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Working in an Office

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3 Reviews

Do you love working in an office or have your tried it out and it's just not for you? We're not all cut out for sitting in front of a computer all day. We would love to hear your experiences on working in an office - both good and bad!

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      28.01.2010 17:10
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      4 outta 5, wish you could eradicate the politics...

      I have been working in various offices now for a lot of years and guaranteed no matter how much experience you have, each one differs from the next. There seems to be some kind of unwritten code of conduct, underlying rules and regulations which everyone seems to adhere to automatically, without being told, but if you don't; well, you're in for a fall...

      *~Size~*
      There are various different sized offices obviously, lets just for arguments sake call them small (less than 20 employees), medium (less than 100 employees) and large (in excess of 100 employees). I have worked for offices within all 3 categories; the same principles apply as described below, but you have to consider whether your boss will factor in to the equation. I see my line manager everyday in my current job (12,000 employees!) in fact we get on well, but I never see my big boss, so I don't really need to figure him in to my conduct or my day-to-day activities.

      *~Day One~*
      When you first start in the office you are desperate to make a good impression. Begin the week before, if you haven't already received a letter of appointment, or something telling you where you need to be day one, give the employer a call. It might be nerve wracking, but it will show you're confident and conscientious about your employment there. When you know where to be and what time, make sure you are on time. A little early, but not too much. As an employer there is nothing worse than you getting a new member of staff and they turn up half an hour early, it cuts in to whatever activity you were doing before they arrived. If you're late, well it's an absolute no, you may as well go home and go looking on the job centre website, because your new employer will never forget that.

      Unless you have had a very detailed interview, chances are you wont know what canteen facilities or appliances the company offers. You could be part of an induction group in larger offices and this may mean a group lunch. There may or may not be a fridge, microwave, kettle, etc. The best way to get around this is to take a sufficient but small sized packed lunch in a spill proof cool bag plus some money in case you go out to eat or use the staff canteen. I worked for my current employer many years ago so I knew what to expect on day one, however, my packed lunch paled in to insignificance when we attended a meeting in one of the other buildings and the 4 attendees (me included), ate in the canteen which cost me £4. The flip side of the coin is that you don't take a packed lunch, just some money and you don't have anywhere from which you can buy lunch, particularly in small - medium businesses; then you'll go hungry!
      Ensure you have a pen and notepad. Don't be underequipped because chances are on day one you will be given log ins, breaktimes, holiday entitlement, policies, procedures, dates of training courses, etc etc. So you must take something with you to write it all down in.

      Take some bottled water in your bag along with some loose change, chances are unless the corporation is huge you will either have to pay for tea/coffee or there will be a tea/coffee club and you will need to make a contribution.

      If you are driving to work and park in the grounds ask about a parking permit, are they necessary? It took several illegally parked notices from security before I realised you needed one!

      Don't be troublesome. By this I mean moan about the work you will be doing (remember you are new, you will have to start at the bottom and work your way up), don't persistantly ask about holiday entitlement, break times, lunch times, cigarette breaks, etc (you will only come across as workshy), ensure your mobile is switched off or definitely on silent (until you know if you can have your phone on - don't!), don't chat incessantly to your new colleagues (you will look like the new office gossip)...

      Do come across as organised (carrying a diary is a top way to do this), try to make it look effortless to your boss (having the right stuff with you and being on time, prepared etc will all help - and your boss will think brilliant - self sufficient and organised), do make polite conversation with colleagues if you have a chance (ask them questions don't let the focus be on you). Do enquire about 'dress down' days you don't want to go in in a suit when everyone else is in jeans! Be professional, polite and friendly, less is more, don't give away too much, about yourself, your career aspirations, your past employment.

      Oh and last but not least, take your own mug. You dont want to be without a hot drink because everyone has special mugs and there isnt a spare.

      *~Attire / Appearance~*
      Ok, so dress code differs from company to company. If you are not told the dress code, perhaps you could call and ask for day one. If you don't want to do that, then just go smart/casual. Linen trousers, pumps and a blazer would be fine for a girl; or shirt (tie in bag), trousers and smart-ish shoes for a man. In my experience, you should follow these tips whether the attire is smart, casual or a mix of both:

      * Keep a work wear wardrobe separate from your day to day clothing and night out gear even if you have a casual attire dress code (otherwise you wont feel relaxed on days off - business mind=business dress works the same for casual mind=casual dress, wearing work wear on your day off wont make you feel like your on a day off)
      * Don't wear the same thing twice in a row - even if it is a basics item which you have more than one of - alternate colours (last thing you want is your manager pulling you to one side re: personal hygiene, because you have had the same top on for a week even though you have washed it every single night)
      * All that said, your work wear 'wardrobe' only need consist of 3 different tops (2 to alternate while the other one is in the wash) and 2 pairs of trousers / skirt and a pair of shoes. I started at my current employer went to Primark spent £50 and got 5 different mix and match outfits, shoes, pumps, boots and a handbag!
      * Don't clip clop around the office in towering heels, low cut tops, tight trousers (men, too!), chest hair exposed, short skirts, etc etc, looking like your on your way to a night out. You will only get a name for yourself and be called upside down in the office by people who are either jealous or resentful of your confidence. A girl I used to work with used to get called cottage cheese, because she would wear short skirts, no tights and she was a big girl, her legs were mottled and cellulited like cottage cheese. It was cruel and awful, but she was oblivious.
      * Alternate ties and accessories like neckscarves, jewellery to make your plain black outfit stand out.
      * Keep your nails short, tidy and clean - polish is optional. Long nail extensions will look sexy and stylish, but make typing nigh on impossible. Dirty nails, well, they shouldn't exist, it's an OCD thing I have but they do make me feel ill.
      * Make sure you have fresh and tidy hair each day and get a shower as regularly as possible. Wear deodorant and perfume / aftershave, take some with you if you smoke for after your break. These all sound like pretty obvious points to make, but I have pulled two members of staff up in my career following on from complaints from other employees over their personal hygiene. It is embarrassing to say the least. So you've been out the night before late and you think you will get away without a shower and shave - no, you wont. Get up 5 minutes earlier. It's imperative. If you don't wash your hair each day like me, invest in some dry shampoo for the day inbetween washes, or chose an up 'do' which will disguise the uncleanliness.
      * Don't eat mints, they don't cover coffee breath at all - if anything they make it worse. Invest in some Goldspot fresh breath spray as a example it's about a quid, this will work much more effectively, plus sitting chewing gum or crunching mints isn't professional. I actually have a toothbrush and paste in my drawer, and I clean my teeth after my lunch.
      * Little things make you appear smarter and sassier than your counterparts - polished shoes, a hankerchief, a matching handbag (I have a black one and a brown one and similar colour scheme work wear), a special pen. Other things will make you look scruffy and unorganised - spilt morning coffee on your blouse, last nights' mascara, scuffed shoes, brown bag with an entirely black outfit and shoes.
      * If you wear casual clothing or have a 'dress down' day don't wear anything offensive or torn jeans through which you can see your bottom.
      * Never ever turn up on day one or any other normal business dress day in trainers. Even if you sustain an injury - get black trainers and explain to your boss. White or light coloured trainers = having a huge red arrow floating around near your head pointing down at you all day wherever you go, saying this person is not appropriately dressed!
      * Follow the company dress policy to the letter!

      Most importantly following the above steps will help to make you feel confident...

      *~Colleagues~*
      I have so often misjudged people in the past, I have a new approach when I start at a new job now. I used to make friends fast with my colleagues and within days be going out to lunch with them, going out for drinks with them, etc. but then I would find out the person who I was close to would end up being awful, a gossip, a rumour monger, etc. So now, as I meet people I write down my initial thoughts in a note book. After a month of keeping myself to myself and keeping my distance, I review what I have written. I am usually right now in my judgement of people, so I can then begin to form bonds with those I think are ok. Once I made friends with a girl who was over-friendly and ballsy, when I began to see her for what she was I distanced myself a little at a time from her discreetly - but she soon picked up on what I was doing and the next thing I know I was suspended for bullying and harrassment. It was all fabricated lies which were later disproved, but it caused me weeks of distress and I lost all respect when I returned to work.
      You will also generally get at least one member who has had a bad experience with wages, or something similar, or a series of experiences, they will be very bitter and resentful and your fresh innovative positive mind will be heavily looked down upon - keep cheery though, don't let them pull you down!!!

      The main things to remember:
      * Be wary, people who are over-friendly can be dangerous and sneaky.
      * Don't trust your own judgement unless you are an old wise owl. If your young and daft like me, reserve judgement and see how wrong / right you are after a while.
      * Respect those that have been in their job longer than you, particularly if you've come in in a senior role. Chances are they applied too and didn't get it, so you need to be sensitive and respectful.
      * Don't have any kind of relationship with someone at work. It could end messy and you have to continue to earn a wage working there.
      * Beware of mistaking your boss as a good friend, or else it hurts when they then pull rank on you, which is only them doing their job.
      * Don't get involved in gossip, bitchy circles or 'in crowds'. Offices are a breeding ground for rumour spreading activity, much worse than being at school.
      * When you're the new girl (or guy) people will either flock to be your friend or stand back from you. Just be nice, pleasant and chat to people, you'll fit in just fine. The last thing you want to hear is 'the new girl talks too much' or 'the new girls a bit weird she never speaks to anyone'!
      * Avoid the drama's - there will always be an over dramatic member of staff - the server goes down everyone chills, they go on like the worlds ended, their special mug has been used and not washed up - again, they go on like its the end of the world - you get the picture.
      Stick to my Motto - I'm not here to make friends (unless your normal, likeable, interesting, a little weird in a good way and kind)

      *~Toilets~*
      Ok, so everyone at some point is going to need to use the toilet at work. Try to think carefully about this and consider others. This sounds ridiculous, but if your toilet door opens on to the office floor like it does in some of the small offices I've worked in, well you get the picture. Oh and if you're in a big office, with cubicles, be careful about what you talk about in the bathroom area - we've all seen Ally MacBeal and if one of your colleagues over hears you on the phone applying for a new job!

      *~Over-Exposure~*
      This apparently in the glossy trashy mags I read is the new office craze (not so new I tell ya), people telling you too much about themselves. This is a true story; a few weeks ago a guy on my team came in to work and said he was annoyed at constantly having to buy expensive toilet roll because his hemorrhoid was playing up. Now, it may just be me, but I don't want to hear about your backside, nor your frontside (!), nor your divorce details, or your waning sex life, or the fact you have one nipple much bigger than the other... Keep some things for your close friends, or, keep these spontaneous admissions to the confines of your doctors surgery!

      There's another girl at work who I occassionally go for break with who tells me everything and I mean every minute detail about her relationship with her boyfriend. I am as open minded as they come, but sometimes I go home and tell my partner and say, is it just me, or should you keep those sort of things to yourself? She is usually in agreement with me! Another guy on my team is constantly mms'ing pictures around the other guys, of girls he's been naughty with and he is regularly featured in the pictures. It's vulgar...

      *~Competition~*
      If you start work with a group or a couple of people, then you will probably naturally be drawn to comparing yourself, performance, acceptance within the team, popularity, progression, etc with that person. And they will be to you. Healthy competition is fantastic but you excelling when others who have had same training and opportunities don't, will only lead to jealousy. Just be wary of it, be graceful and don't rub peoples nose in your success.

      *~Your desk~*
      This has always been my favourite part of working in an office, customising my desk. I reckon you can tell so much about your colleagues, find common ground to chat to your boss with and give away selected parts of your personality through personalisation of your desk. On mine I currently have several pictures of my new nephew, pictures of me and my girlfriend, pictures of Edward Cullen from Twilight (yes I'm gay and not sorry that I fancy a boy a little bit!), a Twilight calendar, a spiral display book of sarcastic office sayings like 'Change is inevitable (except from the vending machines)' its not really funny at all but it was a gift, I have a huge selection of tea bags and instant hot drinks, I have a fruit bowl and I have a very stylish pen which has a magnetic stand (a gift from one of our external clients). I also have a personalised mouse and mouse mat along with a matching stationary stand of staplers, hole punch, sellotape etc. Wonder what all of that says about me? I dread to think!

      *~Lunch~*
      Admiral / Fish Pie is not acceptable at work. You put it in the microwave moments later the whole office is flooded with a fishy smell it's awful! I love fish or fish pie, but don't bring it in - its not worth the complaints. Im also really careful about tuna or egg mayo sandwiches, if I take them in a take a sealed cool box to keep in the smell. Oh and garlic! Becareful with garlic even mid-week for tea, I love the stuff and put it in almost everything I make, even Shepherd's Pie :o) just be warned you don't want to smell of that of all things, because the next day it smells like it may as well have night out, too much to drink, garlic donner kebab written all over it! Never ever take anyone elses food or milk, or anything without asking, even if it isn't labelled or it's about to go off. Ever.

      *~Communication~*
      I once read somewhere that it's better to communicate with people face to face than over email or IM if your sitting in the same vacinity as them, it shows you don't sit and hide behind a PC and that you're confident enough to convey your ideas. If just casually walking up to a colleagues desk doesn't appeal or isnt practical then either, calling a meeting to discuss an idea, or asking for an appointment with your boss to discuss an issue, are both better ways to communicate than email. If you do need to, don't use all CAPS (looks like shouting apparently) and make sure your signature, font, font size / colour and layout meet with the expected company standards. Be professional, polite and friendly in your discourse and be sure to send it to the RIGHT people.

      *~Confidentiality~*
      Do not leak any company secrets. Or tell people ways to get stuff cheaper. It will only end in you being found out. Be good, is that too much to ask? :o)

      *~Email and Internet~*
      Follow the policy, it's there for a reason. Once I was working for a firm and one of the staff had been externally emailing his girlfriend talking about really rude stuff, the IT staff told me they'd picked up offensive words in his email and they would like my permission to extract the sentence in which they found said word; I had to agree and I had to warn him that if they found anything he would be sacked, he just said it was fine we could look through all his emails and the content and it wouldn't be an issue. Well, it sure was - despite him reading and signing our company email and internet policy, he had gone against many of the rules in there; I had to sack him, can you imagine the embarrassment he felt? He cried... So just go careful.

      *~Extra Activities / Routines~*
      * Smoking: If you smoke, just be doubly careful about your words. Remember, you have two ears and two eyes and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Make like a sponge, absorb everything and don't give anything away, unless your squeezed (pearls of wisdom for ya there). Seriously the smoking shelter is a breeding ground for rumours, gossip and back stabbing.
      * Collections: Many an office does a collection, this could be for people's birthdays, new babies, sympathy cards, etc; depending on the size of the office depends on how much you will be asked to contribute - used to work for a company and there were 6 staff, birthdays were few and far between and therefore we all used to contribute a tenner. However, our team now is 30+ in size, so we only give cards at birthdays unless they are a biggie, like 30 for example - we then give £3. You probably wont be asked to contribute initially, but just be prepared. And make sure you tell the present buyer (there's always one person who organises all activities like this in an office) when your birthday is!
      * Lottery Syndicates / Bonus Ball Draws, etc: you should consider taking some loose change in your desk drawer for syndicates, etc. You don't want to be the only one at work when your colleagues are in Barbados spending their lottery winnings.
      * Fundays, Charity Events, Newsletters, etc: be part of things like this, it will make sure you get to know people in the department as well as externally. In one job, on day 2 my boss said you seem bubbly, do you fancy co-ordinating our monthly funday and writing the newsletter - it will get you a couple of days off work a month? Sure I did it, and I met everyone, knew everyone (80+ staff) by first name and I made a couple of good, genuine friends, with staying power - we're still friends now.
      * Taking stuff in to work: make sure you check the rules before taking things in to work, like flyers for your parents business, sponsorship forms for your children, or your Avon brochures for example. You don't want to get a slapped wrist too soon in your employment! Most places I have worked are fine with things like this, but once I made a suggestion to start a weight watchers style club (no charge just a weekly weigh in, card to track loss and swap recipe ideas) after hours in the department. I was shot down in flames and told it was against health and safety policy - plus the scales I took in were electrical, so they needed a PAT test... that's another thing to be wary of, taking in to work extra devices like a radio, or similar. They need PAT testing and they probably wont be allowed! I did used to have a lenient employer and I used to have an Ipod docking station on my desk, but it was stolen along with the brand new Ipod I left in it overnight, (so I guess the moral of the story is...just don't take your stuff in!). It should never happen, but things get swiped off your desk too, so don't leave anything lying around that's particuarly valuable to you.
      * Get involved in the Coffee Run (or similar): every morning someone on our department goes to one of the other buildings and brings back cappuchinos for everyone on department (we don't have a posh coffee machine in our building). Being involved in these type of activities will help to integrate you in to the team
      * Attend team nights out: Don't be one of them people who never goes along, but do not get plastered and do something so embarrassing you fear going in to work the next day.

      *~Overall~*
      An office is a great place to work, but it is a jungle out there, you need to be wary and careful if you want to enjoy working there and make friends, but without having issues. Be confident, strong, professional and polite, above all remember its your career and work life, not your social life. Good luck and enjoy your work placement - I have absolutely loved working in an office all this time, though it has not been without trials and tribulations!

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        23.01.2010 11:06
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        Not all offices are like this- this is just my experience

        I have been working in an office in an administrative role for almost seven years now. During this time, I have worked in four different offices for three different companies. I have worked in offices where the building was a knocked through row of terraced houses so there were individual offices connected on a corridoor with six people in each office to open plan floors with around 100 people on each floor. This is just about my experiences and how I have found it.

        In all of the office jobs I have had, I have been able to take in my own calendar, coaster, mug and a bear that sits on my desk. Most companies allow you to take in a plant for your desk or personal photos and no-one says anything. I used to work with a girl who was obsessed with the colour pink and everything on and around her desk was pink. No-one said anything to her about this so it was deemed as OK to do.

        Disadvantages of working in an office are:
        1: Office Politics: if any of the "in crowd" at work decide they don't like you you will be made to feel very uncomfortable- it can be like being back at school. You find the loudest people run the show and do the least work but make it known- one girl I work with stamps her feet and has tantrums like a 3 year old if she has been given some work she doesn't want to do then it gets taken off her normally. It can be quite irritating if you are like me and just get your head down and try to get through the day with as little anxiety as possible!

        There are a lot of instances I have seen where it is all about who you know and who you go out drinking with (I don't...) which dictates how you will be treat and sometimes if you will be declined for internal job moves within the company (I've seen it happen too many times, people with experience go for a Senior role and the comany employs someone from outside with NO knowledge or experience then expects the person that applied for the job internally to train their new team leader as well as doing their current job for no extra benefits...)- I have witnessed this on five occasions in four years where it has happened to senior colleagues who have then left because of it.

        2: Unnecessary Drama: if someone's cup is missing from the kitchen, or someone's chair has been swapped for a less comfortable chair there can be masses of drama. This is understandable in the office environment where you can become territorial but if you talk about it at home, you sound insane.

        3: There can be seemingly illogical rules: I have been warned by a colleague that we are only allowed to use the toilets on the floor we work on- my old Team leader confirmed this- I questioned it with my new team leader who laughed and said "what would the reasoning be there then". We were also told the dress code included: no piercings or tattoos, no black or coloured bras under paler tops, no shoes without backs, no underwear to be on show, no thin strap tops (vest tops) unless it is covered by a cardigan. It was obvious many many senior level meetings must have been had for them to come up with this in such detail!

        It is annoying when a company introduces this then you see other coleagues ignoring these and nothing being said about it, but if you go in in shoes which do not have backs (I kid you not) you can guarantee you will have to have a meeting about it! Its all WHO you know a lot of the time.

        4: Air Conditioning: Where there is Air-Con there is normally a war raging. The office will be split into those who are always too hot (if you prefer to be cold rather than hot, buy your own desk fan and smuggle it in if you can!- or ask the company if they have any desk fans you can use) and those who are constantly too cold. The loudest people always win- it is only the floor manager who is "allowed" to press the buttons on the air con unit where I work.... It is constantly 27 degrees in the office I work in because some people who feel the cold all the time are louder than those who are too hot. Do not expect any resolution to this war, eventually (if you are like me) you just get used to it being way too hot for your liking!

        Advantages of Working in an Office:
        1: If you fit in, you will make friends. Normally desks are arranged in groups so you are sat in a cluster or a team. Where I work at the moment it is deathly quiet and no-one speaks apart from the loud people and those who throw tantrums. This can be insanely boring as you have to be there from 9-5pm and I can quiet easily go to work and not say a word to anyone or have anyone say anything to me despite being sat in a group of 6 desks with 100 people on the same floor.

        2: Provisions: There are normally water coolers dotted around, coffee, tea bags, milk and sugar is normally provided by the company unless there is a coffee machine where you might have to pay (we have a kitchenette area where there is hot water, a dishwasher, sink, bin, fridge and tea bags, coffee, milk). People sometimes take in their own boxes of cereal so they can have breakfast when they first get to work.

        3: Food! It is customary to take in cakes or food if it is your birthday, if you have returned from holiday, if it is your last day or if you are going on maternity leave. It is always nice if you see an email saying "cakes in the kitchen".

        4: Quirks- some offices have quirks. At my last job, on Thursdays all the men in the office would wear pink shirts. It was casual wear every friday. At my current job, you can only wear non office clothes once a month and you have to pay £1 for the priviledge- though this does go to a charity nominated for the year which is a good thing. They should make it weekly for 50p though as I prefer wearing non work clothes to work as I feel more relaxed.

        5: Personal Artefacts: You can normally take in your own things to make your desk a bit more comfortable for you- such as your mug, a coaster, calendars, a stuffed toy, a plant, pens etc. Though sometimes pens do go missing so don't take in your £200 fountain pen!.

        6: Tools for the Job:I have found, with office jobs you can expect the company to provide you with the following: desk, chair, computer, keyboard, mouse, desk tidy, bin, pens, notepaper, drawers or some sort of storage cabinet space. You may have to find out where HR or Health and Safety are if you need things like a monitor riser, foot rest, wrist support so you are sat correctly at your computer to reduce neck pain. I have found it is up to you normally to seek these things out if you need them rather than someone coming to check you have everything.

        You normally also have to ask about things like post it notes or tippex (which are all held at reception in my current job- you have to go and ask for the items). When I started my current job, I was not given anything or allocated to a desk and my team leader was off for a week and the girl I was told to ask for work from took an instant dislike to me- she was also my team leaders best friend outside work so it made my working day hell for around 18 months until I moved teams.

        7: As you are sat inside in an office, this is probably better than being outdoors in all conditions.

        Overall
        Overall, I have just become accustomed to working in an office. I know who to avoid and who the people are who will help me if I need help on something work related. I think I have been unlucky at my current job as there are only 2 people in an office of 100 I actually like or would stay in touch with if I left. I can count 20 people I genuinely dislike and avoid.

        Some companies seem to have too much middle management where you cannot work out what they do except have meetings to work out when to have meetings and discuss stats then decide to disregard all previous stats and measure productivity on other aspects of work. I do not work in a customer based role- the closest I get to seeing a customer is if their Broker phones in or on two occasions a middle man has come to collect some documents- yet the company insists on strict office dress which seems over the top.

        Also we have to work through Christmas (except the Bank Holidays) despite most of the people we would deal with being off! This, along with number of days holiday and salary brackets to expect will be whilly dependant on the company you work for. Normally the age range in an administrative office job is 20-45, 18-20 for office juniors. I have found the male-female ratio is still very female biased which can be horrendous as girls can be visibly moody and the rest of the team will know it if someone is in a foul mood!

        I think the Irvine Welsh quote sums it up for me rather sarcasticallys "If you liked school, you'll love work". As my experiences in an office job have been on the whole not great, and like being back at school a lot of the time, but I know all offices are not like that and if you work somewhere and are sociable and generally fit in with those to impress, the only thing you will have to worry about is your workload! If only all office jobs could be like Google (where I hear that have an adult ball pit and a room of bean bags to reduce office stress!!).

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          14.01.2010 19:54
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          Sometimes I wish I was a postie but not when it rains!

          This is a review about working in an office. I'm so chuffed that I've found a new category to be 'first' at - woo hoo!

          ***How long?***
          For the last 12 years I have worked in some semblance of an office and although this has been in various jobs, I have only ever worked for one year in an office on my own, and that was when I was quite junior but the layout of the building was mainly single offices. Other than that it has been a shared experience. But I'm not sure I'd want to go back to lone working as there are benefits to sharing your office.

          ***Format and environment***
          My office at the moment is shared with three people (so there's four of us in total). We each have a large desk, visitor chair(s), set of drawers, shared filing cabinet (mainly full of my stuff), two storage units a phone and a computer. My phone has a different ring tune to the normal phones as I find it hard to distinguish the ring (ie whose phone is ringing) and I can also roam with my cordless phone.

          ***Heaven and hell****
          Sometimes it's nice to sit in the company of other people, but sometimes it's sheer hell. Like when it's noisy and you just need some quiet to get on...

          ***My personal space***
          I don't get a lot of space but what I have I like to keep tidy and personal to me. I have my own comforts like my office mug, my own pens - wo betide anyone that tries to 'borrow' them, and a few little pictures, postcards and my calendar. I have a pin board behind my desk that has useful numbers and reference material on it.

          ***Drink anyone?***
          Having a shared office is a social experience and we have an unnamed game we play where we all hold out for the first drink of the day to see who caves in first and offers. It's bad form to just go and make your own drink and anyone caught doing this is named and shamed. We have to provide our own drinks at work but some people are better than others at buying in the supplies. We also have a brand war over the tea bags, but it works out that he who buys chooses the brand.

          **No secrets**
          You can't make any private phone calls or have any secret goings-on when you are so close to other people. Which is fine as we're all there to work but sometimes you have to go outside on your mobile if you want to make a private doctor's appointment. It can be awkward when you're expecting a call too if you don't want to "share" with everyone!

          ***Arguments***
          When one of us is in a mood the others also suffer. Whilst I don't mind a bit of quiet background noise, I notice the younger members of the team gradually notch up the volume and change the station until I have to ask for some peace and quiet. Generally we can find a station or music we are all happy to listen to (quietly) and it can complement the office environment.

          ***Cover****
          It's nice sharing an office with a few people as it means we can cover each other's phones and be helpful to people who want to contact one of us rather than it just ringing out. If one of us needs to leave early it's not a problem as there is always someone there to cover the other one.

          ****Make it work well***
          There are lines that should not be crossed at work and it's important that there is mutual respect between colleagues regardless of status or age etc. We all try and support each other if we know one of us is suffering or going through a tough time.

          ***Sharing the workload***
          If one of us has a tough deadline to meet, the others will rally round and try and help, even if it's just supplying a constant stream of hot drinks! On some occasions, we'll all sit and stuff envelopes if necessary to make sure the job gets done.

          ***Is it all that perfect?***
          I realise I've made my office seem quite like utopia, and it's not always like that, but generally we are empathetic and respectful of each other and mindful that we are at work and being paid to do a job and as such, it really does seem like we have a good balance. Having said that, I'm the manager of the team (no! nothing like David Brent!) so who knows what they get up to when I'm out at a meeting!

          ***Verdict***
          Most of the time I like working in an office but I do have fleeting fantasies about being a postie, but only when the weather's nice!

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