A user manual for Matt

Inspired by Cassie Robinson.


Cassie has written this amazing blogpost → A user manual for me and as I loved it so much (there aren’t enough ‘claps’ on Medium for it) and she shared her template I thought I would have a go at it myself.

I tend to think of myself as pretty self-aware and open but actually this was harder than I expected and it isn’t as coherent nor as concise as Cassie’s. Then again my writing rarely is!

So anyway here we go:

Conditions I like to work in

  • I actually like the buzz of an office and having people around but there are limits to the amount of noise even I can handle (it was rarely reached at ONS — it is now daily at my co-working space.)
  • I like having my own (messy) desk space. I hate hot-desking.
  • I like to have space to pace and think on my feet but am aware this can be distracting for others

The times/hours I like to work

  • I prefer to start work about 08.00–08.30 but at the moment it is nearer 09.00 — if it is later my day is a mess.
  • I check email and Slack before leaving the house in the morning and will respond to urgent queries on the bus if need be.
  • I write best in the late afternoon / evening but am better in collaborative settings in the morning.

The best ways to communicate with me

  • Slack is the quickest way to get a response from me
  • Actually that isn’t true Twitter DMs are
  • I will never answer my phone, but I look at text messages
  • I keep on top of my emails each week and usually respond within a few days at the latest.

The ways I like to receive feedback

  • Not sure — about this. I never liked feedback full stop until it came from Laura when I was at ONS but saying feedback needs to come from a friend I trust and admire and have known for years seems a bit unfair 🙂

Things I need

  • I need people to bounce ideas of and to have people challenge me. I like to do this in face to face situations which is a challenge in a remote organisation.
  • I need time to think and a forum to share.
  • Openness — I have no stomach for organisation politics nor risk aversion.

Things I struggle with

  • I struggle with having to be ‘on’ for long periods or in new environments — thus my absolute horror at our residential meetings.
  • Discussions without decisions. The desire to be collegiate sometimes overwhelms the need to get things done.
  • Inflexibility in others — I subscribe to the ‘strong opinions, loosely held’ school of thought and perhaps can be too willing to compromise to move things forward but fast become frustrated with dogmatic behaviour.
  • Working remotely is an ongoing struggle for me. I miss feeling physically part of a team, the osmosis that comes from sitting amongst your colleagues and the camaraderie that instills. I’m getting used to it and having a great team helps but I miss it.

Things I love

  • I like hearing what others are working on and making sure colleagues less inclined towards self publicity get the credit they deserve
  • Blogging and being supported in working in the open
  • Being part of an organisation that I believe in and that does work I admired before I joined and will after I leave (some day long in the future.)
  • My colleagues (everywhere, everytime) and my network.

Other things to know about me

  • Like Cassie I use my intuition a lot to make decisions
  • My favourite saying is “this is a team sport.”
  • I don’t like or drink coffee
  • I have no poker face. I suspect part of the reason I am so open is I have no choice as people can read me like a book.
  • Despite something of a reputation for being outgoing and a networker I am incredibly shy and find conferences etc exhausting. The only time I am comfortable is on stage.
  • I don’t mind playing bad cop when required but am happiest when I get to play ‘diplomat’ — bringing people, teams or organisations together.
  • It is hard for me to avoid sports metaphors!