Even before the pandemic hit, I had a certain level of flexibility, and I do want to state upfront that I’m grateful for the privilege of such flexibility. I’m not blind to the fact so many people suffer a whole range of stress and ailments from either preforming a job that has to be done on site or labor under bosses who could allow it but don’t. My husband until about four months ago was a lead engineering technician, which meant he was on site 8-12 hours a day, in a cleanroom suit no less. But this post is about me and this is my space to whine and complain, so please don’t come at me with admonitions to be grateful or “kids these days” bullshit.
I hate everything about working in the office. A few weeks ago my company just dragged everyone back into the office (well, there’s three groups of people, per our HR. Folks who have to be and have always been on site, folks like me who are considered “On Site Flex” which means we can work from home “up to two days a week”, and folks who are fully remote except for random team meetings or whatever). I’m the second group, I’ve been off site and working from home since that first “two week quarantine” and I just came back a few weeks ago and I hate it. I find zero joy or function or happiness being in the office.
To be fair in two things, for me personally. I kicked ASS at home and received two raises (outside the normal ones), solid bonuses and a promotion while working from home over the past two and a half years. I did burnout and ran into my own personal wall about mid-June this year, the stress and grief of losing so many pets and family members and schooling through a pandemic and *gestures at the entire world*. I took a breath and spent my summer unapologetically altering my schedule, seizing every adventure I could. I enjoyed my summer, packing in multiple trips with my horse, my dog, my friends and my kid, and it was *amazing*. So there was always going to be a bit of a bummer when adventure season ended, but coupled with the return to the office it was a bit of a double whammy of bummer.
Everything about physically being chained to a desk in the office is terrible, from low grade annoying to stressful. I hate having to get up at six AM and walking Benny in the dark. I hate leaving Benny at home seven hours a day, he’s game for it and I try my best to ensure he gets the exercise he needs and he’s a dog, but I still don’t like it. I hate the added expense of sending him to daycare once a week. I hate the total inflexibility of it, I’m at work and on for the entire 7-8 hours. I liked my previous schedule, where I didn’t have to worry what I wore, I worked a few hours, drank my coffee, took Benny for a walk, worked a couple more hours, a lunch walk, work a few more hours, Kade’s home. I liked being able to get my teeth into a project and work 4 10s or take off early on Friday. I could do all the household management things that you just can’t otherwise, being home for contractors, laundry, making my own lunches, a cat nap or two. I hate the commute both ways, the expense and danger and time of it. Even carpooling with my husband doesn’t really make it better. We’re opposites, I’m chatty in the morning and he’s super not, he’s chatty on the way home and I’m super not.
Until this week I didn’t even have a cube assigned as they did a massive reshuffle of most everyone on site, including my team, so I was bouncing between various spaces and couldn’t settle down. Half of the team I support travel internationally a lot, so they are seldom even in office themselves. I hate being cold most of the time. I hate the lighting and all the random conversations I overhear and trying to plan what to eat and where. I end the day with a low grade headache from the lighting and the random scents people still for some reason douse themselves in.
I hate the fact that myself and others were doing so well at home for so long and now we’re forced back on site, for no other reason than “the pandemic is over, let’s ignore all the lessons we learned throughout about people’s lives and go back to the way things were”. Our company in particular has had several bang up quarters in a row and customer demand hasn’t gone anywhere, so why the hardline about being on site, really? It’s partly about performative work and “being seen working”, which I thought I had worked my way above, honestly. I’ve worked for my boss for several years now, and thought we were in a solid place, but honestly it feels he’s as tone deaf as anyone who worked their way up the chain while in the office and doesn’t really see why it should be different for someone in a different phase of life.
The benefits and the money are good and the growth prospects are still there, even though a part of me wishes I could afford to seek life back in the non-profit world. I know no workplace is perfect and compromises must be made and blah blah blah, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing I could press rewind a bit and have my summer flexibility back. I probably read too much Anne Helen Peterson, honestly….
One thought on “Office Rant”
I used to experience something similar when I worked in a public school system. Summers were terrific for me as a mom with a child and horses to enjoy at home. But going back to work in the Fall was weirdly devastating. I mourned the loss of many things you describe in your post.
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