What I've learned about office life

Posted on: Mar 20, 2015

office lifeIn a week’s time I will have said goodbye to my co-workers and to office life. As I’ve been freelancing part time for the past year I know how great working from home can be, as well as the potential pitfalls and distractions. But I will still miss working in an office – the unwritten rules of etiquette, the comradery, friendship and humour of my colleagues, the structure of going to a specific place to work for eight hours.

As a final farewell, here is my tongue-in-cheek list of what I’ve learned about office life. This blog has been inspired by my colleague Jason Bradshaw, whose tweets on #OfficeRules crack me up (they’re funny cos they’re true!).

- Climate control is impossible. You will always be either slightly too warm or slightly chilly. Silently seething wars of attrition will be waged between otherwise friendly colleagues on whether to have the window open or not. Layers are your friend.

- On receipt of a fax it is obligatory to make the following statement to your co-workers "Who sends a fax these days?" followed by two minutes of mockery concerning their ignorance of modern technology.

- Food is a constant source of entertainment and distraction. No more than 20 minutes may go by without one of the following phrases being uttered: What are you having for lunch? What are you having for dinner? Does anyone have anything sweet? What's that smell?

- The stationery cupboard is a lawless environment. No matter how carefully and lovingly you tidy those supplies, by the next day it will resemble the remnants of a particularly aggressive car boot sale. Don’t try to fight it.

- Any unopened parcels will be greeted by someone saying “Ooh, what’s that?” despite them knowing full well that the front office staff do not have the ability to see through Jiffy bags.

- Approximately 10% of your take-home salary will be donated to the Co-worker Birthday Fund. This is a non-negotiable aspect of working in an office and is unaffected by whether you like the co-worker in question or even know their name.

- It will be necessary for your tolerance of other people's verbal tics, smelly food/feet and general proximity to your personal space to be stretched to a point you never thought possible.

- You will measure the like-ability of people by how often they offer to make you a hot drink (aka The Tea Factor). And possibly by how generous they are with the contents of their snack drawer (everyone’s got one). Hiding snacks from your co-workers is frowned upon but recommended.

All this hard-earned knowledge is now useless to me, as it's farewell to office life and hello to home-working. Now where did I hide those snacks…

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