by REBECCA SPARROW
The list of things I miss about working in an office is long and varied.
1. There’s the clothing, of course. I miss buttoning up that gorgeous new polka-dot blouse you got on sale at Zara. Zipping up a pencil skirt. Slipping heels onto my feet. Putting on lipstick. BRUSHING MY HAIR. I miss the need, the requirement, to look fabulous rather than how I often look – like a crazy lady who possibly spent the night sleeping in the bushes outside with da possums. Interestingly, when your days are spent negotiating with a 3 year old, nobody cares that you’re wearing ‘on trend’ stockings. Put it this way, I dubbed 2012 “The year of the elasticised waistband”.
What else? 2. I miss the dialogue. The office banter. The 5-minute grabs of conversation with co-workers about The Voice or Bob Katter’s hats or how your boss is doing your head in.
3. I miss the gossip. Tim from Accounts is dating Debra from Marketing. GET. OUT! (It felt good just writing that sentence).
4. I miss the commute. Being in a car ALONE. Reading on the train ALONE. Being in the work bathroom ALONE. I miss typing without the dead weight of a three-year-old on my lap who hits keys at random and blithely announces her bottom is itchy.
5. I miss the Friday afternoon wind-down where people don’t even pretend to work. The impromptu – who feels like sushi? – lunch hours with colleagues. Melbourne Cup (sitting at home in my trakky daks eating a ryvita while I watch the race isn’t as thrilling as it sounds. Weird, I know). Christmas parties. Secret Santa. Pretending to work while you’re trying to Google Michael Buble’s birth date because Tim in Accounts thinks Michael Buble is 45 when he’s so clearly not even over 40. What a moron. (Tim in Accounts. Not you. You’re awesome. Tim from Accounts is a f*ck-knuckle.)
But what I really, really miss about working in an office? 6. All the cake. So much cake. For some of us, going to work is really just like hanging out in a bakery for 7 hours. Red velvet cupcakes for Joanna’s birthday! Mud cake for Easter! Chocolate brownies because Shaun’s leaving! Muffins for Abbey’s promotion!
I just gained a kilo typing that paragraph.
Every office has a Martha Stewart who lives to bake and takes delight in watching colleagues take bite after bite of sugary goodness as though they’re a gaggle of geese and a she’s farmer with a fondness for foie gras. Let’s call Martha what she is people: A FEEDER. And it’s having an impact on your waistline.
A study by the Co-op has found that desk-based workers in British offices put on an average of 4.5kg (10lb) during the first year of employment. The majority of them blame the unhealthy treats provided by co-workers for their inability to keep their weight down. One in seven of those surveyed said they felt peer pressure to join in when food is passed round, and no wonder, when everyone else is enjoying a delicious slice of chocolate cake.
We discussed this at our morning meeting and immediately all eyes swivelled in my direction, for I am the colleague you blame for your expanding waistline. I am a feeder. Almost daily, for the past six years, I have bought an array of cakes, biscuits and sweets to the desk. What started as a rare celebration ritual has become an almost mundane occurrence for the Comment desk workers. At about 3pm, people start looking around furtively, or a plaintive plea for sugar will float across the desks. We are now an office addicted to treats.
I make no apologies for your fear of the scales. I think a cake break is a nice way for colleagues to break any formalities for a few minutes. The sugar perks everyone up for a while, and an office has a nice co-operative feel to it when everyone takes it in turns to buy in the goodies.
So what do you (or would you) miss most about working in an office? And when the office cake is dished up, are you smacking your lips or hiding in the corner with your vegemite ryvitas?