him, but ended up making a rookie mistake — of not checking his phone was on mute.

The poor guy broadcast his men’s room experience to everyone on the call. But while the client was nice enough not to comment, the team was sent a notice from the top a few days later — banning headsets from leaving employees’ seats.