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9 May 2022

Experiences In The Office

by Florian

Remote work has been a pretty typical thing for the last two years and we’re starting to hit the inflection point where people wonder if the office really wasn’t so bad. Think of the productivity gains! The water cooler talk! The spontaneous ideation!

Lest we all forget, this was my experience coming into the office.


I worked at a medium sized healthcare technology company that got acquired by a really big healthcare technology company. Since this was my first job out of college, I decided to go into the office everyday for the first year to prove… something? I’m still not sure what, exactly, but remote work didn’t really appeal to me at the time and the gym was a half-block away from work so I knew I’d be going to the office to go to the gym later most days anyway.

Since I was already going to that location, I’ll skip over all the issues with commuting and let’s just focus on what being in the physical office was like. This is a narrative, bulleted list.

Office Experiences

The first year-ish…

The second year-ish

I’d finished my 1 year stint of always going into the office and decided to only go in only 4 days a week.

The third (and final) year

Final Notes

Do I miss going into the office? I can resolutely say no. I miss the occassional chit-chat and getting to know my coworkers better but that’s about it. In other ways I really don’t miss getting to know my coworkers…

Ignorance can be bliss…

It’s incredibly galling to come in and realize the senior engineers (who literally sit next to you) are reading ESPN for 2 hours everyday and embellishing their status reports in standup. When remote, you can ignore this! It’s very difficult to spend 2 hours on a problem only to swivel around and see the “senior” engineer dicking around on their phone. I can ignore this at home!

Pretending to be busy

This is a tired point, but you do spend a lot of time pretending to be busy in an office. This, for me, resulted in a lot more time on LinkedIn. Since it’s technically a “work” social media, it wasn’t blocked and I wound up spending a lot of time on there and subsequently felt awful.

I also felt a lot weirder about coding side projects while in the office. I mostly wanted to code web apps which were very obviously not a work project and everybody around me were coders so I it’s not like they wouldn’t be aware of what I was doing. Ironically, this is a much better use of my spare time than reading work blogs or LinkedIn industry articles, but I felt better about doing the latter. Strange social expectations.

Now, if I don’t have anything to do (which is totally normal at times!) I work on side projects or clean the apartment. Nobody minds.

There’s two classes of workers

When half the office is remote and half isn’t, you create an incredibly bifrucated social environment. For one thing, I always felt like I wasn’t cashing in on some work benefit by coming in. The remote workers got to wake up at 8:55, I had to get up at 7:30. They didn’t have to setup meetings, attend work functions, etc. I did. They didn’t have to respond promptly to messages, I did because I was at the office. They could leave for multiple hours at a time. I couldn’t without it being very obvious.

It always felt kind of toxic to me. There were two different sets of expectations - one for the remote workers, one for the in-office workers - and it never skewed to the benefit of the office employees.

In Summation

Everybody’s different and works in different ways. I get that some people need a place to focus that’s free from distractions. I don’t really feel that way.

I could see myself returning to an office at some point, even. I’m just never returning to an office where half of the people are there and half aren’t. That was the cardinal sin and the thing I hated most. There were two classes of workers and we were treated differently, often to our detriment, for doing the thing the company wants us to do - be in the office.

tags: posts - work