There are some things about going into an office I miss. I miss getting to wear lipstick and feeling excited about wearing a new dress in front of humans who are not my husband. I miss free coffee and snacks. And sometimes I even miss collaborating with coworkers in person. But honestly, as an introvert, I totally don’t mind remotely working. In fact, there’s a lot I actually don’t miss from the office.
I’ve been working from home for a little over a year now. At first — and this was pre-pandemic — I couldn’t imagine a world in which I didn’t have to get up early and drive an hour to work and structure my entire life around an 8+ hour day away from my house. And then, a couple of weeks into my new remote job, I realized that I had truly been missing out on the good life. Working from home is awesome.
It’s awesome in a lot of big ways, but small ones, too. Not having to deal with cringe-y moments that only happen in an office setting. Most likely, if you’ve worked in a traditional office environment, you’ve dealt with these conundrums.
1. “Popping” into my boss’s office.
I still don’t understand how to casually “pop” into a boss’s office. Like, do I have to let them know first? Am I being annoying? Should I knock on their door? What if the door is open? Do I wave at them? I literally do. Not. Know.
2. Asking if people want the door open or closed.
Pretty much after every meeting with someone, I’ll ask if they want the door open or closed, and I don’t know why this fills me with such anxiety, but it does. Every single time.
3. Having to go #2 in a full bathroom.
I know, I know. Everybody poops. And as a 30-year-old, I should probably not be using “number two” as a euphemism, but here we are. There’s something way too primal about pooping in a bathroom knowing your coworkers are mere feet away from you. I don’t care how much we’ve tried to normalize pooping at work — being in close proximity to others while you’re pooping will never not make me want to shrivel up and turn into dust. (Also, s/o to anyone reading this who also has IBS! That just adds to the fun, right?)
4. Having nothing to contribute during a meeting but feeling obligated to.
You know you should say something insightful, but you just don’t have it in you. And you *know* your boss has noticed your silence.
5. Mandatory happy hours.
Maybe this should be filed under “dreadful moments” instead of awkward ones, but I 100% do not miss awkward small talk during mandatory happy hours where I pretend to not want to drive back to my house and take off my bra and eat a handful of Doritos before dinner.
6. Starting a meeting with a light-hearted joke nobody cares about.
“Soooo hi everyone, I hope everyone had a great weekend. Let’s talk about something exciting, like website metrics and where we’re at with meeting our company-wide KPIs!” *Am met with a dozen blank stares*
7. Accidentally eating someone else’s food in the fridge and getting caught.
See also: Accidentally taking someone else’s food they’re preparing, like a bagel in the toaster.
8. Walking to your car/train at the same time as another employee and REALLY not wanting to chat but knowing you probably should.
I have actually pretended I left something in my office so I wouldn’t have to take the elevator and then walk all the way to the parking garage with a former boss. Like, honestly, life is too short to deal with that nonsense.
9. Zoning out on your laptop, definitely not working, only to realize your manager is right behind you.
Oh, this Best Of Vine compilation I’m watching on YouTube? Totally work-related. Totally research. Totally not wasting the company’s money right now.
10. Taking way too long to connect your laptop to the projector.
I have broken into a sweat trying to figure out which wire is compatible with my laptop/why the connection is not working and also seeing a blue screen instead of my desktop. See also: Giving a presentation, and being so nervous you forget how to use Powerpoint or Google Slides so someone has to say, “You just click that button on the right-hand corner to get the next slide” and you just pretend to laugh at yourself but really you want to die and be reincarnated as something that never has to give presentations in front of large groups of people ever again.
11. Having one too many drinks at the holiday party and saying things you regret the next morning.
And you can’t really blame the alcohol, because it’s just generally understood that you shouldn’t *actually* get drunk at a work party, even if there’s an open bar and they’re serving top-shelf.
12. Thinking you pressed the mute button, but not actually pressing the mute button.
And saying something rude, like, “Why would they ever think that’s a good idea?” or “Let’s just pretend to go with this to humor them, but we won’t be implementing this.” Always make sure the little red light for “mute” is on.
13. Being the one who ordered the most expensive office lunch.
14. Not knowing what to do when you have a meeting with someone and they’re still in a meeting with someone else.
Do you go back to your office? Do you just stand there? Do you take someone else’s empty seat? The options are endless, and they are all uncomfortable.
15. Being crammed in a small conference room for a meeting and smelling B.O., and realizing you are that person with B.O.
Sometimes you have to learn the hard way that sometimes natural deodorant does not work.
16. Using business jargon incorrectly in front of a bunch of people.
Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep, I think about all the times I’ve popped terms like “pipeline” or “low-hanging fruit” or “turnkey” into sentences without fully realizing what I was talking about, and feel genuinely haunted and also sad for myself.
17. Getting a passive-aggressive Slack from someone sitting right next to you.
Thank you, technology, for setting our productive confrontation skills back by a billion years.
18. Watching someone collecting their belongings after getting laid off and saying goodbye.
Okay, this is equally sad as it is awkward. I hate these moments. I hate this even more than I hated getting laid off during a weird Zoom meeting. Can we just not ever go back to offices ever again?
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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