The Trouble with Offices

The title of this post might lead you to believe it is a rant about work. It is not. In fact, I am loving every single project I am currently working on, feeling busy, and thisclose to launching an entirely new brand all my own. Work life is pretty great.

But my return to working in an actual office as opposed to working from home has made me realize just how incredibly different the environments are and how much more focus and energy I have when I work from home.

What made me notice? The fact that I needed my first afternoon caffeine fix since October. I never feel slumpy or tired when I work from home!

1. Out of control temperatures – This time of year, this one is huge. I have always worked in offices that managed to be sweltering all winter long and ice boxes in the summer. At my last job, I worked wrapped in a blanket. Forget wearing sandals or sleeveless shirts. Fingers too numb to type interfere with productivity. On the contrary, working from home allows me to open the windows all summer long, basking in the heat. And occasionally turning on the ac. It’s all about my comfort, like it should be, right?

2. Food limitations – Packing food to bring to work is one of my least favorite tasks. Figuring out foods that won’t be soggy or damaged in some way is a pain in the you know what. At home? If I want an omelet for lunch, I whip one up. Fresh salads, smoothies, snacks, my body is immensely happier.

3. Stale air – I may be a bit of a hypochondriac, but I have often thought that the air in offices is just plain bad. A few jobs ago when I saw the maintenance men changing the filter above my desk, which was covered in black mold, that thought was cemented. I feel like the air itself makes workers drowsy.

4. Ringing phones and music – I like noise. I can’t sleep without a fan and/or sound machine, and I listen to my own music all day. But thrust me into a bank of cubicles with various phones ringing and vibrating all day long, and I can’t cope. Especially with the people who leave their cell phone ringers on but just let them ring. Really?

5. Contagious negativity – Camaraderie or Debbie Downers? I feel as though in office culture, complaining leads to more complaining and an overall sense of negativity. Certainly there are those times when it is almost a team building exercise to complain about valid issues, but after being out of it for awhile, I can look back and think about how one person or group’s complaints could quickly invade the entire workplace. At home? I have dance parties when I am stressed or annoyed. Should I be telling the world that? I am generally a lot more positive, and if I have a grievance to air, there’s always Twitter. Winking smile

6. Bad lighting – I know this one affects me. I have worked in environments with fabulous natural lighting, only to have coworkers who insisted on flicking on the fluorescent overheads. These lights affect me big time, there is no question. They aren’t good for anyone. In the casa? I don’t use lights at all, unless it is night. But it’s after 9 at night, and I am typing this in the dark. I like to be cheap green.

7. Wasted down time – Here’s a big one. While I have certainly worked in jobs where I have been swamped, I never appreciated just how productive I can be until I worked from home. Waiting to hear back from one client? I start on work for another. 20 minutes lull? Throw in some laundry, go for a run, write a blog post. The freedom at home to fill every minute of my day with some sort of task so I can truly enjoy my evenings and weekends is the most blissful thing ever. Spinning in a chair and staring out the window in an office? Not my style. Not even for 5 minutes.

8. Getting dressed up can be so overrated – I get dressed when I work at home. I do. But during the day it usually involves some sort of workout clothing unless I have a meeting or event. Comfy and clean, I eliminate the stress of what to wear and focus on what I need to do that day. When I go to the office? Like a high schooler, I plan my outfit the night before. It’s just too much.

9. Sitting still – Like my mom, I am not one to sit still for long. At my last office, I had a door I could shut, and when my officemate was out, I definitely did downward dogs. I like to move and get up and drink a lot of water and don’t want to have to worry about walking past the same people 30 times a day.

10. Now you tell me why you like or dislike office life. I know some people who would never get a single thing done at home, with the temptation to watch TV or go back to sleep. For the record, I have a no TV rule, exceptions being made for Whitey Bulger’s arrival in Boston. Hey, it’s history.

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  1. Michelle’s avatar

    After working from home for a few months, I definitely feel the same way about some of those things. I’m generally more productive in an office and love being surrounded by co-workers, but I definitely can agree with #1 and #2!

    Reply

  2. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

    Couldn’t agree more! I don’t know that I’m a perfect fit for a work-at-home lifestyle but the flexibility to avoid all the things you mention is tempting. I like my office because it’s homey, gets great light and -best of all – is very accommodating. That said, I’m totally looking forward to going to part-time in a few weeks to I focus on my degree!

    Reply

  3. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    The a/c in the summer is the worst. I wear sweaters and long sleeves to work everyday and use a space heater!

    Reply

  4. Megan’s avatar

    I agree with you on all counts. Working at home is just so much better. You can get laundry done, make better meals, breathe real air (I sneeze so much more at work — definitely something about the stale air), and I’m not as negative at home either.

    Reply

  5. Jean | Delightful Repast’s avatar

    You covered all my faves! I think I most of all hate the overheating in winter – ridiculous!

    Reply

  6. Clarice’s avatar

    I usually keep the lights off in my classroom. I swear I can hear them buzzing.

    Reply

  7. Kristen @ Batterlicker.com’s avatar

    3, 7 and 9 are the biggest ones for me … especially 7. I work from home on Fridays and being able to go for a brief run or throw laundry in during a 20-minute lull makes a huge difference in how I feel at the end of the day.

    Reply

  8. Raija’s avatar

    I agree on almost ever count — why do I work in an office?!

    One thing that is difficult from home for me is communication — there is a lot of face-to-face informal communicating and coordinating that I miss at home. Also, I can get left out of impromptu meetings. I guess it is the people I miss most from home — but people can be distracting too.

    Also, I’ve heard of a girl who brought an exercise ball and a stationary bicycle peddler contraption to work so she wouldn’t have to sit still and stationary while at the computer. She can be pedalling or bouncing away — I wonder if something like that could help you?

    Reply

    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      That person looks like a nut. I’d rather just work from home. :)

      Reply

    2. Eric King’s avatar

      I am directly under a (no longer dusty) ac outlet – its either freezing (i grabbed my woolen sweater from my car today at lunch) or they shut off everything at 6pm – but we can work until 11pm at night :)
      PS. I love the idea of working from home.

      Reply

    3. Kelly’s avatar

      Very interesting post. I’ve never technically worked from home- though I do bring a lot of work home at night :) Some teachers stay at school until everything is done but I’d rather be able to do some work while watching tv/talking to my husband etc. However, I don’t think I could work at home all day, I like to talk to people too much haha and I always just FEEL less productive at home, but maybe that would change if I actually had to be productive at home because I was really working a full time job at home. Who knows. Very good points though- I am lucky I’ve never worked in an over AC’d place, in fact my summer job has no AC which sometimes I would rather. Who wants to wear a sweater and pants in July!?

      Reply

    4. Di’s avatar

      You talked about SO MANY of my issues with working in an office! It’s always cold, people leave their cell phone ringers on high and then leave ‘em at their desk (so uh, what’s the point?), all we do is complain some weeks, and the stale air! I swear I feel 100% more awake when I’m not here…and sometimes headaches go away just by leaving, too!

      Reply

    5. alicia’s avatar

      I’m on board with most of the environmental things, air, light, temperatures, sitting still all drive me nuts…..

      I loved one job I had in the hancock tower when I sat in a relatively isolated cubicle (one coworker with me) right next to a HUGE floor to ceiling window facing the public garden….so much natural light!

      Reply

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