The Office – we nearly all end up in one, one day.
As young and innocent pre-teens we may have dreamt of being marine biologists, police officers, firemen, actresses; never knowing that a destiny of working in Finance or HR was waiting for us… That we would spend hours tearing our hair out because the CEO ignores our very existence or because of the manager that “reminds us politely” not to be looking at Buzzfeed during the day. Without distractions those of us that work in offices would forget a world outside exists…. forget that there is a world outside of office lingo (who the hell says blue sky thinking anyway?), terse email exchanges, tube announcements that you can now recite from memory and getting home at 7:30 and missing The Simpsons. This may come as a revelation to some but there IS a world outside – who knew?
No one prepares you for this eventuality. They say dream big – my advice? Don’t. Dream of hot-desking and constantly wiping your phone and computer with anti-bacterial wipes. Dream of cleaning the toilet seat with hand soap before you use it. Dream of free office coffee that is the weakest you have ever had and that has probably been pissed in by the office mouse that recently died behind the fridge (does it depress you to know that you will end up drinking it anyway?). In the words of that pop artist I can’t remember, the best things in life are free – except they’re not – but I digress. Dream of office parties where a manager tells you you would “be more attractive if you lost weight” and you try and prove him wrong by seducing him (what, just me?) – dream of anything that is realistic. I applaud anyone who can make it in their dream job– however I also say to those who do not become what 6 year old Billy thought he would – it’s ok. We are nearly all there with you.
So, you are stuck in an office – that sucks. You have graduated, been told that well paid graduate career jobs are out there, only to end up in the admin department ordering cheap stationery dealing with people complaining that their stapler has broken, again. So here you are, working away, only to find that the destruction of your dreams is not the only thing you have to worry about – no one told you how to survive office life. Who thought ending an email with “regards” would cause you such problems. Why didn’t you put Kind Regards? Why didn’t you write Best Wishes? Or just a plain Thanks? Why didn’t you say Hi at the beginning of your email? Can you put a smiley face? Can you insert clip art? Can you insert a picture of that cat from that cheese burger thing, just to be rid of the tension? What about maintaining the constant happy persona when your house has fleas, you cant afford to move and your girlfriend left you? Here is my list of Dos & Don’ts for your working career. P.S. You’re welcome.
DON’T use up the last of the mouse wee coffee. It’s free and people go nuts for it. Come back later when some other poor soul has changed the filter.
DON’T disturb anyone’s conversations when they are higher up than you – do what everyone else does. Hang around awkwardly until one of them notices your pitiful existence.
DON’T forget anti bacterial hand wipes – seriously. People in offices are dirty. Also saves time on the sanitization process you have to go to to rid the toilet seat of pee stains and dirty arse marks.
DON’T buy your own stationery. It may be cheap but it’s probably one of the only free things you can steal from work. And it will give you a ridiculous sense of delight as you slink out of the office with 4 pencils and a rubber.
DON’T learn to fix things around the office (ESPECIALLY the printer). You will be the first go-to person and will spend hours trying to fix it whilst neglecting your actual work. Realise the value of laziness in this department. Trust me – “I haven’t finished that report as I was fixing the printer” never wins you any points, no one appreciates it, and you lose out.
DON’T be the drunkest at office do’s. Be the second drunkest. You’re the fun one without being an idiot and everyone will forget how you came onto that manager when Yvonne from Accounts took off her top and did a strip tease to Cotton Eye Joe by the Rednex.
DON’T tell people your age if you are younger than 25. No one really respects people who are young enough to be their kids. It also queues a lot of “You were born in 1990? I was just starting my first job…” Old people tell stories. Boring stories. That you have to sit through. Just say “late 20s“ at all times.
DO make spreadsheets. A lot. You look organised and remember to use colours – organised x 2.
DO look flustered all the time. Looking busy equates to being busy.
DO hang around in the office after work doing personal stuff after 5. It looks like you’re working, and working late = bonus points from management.
DO listen into every conversation possible. Knowledge is power.
DO go out for fag breaks with important people. Hell, pick up smoking for this very reason. They will like you more.
DO try to get the good computers. The best computers in my office are by the one and only window. My colleagues often email me from beyond the stationery cupboard asking if it is still raining outside. I, on some days, am lucky to get the coveted “by the window” computer. The rest of my colleagues have to slowly mutate in the deep dark depths of the back of the office whilst the health and safety manager drafts reports of how to deal with zombie-like lizard that was once the IT manager – true story.
DO learn what those ridiculous office lingos mean, but do not USE them. You will need to translate when idiots start talking to you about thinking outside of the box. (Don’t BE the idiot).
DO be covert when you are texting people and in particular long texts. Directors and/or managers have a sixth sense for turning up at your desk at the most inappropriate time (like when you receive a detailed text about National Orgasm Day and plans to honour it). I type texts in my work email, send it to my personal account on my phone, copy and paste and voila! Limited time on phone, max time staring at the screen. (Don’t forget to delete from the sent box).
DO be nice without being a directors pet, flirty without being the office bike, generous without being the coffee monkey and hardworking without being a mug. If you give, companies will always take, but they might not always (or ever) return the favour – bare that in mind when you are getting those numbers to finance at 10:30 at night.
So there you have it. A concise guide to dealing with the environment that you’ll probably spend more time in than your own home (which due to the sky high house prices you can’t afford anyway). You’ll learn to tailor the rules as you go along – which toilet is best to cry in, what time of day can you sneak off to the stationary room to have a cheeky wank and what computers are far away enough from managers that you wont get caught looking at spoilers for Game Of Thrones. The most important thing is to remain calm – you don’t want to be that person shaking and rocking in the corner and hyperventilating into the vacuum bag you’ve stolen from Henry the Hoover. I can only wish you luck on your adult life – remember, no one ever said on their death bed they wished they had spent more time in the office.