Yes, Even the Commute!
I’m living the dream. I work from home and for myself.
So it’s difficult to explain why I miss working in an office – but I do.
You see, I’m able I set my own hours. I can work from my bed in my pajamas, while eating biscuits and listening to Alicia Keyes. If clients are chasing me I can say I have been in a meeting all day (which actually means I’ve been watching the last season of True Blood) and I can make up the hours (which actually means me working on spreadsheets at 2 am after two bottles of wine). So what’s the problem? Well working from home is actually not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact not working in an office is hard work.
Here are 10 things I miss about Office Life…
1. Water cooler banter
At home, I have no one to talk to and nothing to talk about. If I’m working on a client project I don’t have colleagues to bitch about it to, or throw ideas around with, or to gossip about who the Director is sleeping with and what his secretary found in his desk drawer that morning. Neither do I have colleagues to help me. Many a time I’ve turned around to say, ‘Oh could you just give me a hand with…’ But no – it’s just me and my manipulative, narcoleptic, selfish cat (and believe me, she’s no team player).
I don’t have a set lunch time. Sometimes I eat muesli on the sofa with my laptop on my lap. Or I don’t have lunch, just a big breakfast. Sometimes I just eat chocolate from dawn ‘til dusk. But whatever I am eating, I’ve had to make it myself and eat it alone. I miss working in the hustle and bustle of a big city when a lunch hour was planned with military precision. We would squeeze so much into those precious 60 minutes; we would have interesting things to eat in dodgy little side streets such as cheap sushi in plastic trays, Turkish kebabs or a jacket potato the size of my head. This would be eaten in exactly 12 minutes because we needed at least 45 minutes for our daily exercise…shoe shopping! Or on a Friday, lunch was warm Pinot Grigio in the local pub for three hours, which meant as long as the boss was there too we never had to go back to the office until Monday morning.
3. Free stuff
Binders, paper, pens, colour photocopies, staples, drawing pins…even a PS2 once. Why is it that anything in an office stationery cupboard is fair game? The excitement that rippled among my co-workers the week that the Office Manager ordered neon pink Post It Notes was unparalleled. Needless to say by the next day they were none left…and none on anyone’s desk either.
4. Meeting rooms
I miss them because I don’t have one. If I have to meet a client we have to meet in a neutral location like a bar (which means me buying drinks), their home (a long drive and money on petrol) or my home (which looks like the aftermath of a tornado in Toys R Us…so that’s professional).
Oh, how I long for the days of walnut wooden tables seating 18, secretaries bringing ice cold pitchers of water and pastries and an overhead projector (showing my age). On a good day my house is clean and my clients get a cup of tea, on a bad day I have to settle for a Skype call with no camera as my internet connection is so crap (or, if I’m to be totally honest, I’m still in bed with my face covered in chocolate).
5. A boss
Yes, I actually miss having a boss. Because I am my own boss and I am shit at it. You want a day’s holiday? Yeah, no problem. Want to extend the deadline? Yeah, no problem. Want more money…errr…but you haven’t worked all week. See? I need a bastard/bitch of a boss breathing down my neck, telling me it’s not good enough and then giving me a pay rise.
6. Work parties
Obviously. I can hardly pull a cracker alone, drunkenly slag off my non-existent boss and then puke all over the photocopier. I would only have to clean it up myself anyway.
7. The commute
Yes, I know, where did this one come from? I used to travel on an overground train and two tubes to get to work every morning. That was 2 hours and 20 minutes a day getting to and from work (now I just have to crawl from the bed to the sofa) – but it was two hours well spent. Because I had no choice but to just sit and wait for my chosen transport to arrive at my destination, it meant I had the chance to power nap, peruse the newspaper, read a book a week, plan that day’s presentation, write, daydream or surf the web. All of which if I do now, during my working hours, I just feel guilty.
8. Office romances
I had an office romance once. Well, it was a bit filthier than that…it involved a lot of email flirting, quick gropes in the lift and pretending we weren’t leaving together after work then dashing to the nearest hotel. But for most people, a bit of jokey banter with work colleagues will suffice. And I don’t have that anymore. I do have my clients, but they pay me so I can’t get too saucy, and my other work-from-home mates are on Facebook all day looking for some virtual company – but I can’t get too cheeky with them either. Hmmmm maybe I will have to join a dodgy dating site like Tinder just to make the time pass quicker during my working day?
9. An IT department
It’s broken. I have switched it off and on again. It still won’t work. So now what? Nothing, that’s what. Because my computer, internet, telephone, router…you name it…has been bought and installed and badly used by me. And I have to figure it out. Great.
10. Sodding about on someone else’s time.
What’s the best thing about working for someone else in an office that they are paying for? Getting paid monthly for an eight hour day, and not by the quantity of work you actually do. Unlike me. So for office workers, no matter how long you hang around the loos applying lipstick, popping out for a cigarette, gossiping at the coffee machine, raiding the stationery cupboard or getting touched up in the lift – you are getting paid for it. Result!
So next time you are staring at the clock tick, tick, ticking its way to 5pm and you are surrounded by dozens of others doing the same…think of me. You may not have much freedom, or flexibility, or choice as to what you do outside of your working hours, but at least you can have a laugh with your team members, buy a pair of shoes at lunchtime and fill up your handbag with free paper clips. Oh, those were the days!