I am running out of blog topics so I thought I might spend some time talking about the strange world of the office space. Having no previous 9-5 office experience, my expectations for working in a professional setting were almost non-existent. Over the past 5.5 weeks, I’ve learned a lot about the strange nuances, formalities, in-formalities, and jargon of the office space.
Coming from 15 years of school where I walk from class to class and can jump from library to library, I’m finding it difficult to sit at one desk for 8 hours a day. My office has plenty of communal spaces, tables, and couches that are made for this specific purpose, however, I don’t want my colleagues to wonder where I am for extended periods of the day. I find it hard to sit at my desk and actually be productive. I’m much more productive when I find a comfy corner in the building where I can sit and focus.
On a similar note, my office has a very flat structure. There are no executive offices, in fact no offices at all. Everyone, even the CEO, has a desk surrounded by other people’s desks (luckily the CEO doesn’t sit on my floor). This has it’s ups and downs. On the plus side, it’s very easy to ask people questions and the open structure facilitates a lot of discussions and collaborations. It’s hard to forget about team meetings because you notice when everyone around you gets up and walks to a conference room at the same time. But, there are also downsides. Everyone can hear every conversation. This can be good at times because it’s easy to jump in and share your input. It is mostly bad, though, because it’s hard to focus on your own work when other people are talking. And although social conversations are good for team bonding and sometimes needed as a work break, they can also be highly distracting. Initially, I didn’t think this would bother me as I often study in noisy places on campus. Perhaps, work is different because my behavior is also being inspected, not just my work, and I am a little more on edge.
One of the strange conventions of the workplace that has certainly taken time to get used to is emailing someone who is sitting right next to you. Part of the reason for this stems from what I just outlined above: talking can be distracting, and if someone is hard at work coding something, you don’t want to jump in and knock them off their groove. However, it is still awkward. When someone emails me, my first instinct is to look at them. This only makes it more awkward. Additionally, It’s hard to tell when I should go up to someone to talk to them or when I should just email them. Even further, should I email them or should I message them on skype for business, slack them, call them, text them, or just shout their name? There are so many platforms for communication that it’s hard to tell what’s the appropriate way to reach someone.
I think all of these conventions may take more than 10 weeks to fully get the hang of, but I’ve been trying my best. I presume it will be strange to return to school after a summer of office culture.