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 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
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
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.
4. The Noise
For whatever reason, there are always those co-workers who want to be heard. Yelling, Laughing, giggling.
5. Office Politics
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.
I love the people I worked with. I can’t say the same for their spouses’ cooking. I volunteer to bring plates and napkins!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!