If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m a remote worker, and I’ve worked from home for years. No, I don’t work while sitting up in bed. I’ve actually transformed a guest bedroom into a very nice home office (because guests are overrated), and I set myself up for success with specific rules about how to be productive at home with minimal distractions.
People always get it wrong — they often falsely assume that I’m sitting around, clad in shabby loungewear (translation — frayed clothing not fit for public consumption), watching television and stuffing chips down my gullet, only opting to shower occasionally. They believe that I can chit-chat ad nauseam in the middle of the day, and take three-hour lunches. And, okay, I’m sure there’s a faction of people who fit this description, but there are also the types of people who operate as I do. We conduct our workdays professionally — bathed, wearing pants that have actual buttons, and refusing to turn on the television until all meetings have concluded I get WAY more work done at home than I ever have in a corporate office. And what the hell is lunch??
I’ll admit it; I hate the office. I get that sometimes it’s nice to have in-person pow-wows with colleagues, and I’ve made wonderful relationships at work that I would never have made had I been remote for my entire career. However, I’ve evolved to a place where I don’t need the morning pleasantries. I’d rather just wake up, either workout or take my 5-second commute to the office, and maximize the day. I don’t need to discuss the weather, ad nauseam, at the coffee machine (realistically, this wouldn’t happen anyway, as I don’t drink coffee), and in fact, I don’t care to brave the weather during a 45-minute commute only to have endless conversations ABOUT THE WEATHER. In fact, you know how I like MY weather? Through the window of my comfy, warm home office, as I sit comfortably in my overpriced ergonomically-friendly swivel chair.
But, a month ago, I had to go into the office and have a new corporate photo taken and potentially partake in a super-spreader event with the other three colleagues who venture downtown a few times a week (likely to escape their families). Within five minutes, I was reminded of how much I love my home office.
I had to handle the technical stuff — plug into the VPN, figure out how to configure the dual monitors, adjust the chair to my liking. And then there were the refreshments. Real talk? There are FAR TOO MANY refreshments in corporate offices and a lot of conversation about how and when to consume them.
I was there for a total of six hours, and Dee, the office coordinator (who is one of the sweetest women on the planet), started in on me from the moment I arrived:
“How was your commute? It’s cold outside!” Are we already starting with the weather??
“Where do you want to sit? Do you want an office with a view?” I don’t care, I replied. I have so much work to do that I have no time to gaze at the river while pondering the common sense of tourists who insist on taking open-air boat tours in Chicago between the months of November and April, but thank you.
“Have you visited the kitchen? We have coffee and a lot of water! We have still, sparkling . . . “ I’m fine, thanks. I’ll grab a bottle of water as soon as I get settled.
“There’s fruit!” Thank you!
“Help yourself to a soda!” No thanks, but I appreciate it.
“That’s right! You like green tea! We have four kinds. Let me know if you need help.” Do you have wine? Because at this point, I need a drink . . .
“Oh, and there’s candy!” [tight smile with a side-eye and a nod] Readers with Black mothers will completely understand this look. It directly translates into “I’ve had enough of you.”
“We also have Capri Sun!” That’s . . . random. And you’re a little bit too excited about it. But, okay.
[Less than two hours later]
“I’m placing an order for lunch and sent you the link to the menu. Just let me know what you want.” I don’t usually eat lunch, but I’ll consider it.
“Do you want to eat lunch together?” Not really, but I’ll go with the flow.
“Charles wants us all to eat together. What time are you free?” I’m not, but I guess I can carve out a few minutes. And really? This is just too much goddamned togetherness.
“The food is here!” Great, and I’ve made exactly ONE phone call today.
“Oh, sorry . . . they didn’t have the entree you wanted, so I substituted with something else” Okay . . . so you chose something not even close to what I ordered, and in reality, nothing that I would EVER order, which I must choke down in front of two other people who may or may not have COVID. But thank you!
I really couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there. And after all of that? The pictures were terrible.
Anyone else looking forward to NEVER going into an office again? Just me?