Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Out of the Office
Today I have been thinking about my work/home life (and they are so intertwined that they are difficult to pull apart and examine) and I am full of gratitude again for the fact that I no longer work in a conventional office.
I met many wonderful people in my office work, and I learned a lot of important things as well. But.
There is an element to office work that I can summarize as the "pieces of flair" element. If you have seen Office Space, you know what I am talking about.
And if you haven't seen it, go see it. Now.
I think that online work suits my personality because the one element of office work that I could never get a handle on was the unspoken not-allowed-to-discuss-it-but-must-perfectly-embody-it "office culture" thing. It is the same thing that has caused me problems in my friendships as well -- when there is an unspoken expectation, and it is too vulgar to actually talk about it, but it doesn't make any sense, and if you ask the wrong coworker about it, they blab to the boss... etc. As an example, one time I was taken aside and berated -- in front of a coworker -- for "doing bad phone." No one could tell me what I was actually doing wrong, but they could tell me that it wasn't right. The people calling expected something more -- some conversation -- but what could I discuss? I didn't know them. I didn't know who they were. And the higher-ups who were high enough got offended by personal conversation, but I was supposed to somehow engage them in non-personal personal conversation, all while transferring their calls as quickly as possible... no one could tell me what to say or not to say, but they knew I was not doing it right.
If this happened to me now, I would request a quick meeting with the boss and ask for some concrete suggestions. But that sort of imprecise-yet-exact requirement is very common in an environment where so much of the instruction is verbal. With online work, everything you are told to do is in writing. So you know what is expected of you, and there isn't any secret extra requirement, because there is no whispering in the break room and no "office culture" outside of what is communicated.
I am not sure if this is a strength or a weakness on my part. I think that not dealing with office politics certainly saves a lot of time, and I am not handicapped by my apparently terrible first-impression (people in professional situations tell me I come off as a snob who thinks she's better than everybody, just because I don't talk a lot when I first meet someone). I make a better impression in writing, maybe? Or maybe online we all just do our work and quit worrying about gossip.
In any case, I have not missed office work, and I like not wasting time on politics. It gives me more time to waste on Facebook. Hahaha. :D