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5 Things I Don’t Miss About Working in an Office

Working in an office

As many of my readers know, I work from home. In fact, I just hit my 2 Year Quitiversary a few weeks ago and couldn’t be happier. Running your own business doesn’t always involve chasing after rainbows and puppies, but I am pretty darn happy these days.

One of the things I’m happiest about is that I’m no longer confined to a fabric prison…err…cubicle. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life and one of the last things I would wish on a person is having to spend decades under the glow of industrial lighting in a cubicle. People just aren’t meant to live that way.

Of course, I could be just a bit biased. I mean, after all, the cube next to me housed someone that literally liked to groom himself there at his desk and while in meetings. It wasn’t pretty, to say the least.

Anyway, I read this interesting article over at Contently a few weeks back by a fellow freelancer who shared some insight as to things she missed about not working in an office. Seeing as I’m generally cynical by nature, I thought I’d share some of the things that I don’t miss about working in an office. Before I get started, I would also like to give a hat tip to my friend Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents who was thinking along very similar lines in her post last week – What I Don’t Miss About My Day Job.

What I Don’t Miss About Working in an Office

While no job is perfect, and I have definitely found that to be the case in working for myself, there are just some things I don’t miss from the office. Such as:

The commute: Ok, I admit it, this is the easy one. In my former job I had a commute of 20-30 minutes per day. This isn’t necessarily bad, per se, but that was nearly an hour of my day spent on driving. That alone meant, all totaled, that we had a gas budget of roughly $300 per month. Now that my commute is 20 seconds…if I’m crawling, our gas budget has been cut by 2/3 per month. That’s real money that can be used elsewhere.

Office politics: In every job I’ve ever had, there has been some sort of political environment. It’s inevitable, on many levels, in my opinion and I always hated it. I’m much more of a ‘just get your work done’ type of person. I don’t have to deal with that much now that we run our own business. Yes, many clients have that going on but since we’re physically separated from them we really don’t feel it much.

Food: What is it about offices that cause people to bring in all sorts of junk food? I know sitting on your butt all day and some high caloric food is a perfect combination, but I don’t miss it. Now that I work from home I can choose what food is around me and now that we’ve made some important health decisions I’m surrounded by plenty of healthy options.

Supposed balance: This one really struck out to me in the Contently article. We hear a lot about work life balance, and rightfully so. However, I don’t know that I believe that there is some mystical work life balance out there that means you’re perfectly balanced from that aspect. Yes, you can have extremes and it ebbs and flows but that’s about it. When I was working in an office, my day didn’t end at 5:00 pm, or whenever I quit for the day. Often days I was bringing work home either in physical or mental forms and it still impacted my life at home. I know many will say that you can’t separate work/life when you work from home, and they’re right to a certain extent but at least I only have myself to blame in those instances.

Meetings: This sort of fits with the office politics above. That said, I do not miss meetings at all. If you work in an office, then you know what I mean. Seriously, we had meetings about meetings. Really? Is there nothing better to do than to have a meeting to discuss meetings? As my dear wife will tell you the thing that drives me nearly as nuts as wasting money is wasting time. Many meetings were simply that, at least in my case. We still have meetings now, but it’s usually either to win a new client or go over something our client wants us to work on for them. They’re much less frequent and it usually means money is coming at the end of it so I’ll gladly take those kind of meetings. :-)

 

I’m sure there are other things I don’t miss about being in an office, but these are the first ones that come to my mind. This also is not meant to say that working in an office is bad or shouldn’t be done, just that it is not my cup of tea. Going through this exercise has also shown me that maybe I should do a post of the things I do miss about working in an office. Surprisingly enough, there are a number of things, but I’ll leave that for another time. :-)

 

If you work in an office, what drives you nuts about working there? What do you hate most about being in a cubicle?

 

Photo courtesy of: Katy Warner

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John Schmoll

I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally.

57 Comments

  • MMD says:

    I can not wait until the day I no longer have 60 mile commutes to work every morning. It will be like a whole new life for me.
    MMD recently posted…Niche Website Update 19 – Using the 80-20 Rule to Adjust My Priorities – Plus $1,295 in IncomeMy Profile

    • John says:

      Ouch, 60 miles…I wouldn’t be able to wait for that either. :) Once you no longer have that, you’re right, it will be a whole new life!

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks for the mention! I actually had a dream/nightmare about my day job last night. Haha it was bad! My dream involved me still working there. AHH! Dramatic, I know :)
    Michelle recently posted…$12,787 in June – Site Redesign and More MotivationMy Profile

  • I think the most obvious thing that there is to dislike about working in a cubicle is that many office jobs could just as easily be done from home. Technology has really advanced the past 5-10 years and we are quickly moving to an all-digital environment where you are not distributing printed reports (or if you are they can be distributed virtually). I just wish more employers would recognize this and embrace work-from-home. I think it’s inevitable, but mainly as a cost-savings measure rather than a common sense measure.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How I Networked Into Almost Every Job I’ve Ever HadMy Profile

    • John says:

      Completely agreed DC. I think it’ll be the employers that embrace this that’ll stand out from the pack in relation to others. From the little I’ve seen there is an apprehension by many because they fear losing control or autonomy over employees when it really can free them up to be more productive.

  • I don’t miss the office politics at all. My boss was nice, but he changed her mind about things all the time. You could hardly keep up with how things were supposed to be done, and it was annoying. Plus there were so many unspoken rules about everything. I’m glad that I get to work by myself now!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…How Small Business Saturday Made Me Feel Like a JerkMy Profile

    • John says:

      My wife dealt with that in her old job and it just drove her nuts. I had the unspoken rules in mine and it was just crazy. Now we get to set the rules. :)

  • Seriously only 5 things ? I can think of a few more.

    1) The smells, yes, the A/C in most offices just don’t get it done.
    2) Parking my car next to folks who don’t give a crap about their car (let alone mine)
    3) Arbitrary decisions made by folks that cause ripples throughout my life, yet no one owns the decision (e.g. you are working this weekend, “I am?”)
    Big Cajun Man recently posted…Tennis, Racing, Inflation and #BestofFinancialMy Profile

    • John says:

      Not at all, like I said at the end it’s just the first things that came to my mind and could write volumes about what I don’t miss. :) That said, I agree with all of yours. I never was forced to work weekends, that I remember, but definitely agree with #3 as well as the others.

  • debt debs says:

    I’m pretty much working from home most days lately so I’m free from commute (although mine’s not bad) but you still pretty much have all the other stuff whether or not you work in the office, but maybe just on a little lighter scale – i.e. meetings, politics, difficult to obtain work-life balance. What I miss the most about not working in the office is getting more exercise. I used to park at the back of the parking lot so I would have to walk more. Finding the time to force me out for a walk or on my bike is difficult, but easier now that summer is here!
    debt debs recently posted…Migrate WordPress.com to Self Hosted – The Live VersionMy Profile

    • John says:

      I think that would largely depend on the company you’re working for as well as what their attitude on working from home. If you work for yourself, which is different, then you have control over much of this. That physical separation and control you have can be a thing of beauty. :)

  • I’m lucky in that I have had great co-workers for pretty much my entire career, and while office politics exist everywhere, I would miss human interaction more than office politics (maybe because the ones I’ve experienced are so mild). I wouldn’t miss the commute if I were to work from home though!
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…How to Save on Rental CarsMy Profile

    • John says:

      That is one of the big things I miss about being in an office environment. I’m more introverted by nature, so it forces me to reach out to develop relationships.

  • I had a relatively good experience working in my cubicle: we had an awesome team and an awesome boss. That said, I sure do love making my own schedule now, and I don’t at all miss the commute. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…June 2014 Debt Payoff RecapMy Profile

  • WEL @ FQF says:

    I’ll just throw one out there… I hate using public restrooms multiple times per day. Some people don’t even wash their hands after going… you know.
    WEL @ FQF recently posted…How I Save 85% of My IncomeMy Profile

    • John says:

      Lol, I was waiting for that one! I hear ya. I always wanted to ask those people what on earth they were thinking. Sadly one of them was the cube mate I mentioned so I bathed myself in antibacterial hand wash most days.

  • Kathy says:

    I could cut off the last 3 words of your title and the article would fit me fine. However, I have to say that having a cubicle was much better than the multiple occupancy work station concept my office tried many years ago. No one had a desk, just a drawer in a cabinet. Everyone sat at big conference tables where there was no room to spread the work out, set up your computer etc. Everyone shared a phone (pre-cell phone era) at the table and when you were on the phone, everyone obviously heard your entire conversation whether it be private or business related. So compared to that I’d happily accept a cubicle any day.

    • John says:

      Ouch, sorry to hear that Kathy! My last job was moving to that exact same set up within 6 months of me leaving and I’m SO thankful I got out prior to that.

  • I’ve never worked in a cubicle before so can’t share that perspective. One thing that has always been a frustration to me though is when there are too many voices sharing opinions on the direction of a project or issue. I get the whole team approach to decision making but on many issues sometimes less is more.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted…The Final Destination Is Worth the Pain of Starting OverMy Profile

    • John says:

      Man that drove me nuts as well! I understand the need to have a team approach, but when the team is massive things just get lost.

  • Holly says:

    My Goodness! Please keep these posts coming, they’re the only thing that keep me sane within my job at the moment. I read all of your ‘work’ and ‘career’ based posts & every single thing you say about previous working experiences sound exactly like the situation I’m currently in. I’m in my first job role since graduating from University, and to begin with thought this was what every job felt like, but every post I read of yours now puts me that inch closer to believing this really isn’t what I have to put with for 40+ years until retirement! Thank you :D

  • I was literally just saying to my hubby that I hate commuting in (which I am doing a few days a week now because of a summer intern) and he said, “But you used to do it every day.” And it blows my mind that I used to do it every day. Even though I love taking the train and enjoy NYC, it still eats up at least 2 hours round trip in my day. These are precious hours that could be spent on more productive things and give me more “free” time with my family. I also hated the meetings and conference calls which only provided a stage for someone who needed attention and wasted my work time.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – BruisesMy Profile

    • John says:

      Wow, I couldn’t imagine 2 hours of commuting, though I know it’s largely relative. Yes, I hated meetings for that exact reason.

  • weenie says:

    When I stop working, I won’t miss the commute (1 – 1.5 hrs a day on the road) and the meetings. And where I work, they can’t seem to get the A/C balance right – it’s too cold on our floor but the floor above us are always complaining it’s too hot so there are always fluctuations, depending on who is shouting the loudest!

    I work in an open office, so no cubicle-hatred. However, also no private/personal phone conversations.

    I keep my head down and avoid office politics so it generally doesn’t affect me.

    The company I work for tries to keep us all healthy (healthy workers = less sick days!), with gym concessions and with bowls of free fruit available, so junk food is kept to a minimum.

    Work life balance is a tough one, but I think it would be harder (for me) working at home, knowing when to stop. At least in the office, I can pack up and go and not think about work until the following day.

    The thing I would miss most if I didn’t work in an office?

    Office banter, especially as I get on very well with my colleagues and consider most of them my friends.
    weenie recently posted…Etiquette about Financial PlanningMy Profile

    • John says:

      Sorry to hear about the open office, but at least they make up for it with healthy food choices. :)

      I miss the banter as well…at times. :)

  • Hey John, luckily enough, I don’t work in an office either. My quitversary is January 1st, 2014. I think the thing I didn’t like the most was the schedule. These days, I can do things when I want…I always make sure to get work done, but if I want to raft during the day and work at nigh, so be it! I love not having a solid schedule that I have to follow to keep my job!
    Joshua @ CNA Finance recently posted…Lack Of Determination | Why Most Bloggers Fail #6My Profile

    • John says:

      ” I love not having a solid schedule that I have to follow to keep my job!” <—– YES X1000!!! I could not agree more Josh!

  • Office politics are the worst, sometimes no matter how well you preform favorites are played. Reminds me of High School and the social clicks. I have a co-work the always refers to his cube as his cell. I always point out to him what are you doing to change that?
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Week End Round Up #39My Profile

    • John says:

      I always thought the same thing Brian…that it was too much like high school. I had to go through high school, but got out of the corporate culture as soon as I could!

  • Kim says:

    I haven’t ever done the cubicle thing, but I don’t miss the employee issues. Like you, I’d rather just do my job and get the work done. We had to have so many rules and clarifications to rules. It’s kind of like the “Do not take orally” warning on a suppository. You’d never think you needed to tell anyone that until some idiot actually ate one.
    Kim recently posted…Paying Off Debt Is EasyMy Profile

    • John says:

      “It’s kind of like the “Do not take orally” warning on a suppository. You’d never think you needed to tell anyone that until some idiot actually ate one.” Lol, I can’t even imagine!

  • Ah meetings…I still have to deal with phone meetings from time to time but I find them so useless. What I don’t miss is having to adhere to a certain schedule. I used to hit the snooze button so many times, but now I wake up naturally at an early time each day. Go figure! And you’re right about the junk food. You could practically hear the stampede when someone sent a message via email “treats in the break room!” :)
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…The Final Destination Is Worth the Pain of Starting OverMy Profile

  • I love your term “fabric prison”. I have to say that meetings are thing I hate the most. As you said most are such a waste of time.
    Raquel@Practical Cents recently posted…July Progress Report – 2nd Quarter ResultsMy Profile

  • Ahhh…. meetings for the sake of meetings. Now those I don’t miss at ALL. I believe some people are just professional meeting goers. :) Definitely not for me! Well, I still technically work in an office at an office building, so it’s still a bit different from you. But I definitely don’t miss having having multiple bosses over me with different (or always evolving) priorities. I like determining what our priorities are. Somehow we keep it simple. Imagine that!
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…5 Causes of the Money Blues and How to Eliminate ThemMy Profile

    • John says:

      I always thought the same thing Shannon. I just didn’t get it. That’s what I love about being my own boss – you get to set the priorities and what you’re going to work on all while setting your own schedule. Pretty nice in my opinion. :)

  • The need to allocate blame, that is what drove me nuts about working in an office. We spent more time playing that game, and it’s partner, Cover Your Ass”, it seemed to me, than we did working. Why was it that we could never just say, it went wrong, and move on. That would have gotten much more done. I guess this falls under politics too. What a waste. I don’t miss it.
    Brad @ How to Save Money recently posted…Learn to HaggleMy Profile

    • John says:

      I saw some of that, but not a ton…which I’m thankful for. That said, you’re right on it is a time waster and not really good for much of anything.

  • I hate 3 hour meetings. I think they should just be illegal! No one can properly function after a 3 hour meeting. I don’t have a cubicle, but I have an open office space which means you have no privacy. So if you aren’t feeling well, or want to be alone for a bit, good luck. I have to second the public restroom issue, lol.
    Melanie@Dear Debt recently posted…Hello, Summer!My Profile

    • John says:

      I had a few of those in my office days and would always want to go postal afterwards. Talk about a waste of time! Yes, the bathroom issue is definitely a problem. You’d think it wouldn’t be with adults, but sadly it is.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    I don’t really have any issue with my office, but I do hate the traffic getting there. Luckily, it is not as long as it was before, but traffic sucks no matter where you are.
    Grayson Bell recently posted…When Was the Last Time You Stepped Foot in a Bank?My Profile

    • John says:

      Very true – much of why I’m glad not to have to deal with it any longer. At least where having to drive to work is concerned.

  • Definitely don’t miss the office politics. I was never good at all that. I usually worked with my headphones in!
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    • John says:

      I wasn’t either. I’d much rather busy myself with what work I had as opposed to keeping up with who wasn’t happy with who.

  • Bee says:

    I hate the meetings and the dozen or so emails that come with each meeting. An email to setup the meeting, an email for a rough agenda, an email to followup to make sure you’ll be there, recap emails…..it amazes me how much time is wasted.

    My biggest complaint at my current cubicle farm is there is no flexibility in our schedules. There are some times that are naturally busier than others. If I work 10 hours on a busy Thursday and I don’t have anything going on Friday, I can’t take off a couple of hours early to balance things out. I’m expected to be there for a full 8 hours, whether I’m actually working or not. Physical presence is more important than productivity. I guess that’s the same logic behind most meetings too…..
    Bee recently posted…June Spending RecapMy Profile

    • John says:

      Ah yes, I remember all those emails! I always wondered about who it was who sent them all because they couldn’t have time to do other work, lol.

      That was a big thing I hated about my last job – no flexibility. It was just too blasted draining.

  • The office politics are what I don’t miss. I really disliked the drama and politics involved. It’s so nice to be away from that!

  • Derek at MoneyAhoy says:

    I am right there with you – office politics and meetings really can be the worst. Why can’t everyone just get their work done?!?!?

  • Definitely the lights! You wonder if you are starting to see things or if your eyes are just bugging out after a few hours!
    Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…Small Things That Really Pay OffMy Profile

  • Anton Ivanov says:

    Great post! I work at an office full-time (for now) but fortunately it’s a very small and easy going company, so it’s not as bad as some have it.

    But definitely don’t want to be stuck doing this for decades!
    Anton Ivanov recently posted…Grow Your Wealth Year after Year with These 2 Wealth EquationsMy Profile

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