Let’s not kid ourselves, it can be easy to hate your office job. It’s mundane, you’re sitting and looking at spreadsheets and Powerpoints all day, and for some reason it’s always really cold. Who among us hasn’t had a moment on their commute where they thought to themselves, “What would happen if I just…kept driving? If I headed south and never looked back?” You entertain the idea for long enough to drop your things off at your desk, put your meal prepped lunch into the shared fridge, shake your head, and move on with your day.
All too often we focus on the negative, the things we hate–or at least mildly inconvenience us–about our job. But it can’t all be bad, right? You’re spending 40+ hours at your desk with the same people every week, and I would argue the vast majority of us aren’t doing that just to collect a paycheck. So whenever you get bored or annoyed, remember these underrated joys of office life.
Camaraderie with your fellow cube warriors.
When it comes to the daily slog of emails and Excel, nothing helps get you through it more than knowing you’re not alone. The bonds you make with your fellow desk jockeys are invaluable to the work experience for that exact reason. Maybe you share a pod, maybe you’ve put together a private Slack group chat, maybe you’ve made up games to help the workday go by faster, but whatever the case, these are the people who help you get through the day. Need to vent about someone in accounting? They have your back. Leftover pizza in the kitchen? They’re the first people who will let you know. You might have friends outside of work who you hold a closer relationship with, but they won’t always get what it is you’re going through during the day. Your work squad is in the trenches with you, and that’s an experience you can’t match.
God damn I love me some office gossip. There’s something deeply satisfying about knowing who just put in their two weeks or what happened after you left the last office happy hour. Is it a good habit to get into? No, of course not. Nobody likes being gossipped about and traditionally, nobody likes to be looked at as a gossip. But will I continue to want to be in the know about the ins and outs of the workplace? Absolutely. Look, I justify it this way: I would rather go into a conversation with an understanding of why someone might be on edge rather than make up stories in my head about why they’re on edge around me. There’s nothing judgemental about it, I just want to know what’s going on.
Different than your work squad, these are the tight knit bonds you make with one or two coworkers in your office. This could be your work wife, work brother, work mom/dad, the list goes on. They might not even be in your work squad. These are the people you feel most comfortable with sharing your secrets at work. They know who you have a crush on, they know who you despise, they know how close you’ve come to flipping your desk over and throwing your laptop out the window–in fact, they may have even talked you down from that. Without your work family, you’d be out there on your own and the light at the end of the work tunnel would be a little more dim.
After work drinks.
It starts with a 10:30am Slack message, usually something along the lines of, “Today already sucks. Anyone up for happy hour?” You spend the rest of the day semi-focused on actual work while your group chat debates back and forth over whether you should try your luck for a table at Ceres Cafe or go to the trusty Franklin Tap. At 4:15, you stand up and start putting on your coat, the squad following suit. Everyone in the office can see, they all know what’s going on and give you subtle nods of approval. It takes less than a minute for you to order a half price beer and a plate of fried pickles for the table. The first round comes, everyone takes the first gulp of their drink and in that moment, you become totally at peace with the world around you. The shitty 10:00am meeting doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Your grudges against the St. Louis branch fall by the wayside and your judgement gets just a hair more fuzzy as you order another round. This is bliss that cannot be matched.
The transparent moments.
Personally, I’m a sucker for transparency. Not the blanket transparency that upper management tries to convey with quarterly town halls or semi-annual update emails. I’m talking about the moments where you are one on one with one of the more senior people at the office and they confide something in you. You’ll be in a meeting with them, talking about the status of a project you’re working on, and somehow the conversation shifts to something totally different. It could be about how they feel about certain changes in the organization, or it could be about something that’s coming up that hasn’t been announced yet. You can usually tell it’s coming when the person you’re meeting with let’s out a heavy sigh. Maybe they’ll pause and look away for a second, trying to decide whether or not to say what they want to say. But once they decide to proceed, it’s game on. They have chosen you as someone to trust. It might be that they do this to everyone, but it still feels nice.
Office life can suck. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I personally have had days where I’ve thought about rage quitting and taking up a lifestyle of a high profile jewel thief, but honestly the healthcare benefits just aren’t that good. When you really look at it, the positives of the workplace can outweigh the negatives. You just need to know where to look.