“You’ll miss us, y’know? You’ll get bored with nobody to talk to.”
Words said to me on my last day working in payroll in May 2018. You see, people are creatures of ego. Massive, massive ego and most people believe that your sole purpose of going to work is to bask in their presence.
It’s not – unless it’s me because, well, I’m fantastic, but that’s by-the-by.
It’s been three months since I quit the day job and went freelance, so I thought it would be a great time to think about my days working in an office and compile a ‘Shit I Don’t Miss‘ list.
And no matter whether you’re a freelancer yourself, or are still working in an office, I’m sure there are lots of things below you’ll be able to relate to.
The Shit I Don’t Miss List
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love people. I love working with clients. It’s fab.
But plonk me back in an office full-time?
Well, I might just end it all by trying to force down whatever’s gone green inside that Tupperware box Barbara put in the communal fridge in February and hasn’t been arsed to chuck away.
So, without further rambling, and in no particular order, here’s the shit I don’t miss about working in an office.
1. Team Building Exercises
“It’ll boost morale.”
No, it won’t. What it will do is show how slow Steve is at reading out the next clue when you’re in a race against time against other departments.
If it’s outside, more than likely, it’ll piss it down, and if there are smokers in your team, they’ll bog off for a fag.
No boosted morale ever came from a team building exercise.
If you want to make staff happy, instead of finding clues all afternoon, just send them home – they’ll be much happier.
2. Office Gossip
“Chloe and Pete are getting quite chatty, aren’t they? Bet something’s going on. She’s got two kids an all.”
The never-ending circle of silly gossip that people seem to need to make their day that little bit more interesting. Usually, it’s something fabricated and spread around maliciously. Or they’ll be sniggering at somebodies weight.
People have nothing better to do than make shit up when they should be working – probably because there’s nothing interesting about their own life.
3. Rubbish TV Chat
“Did you see Love Island last night?”
And it usually lasts for the duration of a programme’s run – and it’s usually a reality show.
I don’t watch Love Island. Big Brother. I’m A Celeb or the other multitude of dross that’s years past its watch by date.
But I’ll be asked if I’ve watched them, then tortured not only by having to listen to every pointless detail of something I have no interest in, but they’ll ask me if I watched it the next day too.
Ask them if they’ve watched the football though and they’ll tut and tell you not to be so stupid.
4. Commuting Tales
“I had to swap trains at Edge Lane and wait fifteen minutes.”
I used to work with somebody who could drive, but chose to commute on the train every day. There were endless strikes in 2017/18 as well as stations closed for refurbishment.
But still they commuted by train and replacement buses – and boy did we get a train story every single day.
And I mean that.
Every. Single. Day.
For an entire year.
Thomas the Tank is a train, but even he’d feel like getting smacked off his tits after twelve months of train stories.
5. The Christmas ‘Do’.
“You have to go, it’s Christmas.”
I’ve been to many a Christmas ‘Do’.
However, all but one was a complete waste of time and money.
You’re either forced to go to some large tent in a remote out-of-town venue with other businesses with no way of getting home until the coach comes back at 2 am.
Or, if it’s an inner-city one, it’ll be to see some crappy tribute act followed by a piss-poor meal made memorable only by its inability to break down in your mouth, forcing you to swallow the damn thing whole in the hope you don’t choke to death.
Then you have drunk colleagues.
Colleagues either so drunk they embarrass themselves to the point it’s no longer funny, or worse, they turn into an even bigger gobshite.
Before long they’re airing their dirty laundry to everyone, ranting about how useless their partner is and how they hate Jane in accounts.
I’m all for Christmas.
I love it.
But a works Christmas party?
I’ll never, ever miss those.
6. The Birthday/Leaving Card and Envelope
“It’s Debbie’s birthday, do you want to chip in?”
Who in Christ’s name is Debbie?
I’m not adverse to signing a card and chipping in for the colleagues I work with. They’ve done the same for me, and it’s appreciated.
But then one lands on your desk for somebody you’ve never met.
You’ll be told they’ve worked there 25 years and even though you’ve been there a healthy five or six yourself, you’ll have never come across Debbie in your life.
And you’ll be expected to lob in more money than you’d spend on your own families birthday presents.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the table decorations. You’ll be picking foil out of your keyboard for weeks – and if you’ve thrown it all over somebody else’s desk, they won’t thank you for it either, regardless of it being their birthday or not.
When it comes to leaving cards, I have some advice on signing them for people you’ve never met.
“To [insert name you’ve never heard before here],
Gonna miss our chats – remember Vegas?
What a weekend that was!
Do it, you know you want to.
7. The Office Clown
“Isn’t Frank hilarious?”
No. No, he’s not.
Come on. We all know a Frank.
The problem with people like Frank is is that they’re never funny and more often than not, they’re completely inappropriate too.
It’s okay for Frank to say inappropriate things. His jokes are often a bit sexist and a tiny bit racist – but that’s okay, that’s just Frank being Frank.
The Frank’s of this world will have taken up the position of office joker with neither the skills nor wit to make people laugh.
Half the time you’ll chuckle through gritted teeth as you’re picturing his head in your hand as you drown him in a toilet bowl at some point before you hand in your notice.
8. The Watcher
“You’ve barely done a thing all morning.”
You know who I’m talking about.
That one person who always has something to say about what you’re doing or not doing.
Now, I think we can all agree, at some point during a working week, we slack off for a few minutes to have a quick chat. Nothing wrong with that, you need a break. Staring at a screen all day will destroy your eyes and brain – so a few minutes away from the screen will do you good.
But yes, there’s that one person watching. Taking a note every time you stop to talk, get a cup of tea, go to the loo or stretch.
And they’ll take great delight in telling you how many minutes you’ve not been working.
Doesn’t matter they’ve done bugger all all morning due to watching everybody else, that’s not how it works.
9. Child Chat
“I can’t believe what our Molly said, I don’t know where she gets it from – she’s off her head!”
I love my nieces and nephew.
But when you work with people with kids then wave goodbye to anything remotely approaching normal conversation.
Every conversation revolves around children.
Now, I’ll chat about a colleagues child, in moderation it’s fine, but it rarely is.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a conversation about your favourite flavour yoghurt without it tailing off into a story about how their child dropped yoghurt on themselves.
Whether you’re talking about intensive farming, cantilever roofing or sewers – it’ll come back to what their child said or did.
Or they’ll say: “You can have her if you like, she’s a nightmare.”
No thanks, Tina, stop trying to palm your child off to others every day, little Molly sounds like the anti-Christ.
“Surely not, Matthew?”
Now, let me be clear.
Despite all of the above – I don’t hate colleagues.
Even as a freelancer you’re still working with people on projects. These people become your colleagues and bosses – to some extent.
And for some work, you may have to meet and work in an office for a client.
By not missing colleagues, I mean I don’t miss having them.
I’ve worked with some amazing people down the years, but do I:
- Wish I worked with a group of people?
- Prefer getting up, staying at home, sitting in my office and writing by myself?
It’s the latter.
I miss the people, but I don’t miss working in an office full of people five days a week.
So, there it is, my ‘Shit I Don’t Miss‘ list about working in an office.
If I’ve made you chuckle – brilliant.
If I’ve offended you because you work in an office – well, in my defence the above list is just a bit of fun but I’m sure you can relate to a couple, if not all.
One day I may have to work in an office again full-time and if that day comes, I’ll be sad to no longer be working for myself at home.
But, to quote Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings, it is not this day!
Until next time,
PS. If you’re thinking of leaving office work behind, check out my blog post: My First Three Months As A Freelancer.
I hope it helps you make the leap yourself!