14 Things I DON’T Miss from my Day Job

Getting yourself free from the system and going out on your own can be both terrifying and liberating. I recently made the break went to work for myself again. Only then did it really hit home how senseless some companies can be in the digital age. These are things about working 9 to 5 that I don’t miss and I bet you won’t either when you make your escape.

1. The Computer They Gave Me

The computer they gave me

The new guy always gets the hand-me-down equipment until he proves himself right? I was issued a PC laptop used by a former employee who was apparently not well-liked. It was old, heavy, slow and ugly – essentially a typewriter running Windows XP. This piece of junk was built with more silicon than Pamela Anderson on the sands of Malibu Beach. In client meetings, it screamed loudly: “THIS GUY HAS ZERO CLOUT!”

I was horrified at not having the most essential of tools to do my job. I understand the idea behind hazing and gang initiations, but this was ridiculous. I even tried going BYOD but my personal laptop lacked a docking station port.

One of the first things the Mac users wanted to do was convert me to Mac. No problem. But I never could get an explanation of how my productivity would increase as a result of switching. Macs defined the trend of the age and I should just automatically want one. How they looked askance at me for even questioning this.

I guess that by placing a Mac on my desk, they thought I would be so overwhelmed by it’s presence that I’d want to begin using it, and that afterwards I would be so ecstatic that I’d cry out for one. I know it’s the 21st century and Steve Jobs is cool and all that. But this Mac looked like something out of a 1950’s sci fi film. Eventually, they placed a newer Macbook in front of me but I was so weirded out that I refused it, clinging instead to my familiar overweight bundle of silicon that sported Redmond’s finest 2001 software.

2. The Drive

Traffic Problems - Cows in the Road

Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to loud music in the car. Catching up with friends or duking it out with customer service on the phone is not a bad use of time either. But not for an hour every working day. That was the round trip time at my last day job.

3. The Interruptions

Kanye West Interrupting Taylor Swift

No workplace lacks a person willing to insert himself in the narrative to steal your glory, right? One of my favorite types of interruptions occurs when you’re working frantically to complete a project that the boss asked you to do, then he unexpectedly pops in your office and presents another project which he’s very excited about. Like the original project, the new project is of course an equally high priority.

Image Credit.

4. The Noise

Noise: Chainsaw While Working

For whatever reason, there are always those co-workers who want to be heard. Yelling, Laughing, giggling.

5. Office Politics

The Boss

It breaks my heart to see colleagues bend their principles to get favor from those in power. When right, I’ve found it’s much more satisfying to stand your ground than suck up to the boss. You’ll feel better for it the next day. The emperor will eventually come to the realization that he’s missing a few garments and the world will be a better place.

6. Potlucks

Office Potluck

I love the people I worked with. I can’t say the same for their spouses’ cooking. I volunteer to bring plates and napkins!

7. Meetings

Let's just have a Meeting

Meetings often become a substitute for doing the thing you’re meeting about. You’ve discussed the problem and speculated on solutions. Everyone feels better afterwards. But months later when the therapeutic meeting highs have fizzled out, some start to scratch their heads. Why didn’t it get done? Hmm… Time to set up a meeting.

8. The Coffee

Office coffee guy looks like Bernie Ebbers

Have you ever heard anyone brag about how great their work coffee tastes? I don’t have anything against Keurig coffee. It may be a quick and economical way to make some joe available for the troops, but you’re kidding yourself if you think the taste approaches that of carefully-brewed coffee. Also, the Keurig brewer doesn’t do any good unless you BUY THE K-CUPS! Let’s don’t forget the Mini Moos and powdered creamer! It’s an established fact that work coffee quality ranges from bad to average.

Bernie Ebbers, then CEO of WorldCom where I worked, cut the coffee service from the budget as a lame last-minute attempt at frugality to save the failing WorldCom. It didn’t work, thanks to the 11 billion in accounting misstatements that he presided over. I don’t miss bad coffee from stingy CEO’s, especially ones who drive their Mercedes to jail.

9. Fluorescent Lights

Blinding Flourescent Lights

Fluorescent lights are cheap, unnatural and they hurt! If you Google it, you’ll find plenty of worse things that researchers are saying about them in respect to their health effects. But don’t think for a minute that it’s going to break the age-old business tradition of reigning down as much glaring white light as possible on employees. Anyone else think fluorescent lights work against productivity in the office?

10. The Temperature

Cold Temperatures in the Office

For some reason, every office building everywhere is always too cold for everyone. That’s why employees are always bringing in those portable office heaters, you know, the ones that the local fire marshal disapproved because they are against safety regulations. Take another hint from the folks wearing jackets inside. And those out sick.

11. The Chair

Flimsy Office Chairs

How do you know when it’s time to provide healthier office furniture for the folks who make you rich? When they start BRINGING IN THEIR OWN CHAIRS! At nearly every company I’ve worked for in the past ten years, employees complain and ask management for more comfortable chairs and equipment. Management ignores them. If common sense isn’t enough, this attitude can be addressed by being informed about how ergonomics can “reduce days away from work and hours of productivity lost to discomfort.”

12. Time sheets

Don't forget to do your time sheets!

We don’t use hour glasses anymore for a reason. Paper or antiquated time-tracking software should be no exception. At one company where I worked, it could take an hour or more each month to verify and enter all the hours worked.

At another company, I was encouraged to enter all my hours by the end of each week. About six months into doing this, I quietly asked a co-worker if he was still performing this ritual.

“No, I don’t think anyone is entering their hours anymore.”

If I hadn’t asked, I suppose I’d have wasted even further time doing this very useless task.

Image source: tara callaghan

13. The Music

No, I DON’T LIKE THE BEE GEES! If we’re going to force each other to listen to our favorite bands in the office, I will destroy you.

Image Credit: Robert Gomez

14. Working Late

Working Late

It’s 7:00 PM. I’m sitting in the same room after 6 with the guy who always comes in late and doesn’t get along with his spouse. I want to leave. I can’t because something critical is due the next day.

Okay, let’s stop there for a bit. I have deliberately left out some other annoying things. There are at least five others that come to mind. Can you guess? Go!

Emory Rowland

I'm editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. I consider myself a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. My love for social media and success with organic search led me to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, I could be considered pretty worthless. More...

21 comments

  1. chantelle

    I will never miss the office “uniform”! I always found it a little hard to be creative when stuffed into my business casual gear. Plus, it usually included many layers due to that Arctic air most offices insist on pumping in.

    • Emory Rowland

      Ah, now there’s one I hadn’t thought of. I remember wearing a uniform in my high school job working in the kitchen at a nursing home. It was truly ugly, complete with food stains and hat.

  2. I don’t miss feeling guilty taking my wife to lunch, even though I arrived early for work!
    I don’t miss being stuck in traffic.
    I don’t miss leaving Sunday night to fly to a client and getting back late on a Friday.

    Should I continue….

    I have to disagree regarding the use of a Mac — just looking at my iPhone makes we very productive :)

    Thanks Emory!

    • Emory Rowland

      Carel, the guilt thing didn’t occur to me either even though I now recall feeling bad about having to leave early for stuff like family and doctor appointments.

      About using a Mac, I think the ultimate insult came at my last job. One Friday as work began to wind down, there was talk of having a little Quake 3 competition, a LAN party if you will. Being a hardcore FPS gamer, I knew that this was my chance to prove my worth, transforming my new guy image into the kind of Gordon Gecko type that would ruthlessly increase the company’s profits and incite management to grant me a raise. As it turned out, the office only had the Mac version of Quake 3. So I had to sit there and attempt to work while listening to them frag each other into oblivion playing a classic PC game on their Macs, arghhh!

      • I’m not a gamer so I cannot comment. :)

  3. Good ones Emory.

    I actually enjoy some of these things about my job. Like my computer and my chair.

    I sure do wish we had some music around here though. :)

    • Emory Rowland

      Thanks, Ileane! Those two are perhaps the most important of all. At my last job I brought in my own chair (was able to get a good deal on a Herman Miller). Wow, did it ever make a difference in my productivity. It’s a tough sell convincing most companies to budget for something like that though, even supposedly cutting edge tech companies.

  4. The computer was always a tough one for me, too. Never had a decent machine, though I was usually the token IT guy (even if that wasn’t part of my title) so I was able to Frankenstein a decent computer from spare parts after a while.

  5. Tom

    Great points, I especially like the illustrations. I’ve been at my own business for over a decade now but I recall many of these oddities from work. Office politics and the music always drive me nuts.

  6. Scott

    Good read Emory! I’m working from home now since last September so if I don’t like something around my office, I just go and change it now. Ha!

    I know. Not everyone can do that. But, home office or not, it can be a right royal pita sometimes.

    We need to catch up again soon! Been a while.

  7. HAHAHAHA. I loved this.

    #1 for me. I don’t miss other people giving me a hard time because I valued my job and wanted to serve excellently. I love being an entrepreneur and always trying to improve without guilt!

  8. I just thought of another one: PERFORMANCE REVIEWS — not.

  9. Ali

    I loved this, Emory! I’m fortunate enough that I only served about 4 years of my life in an office and actually enjoyed it quite a bit (working at a church is a wonderful working environment), so I must say I actually do miss having co-workers (my dog doesn’t always cut it). That said, I would never trade working in the comforts of my home office, leaving for the gym at 4, and squeezing some errands in during the day for florescent lights any day!

  10. Thanks Rowland for the list. I also work late every day. How about your Cell Phone? I think cell phone is one thing you don’t miss from day job also. :)

    • Emory Rowland

      John, fortunately that’s one thing I haven’t had to deal with yet and hopefully never will, a company issued cell phone :)

  11. Emory Rowland

    Thank you all for the comments and empathy expressed. I feel much better now!

  12. natalie epperson

    what about the obligatory girl scout cookie, popcorn tin, and wrapping paper purchases from parents selling for their kids?? I gladly purchase from neighbor’s kids now. And I love not having to dress up for the office – my workout clothing works great for home office apparel! Fun post – thanks Emory

    • Emory Rowland

      Yes, natalie! How could we ever forget that one?

      Sometimes people feel coerced to give, especially when they bring the actual child in your office and the parent is your boss :)

      “We do it all for the children,” as they say,

  13. At one place I worked, the employees went in together on buying some ergonomic keyboards in bulk. We got some savings and much better keyboards. The office chairs still sucked though lol

    • Emory Rowland

      Shannon, that’s at least a small victory and probably sent a message to the owners of the business.

      I’ve tried ergonomic keyboards but haven’t been able to adapt. The chair is the most important of all furniture for me, even though I’ve actually been using a standing station for a while now and loving it!

  14. 2. The Drive. My favorite, I also had to drive 2 hours every day in traffic to get to my job. But I miss the office parties :)

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