Friday, January 3, 2014

The Differences Between Working in a Conventional Work Environment and Home

The above picture makes me cringe when I look at it remembering how it felt to work in a cubicle.

I often think about how much I like NOT working in a conventional office or factory. At least once a day I think that thought. I wrote another blog post here in a similar vein. I often am grateful for the major differences like getting to sleep on my own schedule, taking breaks when I want, taking days off when I want but today after reading a blog post about the subtle differences between Scotland and Finland found here and very entertaining, I started thinking about the subtle differences between a conventional job and working for yourself. Those differences would be different for everyone depending on their preferences and pet peeves. Below are some of mine. Positive and negative. I'd love to hear what yours are. Please share in the comments and I'll add them to my list.

In my last job I worked in an office and the job before that in a laboratory. The environments were different but some things remained the same. My work environment now is vastly different than either of those settings. Read on.

1. In my last job I shared an office for a while with a woman who listened to NPR all day every day. I love NPR but my job required a lot of reading and concentration and I could. not. concentrate. She would sometimes turn it down if I requested but even that just would not let me concentrate on my reading tasks. There was no way she simply would turn it off.

For some people it is worse. They work in places where they are forced to listen to canned music all day every day. Like grocery stores, malls etc. At Christmas time they have to listen to Christmas music (starting probably sometime in October or November) every day for months! As stay at home workers we can listen to ANY music we want, as loud or quiet as we want or have silence if that is how we work best.

2. At my office job the temperature varied greatly from one office to the next. There was one person who had control over the thermostat because she came in earlier than everyone (same person as above). I'd come in most days and my office would feel like the Mojave desert it was so HOT. The rest of us complained but this person didn't really care about anyone else's needs. Here at home I control the thermostat. I also can dress in any manner so if I'm cold I can throw on a sweatshirt and if I'm warm whip it off.

3. The bathroom where I used to work was used by the public and was sometimes quite disgusting. Granted my own bathroom is sometimes a little disgusting LOL but at least I know who has been there....I don't have to worry if I stink it up either. TMI, I know.

4. At my previous jobs I didn't like having to chat and be social when I first got in in the morning. I need a good hour and a cup of coffee before I'm in that zone. Now I wake up, get my cup of coffee, go back to bed and spend that hour I need, reading blogs, checking to see what sold, looking at Pinterest etc. You get the idea.

5. I remember how one of the highlights of office work was when something I ordered came in. A new calendar..some it was a tiny little thrill. Now I shop for a living. I get those tiny little thrills every time I shop. Even when the things I buy aren't for me!

6. I used to get so bored at work. I didn't really love what I did. Some of it was interesting but mostly not. I'd fight to stay with a task. Eight hours seemed like forever. I love what I do now. Yes some days it feels like the movie Ground Hog day...get up, take pictures, do shipping....blah blah blah but it doesn't take very many days or hours like that before the spark and interest come back. I love researching new items and learning all kinds of new and weird things.

7. When I worked in a lab I had to spend a lot of time on my feet. Physically it was hard for me. Although I spend too much time bent over a computer now I like that I can take frequent breaks to get up and do something else or dance to a good tune. Physically it's much better.
There are some things I miss about working outside the home.

1. Although I'm not a very social person, I sometimes feel like I don't have enough human contact anymore. Hours can go by after I get up without me speaking a word except to my dog...who doesn't answer back. I'm thinking about volunteering somewhere to meet that need and make a difference at the same time. 

2. I miss feeling 'respectable'. You know what I mean? Even though I hated my jobs for the most part, there is something to be said for being able to easily answer the question, what do you do for a living. I also felt like I was making a more of a contribution to the world. In reality, I know that I AM still making a contribution to the world by my current career choice. I keep things from going into a land fill and I avoid buying a lot of things for my own use that are NEW thus keeping unnecessary production waste out of our environment. I'm also able to spend a lot of time with my mom who is ill and lives by me.

Someone recently introduced me to a man named James Altucher. He has a blog here and there are various interviews and Youtube videos of him. He's got some interesting things to say about working for ones self, although I don't know how much I trust a guy who made millions and lost it all - twice. I have to read more to see.

How about you? Did you love/hate your previous jobs?  Do you miss the social element of work? Do you see this as a long term thing or is it just to get by until you get a conventional job?


  1. I just mentioned to my hubby that I wanted to join the senior center near my house so I could have someone to talk to. lol. I need a little social interaction now and then. All I have is my blog and my cats during the day. And being an online seller is a respectable job! Don't ever feel like it's not. Call it "online marketing" if you want it to sound fancier. Some ebay sellers make a lot of money! (I'm not one of them). Working in the real world sucks. I've been through 2 min wage jobs in the last 6 months and I quit. I figured if I had to work that hard for someone else for pennies, I could work that hard for myself and the potential to make more money is there. To me the most difficult part about ebaying is finding stuff to sell, or "sourcing." It's tough finding good things at low prices where I am, but I keep trying and now and then I get a good score (like the Am girl doll), which pumps me up to keep going. Although I'd like an easy conventional part time job just to know I have a steady income, I'm alright with just ebaying for now (as long as stuff keeps selling anyway).

    1. I've found that the longer I am in the biz the easier it is to source things. I've learned so much from reading blogs and studying other sellers that has opened my eyes to a lot of things I'd never have thought to sell. I used to sell primarily used clothing (current styles). I hardly sell any of that anymore.

  2. Oh I gotta check out Jame's vids next. Great posts! The cubicle photo bought me back. The cubicle itsself made me a little nostalgic because I used to decorate the HELL out mine and left that legacy at my old job:

    Definitely going to write a follow-up to the post. This year I worked really hard on business and it's been the most isolating year of my life, hence a resolution to get active in the community again. I too had trouble relating to my co-workers, I was in the tiny marketing department and was actually told not to interact with the sales team (most of the job) much which made it even harder, but I do miss the chatter and people just being around me all the time. We're social organisms, we're not meant to be in too much isolation. Just humans surrounding you can be comforting.

    But truth be told looking back on it, my absolute favorite time was getting to work SUPER early, like 1.5 hours early, usually the first one there, and sitting at the computer (before clocking in) and working on my blog ;) It was the most relaxing, peaceful, wonderful zen time. And now that and the businesses that sprung from it get to be my full time job, so all in all it's MUCH better.

    Oh and I miss being able to call an IT guy to fix any and every tech problem. This year I had to figure out a LOT of technology on my own and it was frustrating.

    1. which made it much harder* sorry for the typos in this comment. lack of sleep. zzz.

    2. Van your cubicle was great. I never thought to cover the gray walls with pretty fabric.

      Yes I agree. It would be nice to have an IT person LOL. I went out and bought a little toolkit to work on my own computer a couple of years ago. I probably didn't really need it but it looked so cool. I have used the tiny screwdriver a few times when I've dropped my laptop and the screen stopped working. Turned out that the connection had come loose. It was a simple fix but scary at the time. There is always Geek Squad too.

  3. I feel funny about telling people that I sell on eBay. ( I also work part time as a sonographer). A career as a sonographer pays very well, but with that comes stress. I am about over that stress thing!

    I love to source items to sell, list them and pack them up to mail out. Selling on line makes me happy. Pics need to get off the fence and decide to make the voice to go full time eBay, but that decision kinda scares me. It maybe time to face my fears :-)

    For social interaction, I stay active in my church

    1. Perhaps you could take a year off from your job and sell full time on ebay on a trial basis. Then go back to working as a sonographer if you change your mind. When I first went full time on ebay I had just lost my full time job. I started thinking about NOT looking for a new job and going full time with ebay and it was scary. I floated the idea by a couple of people who were encouraging so I went for it. That was three years ago. I'm still not to the point where I can replace my former income but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I can get there.

      I love to source and research. The listing and packing is part of the game but I don't enjoy it so much. Packing I don't mind at all if I have the right box handy but if I don't it gets annoying.

      Thanks for commenting and reading :)

  4. I previously worked in retail and in office type atmospheres. For all of the reasons you listed, I'm so grateful to be able to work from home!

    1. Oh yes, I didn't mention it but I also worked in retail for a couple of years. I forgot about a lot of the hardships of that job while writing this blog post. And I'm sure you relate...there are many. Standing on your feet for eight hours straight, the music, bad customers, demands/goals that are set by corporate that are impossible to meet, the dress codes, the ever changing schedule. That was one of my hardest and lowest paying jobs. I'm glad you reminded me. Today that thought will make me extra grateful to be working from my home.