Working abroad: One man’s journey through pain and heartache

For the past six months, I have been working from home. Yesterday, our new office opened, and I had to go in to work.

Waking up early. Commuting to work. Remembering to wear pants.

This is the story of my waking nightmare.

When I moved to Denver last August, I already had a job lined up. The company was in the process of opening its Denver branch, so it didn’t yet have a building or offices. In the meantime, the dozens of people hired in the area worked from home, having been told that an office was being built in Denver. This was a lie.

The office was actually being built in Louisville (pronounced Lewis-ville, because why the hell not), about a 45-minute drive from my place in ideal conditions. This is like being told the Super Bowl is being held in New York and then finding out it’s in New Jersey, but only after you’ve traveled to New York and made all of your plans there.

This world of pain and deception is just the setting. Let’s work through the entire arc. This is my story. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I had heard the negatives of working from home before. The inconsistent sleep schedules. The lack of productivity due to distractions. The loss of social skills. The complete deterioration of hygiene.

I feel like I came through it pretty well though.

I feel like I came through it pretty well though.

Most of those didn’t apply to me. I wasn’t working for myself, so I still had to have regular hours, and because we bill clients, I had to keep track of my time. I was always held accountable. Because of this, my sleep schedule and productivity didn’t really suffer.

Also, partly in connection to that schedule, I need a shower in the morning to wake up. If I made my own hours and could just roll out of bed whenever, I could probably go without it. As it is, that shower is more effective than caffeine at waking me up. And I already had a beard, so the complete lack of a reason to shave hardly affects me. So my hygiene is still pretty okay. Look, it’s never going to be great. But the level of “pretty okay” didn’t noticeably drop.

I did have much less contact with others, so my social skills might have declined. I don’t know and I don’t care. Less socializing is not what I call a bad thing.

There's a certain kind of people I hate. They're called "people".

There’s a certain kind of people I hate. They’re called “people”.

Sure, at previous office jobs I have “made friends” that I then “enjoyed hanging out with.” But that seems like a freak occurrence. Not even worth discussing.

There have also been people in my company (which has a pretty lenient work-from-home policy) who talk about how working from home for extended lengths leads to not going outside and wearing pajamas just all day long. I have yet to figure out how they say it in a way where it sounds like a bad thing, but that is clearly the way they mean it.

The downfalls of working from home, then, have been of no concern to me. Let’s move and look at the downfall of working at an office.

First things first, holy crap, losing that extra sleep is terrible. I thought my alarm was joking when it went off. This does go back to the overly long drive–however long it takes you to commute to work is how much earlier you have to wake up.

And like I said, that was a long commute. There were multiple accidents on the way there and another one on the way back. I never got stuck in traffic due to an accident working from home. I’m fairly confident I never will.

Even before the commute though, I had to put on actual clothes. Socially acceptable ones! I usually wear a pair of work pants I got as a Christmas gift, which are Batman pajama pants. Thankfully, it’s a casual workplace, so I could wear jeans and a t-shirt.

Other people, including the VP heading this office, seemed to have trouble with this aspect as well. Wearing a hat was a quick substitute for combed hair, and scraggly beards littered the faces of my coworkers.

There are lots of small things too. The noise of other coworkers–chatter, typing, phone calls–is awful. Not having your own bathroom is uncomfortable. Being visible to others and thus unable to surf the less productive parts of the web makes everything boring.

But also: you have to be a decent person. At home, gases can escape at will. When you’re sharing an office with other people though, you can’t just let it fly. Oh, sure, you’re not going to just hold it in, but you have to be discreet. It is a ridiculous situation. The amount of mental energy it takes to keep from being a pariah after six months of no limitations means I’m being less productive. It’s just a bad business decision to have me be around other people, both for me and those around me. I think all of my coworkers–current and past–would agree with that.

I don’t actually work with anyone in the office either. There are a couple of people I’ve had tangential work contact with, but they work on other projects that have little to nothing to do with me. So, naturally, when I first heard about this Louisville office that is very distinctly not a Denver office, I complained about it. My boss heard about that complaining.

But my boss is great, so I still get to mostly work from home. However, one day a week I will still have to make this journey. Every week I will be reminded of the despair of cubicle life and all that it entails.

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53 thoughts on “Working abroad: One man’s journey through pain and heartache

  1. Without the now-weekly reminder of being in an office, you might eventually stop appreciating all the good things you have – especially your Bat-Man pajama pants. They’re doing you a great service.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Somehow, working from home has never been a favorite with yours truly. Distractions too many. No freedom from the better half! Having to drink the terrible tea I make myself!!

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  3. I would love nothing more to work from home. The thing that kills me the most is that I’m stuck here. I hate feeling trapped and I hate spending most of my life in an office whether other not I have work to do. (Being an executive assisting, I don’t have much of a choice). The worst part of my office experience is that I’m an introvert and being around people I don’t like just makes me an angry, unhappy person. I want to be free, but I am just angry instead. Sorry to vent to you, but I don’t get to often, especially with someone who shares a similar pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In other words you are not a robot you like to live life. I worked in such cubical environments and unhealthy offices and I don’t miss it. Some people aren’t meant to be locked down to a desk and I totally can relate to the people thing. You are not alone.

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    • Oh, how I know that feeling. Why not start your own business then? I did. It is way more difficult and you never know if you are going to make rent sometimes but no cubicles.

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  4. Starting the work-from-home thing in a couple of weeks and am mostly optimistic. This just makes me even more so. Little worried about the decline in social skills and possible strain on the relationship with the SO – I can just see myself more or less pouncing on him when he gets home from work, because I’m craving face-to-face interaction – but it may be very well worth cutting out that commute! The no pants thing is also a huge plus!!! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Currently working from home…and there is an expectation that I will appear at the office sort of weekly – though that is flexible. PJ pants and sarongs are my favourite work attire ๐Ÿ™‚ – comfortable clothing allows you to concentrate better on the tasks at hand. My social skills are kept acceptable as I do have meetings in the field with clients, however, remembering to control bodily gasses …… now thats a challenge.

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  6. “But also: you have to be a decent person. At home, gases can escape at will.” –That spoke to my soul. When I can work in my room instead of the studio, I can pass gas and work in the nude. Thanks for posting!

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  7. When I worked in an office, there was usually work to “bring home”. Then I spent evenings “working at home” in order to bring the work back to the office the next morning. Not working at all is definitely better.

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  8. *sigh* at least you live the dream! As a heavy equipment operator, I shall never have such a luxury! Maybe if I ever become a serious writer, I, too, can live the dream in my Cartman boxers (speaking of which, LUV that picture, dude!)

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  9. haha your funny but I agree with your argument to some degree I think I would miss the chatting not because Im a girl but just because I like to socialize but not to the point it gets intoxicating

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  10. Pingback: Working abroad: One manโ€™s journey through pain and heartache | Dinatale Internet Marketing

  11. Oh God, yes, the NOISES of working with people. It’s AWFUL. I have a Sniffler. He’s a nice guy, but he SNIFFLES wet sniffs beside me All Dang Day, for roughly 11 months of the year. Offers of tissues and/or allergy pills are simply waived off… “No thanks, I don’t need any, I’m good, SNIFFLE SNORT.”

    Sounds, smells, commuter exhaustion, battles for the thermostat (you missed that one), plus the usual work stress on top? Surely these are the makings of Postal-Going. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Like

  12. Recently got laid off and making the trip to Denver area as soon as I can line something up. Being couped up inside these last few weeks has been interesting. It started out awesome…but is starting to lose its luster quickly!! However, I do enjoy no traffic, that’s a major plus!!

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  13. Oh I cannot begin to talk about the horrors of my office. The guy sitting to my left is constantly scratching his armpits. And the woman on my right stinks. As if that’s not bad enough, the restrooms and the coffee machine are really close together. Right behind my workstation. Imagine the smells that waft in all day!
    But on the bright side, they do have a flexitime policy. Ah who am I kidding. I hate my office! *sigh*

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  14. In less than a month I will be working full time from home unless I get a job. Which is, for various reasons, but mainly my age, unlikely. I’m looking forward to it but I’m also terrified I’ll go to pot. The last time I was unemployed for an extended time, 15 years ago, that’s what happened. I’m taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve created a work plan that I intend to stick to. I make it a point to shave every morning just like I would if I had to go to work. Beards have worked for writers–Hemingway being the most popular example–but they don’t work for me. I thought of wearing a shirt and pant but dropped it. It’s too much.

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  15. I was a self employed computer consultant for 8 years and I loved working from home! When the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008 I was forced to go back to work for someone else and I haven’t been the same since. Great post!

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  16. Work from home & I love it! I can do what I need to do for my family & work at the same time. I enjoy the piece of mind to take off when I want….www.SFIExtraincome.com13526820

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  17. I’ve had my own business and worked from home for 20 years. I’d sooner die than go to an office everyday. And you’re right — it’s about the constant presence of other people. I mean that in the nicest possible way since I like people but only by appointment. :} I thought your piece was really funny and fun to read.

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  18. Have worked from home for 6 + years now.Company listens in on all phone conversations and knows when I sign on/sign off from computer. I document my work all day long. I am quite productive and probably spend more time at work since my work station is a 10 foot commute. Less gas, less wear & tear on my car, less new clothes needed and no wasted time commuting back/forth nor getting dressed for the office every day.

    The down side? ISOLATION. No chitchat between friends in the john or at the water fountain, communication only by email and no personal messages allowed and difficult to feel a part of the larger organization.

    I make sure I get out of the house on my days off and a few days of the week. I try to socialize outside of work time.

    I don’t worry about flatus nor lack of makeup. Away from the politics of the office.

    Quiet work environment is a good thing…at least, for now

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  19. I agree with you that shower works much better in the morning than the coffee. No cubicle can replace the beauty of not having to rush to work, having time to make your own coffee, have a shower, wear comfy clothes that you actually like and not clothes considered appropriate for the office environment …and just slowly start your work. Be in a bad mood in the morning if you like it, be all happy face if you fancy that…working from home is just pure perfection! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  20. Seriously hysterical. I just got a bunch of stares at a cafe……as i sat alone and reading this, busted out laughing…..
    i fear i was just one of those noisy people that makes cubicle life so wretched… it’s totally your fault for being hilarious..

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  21. This is really great, I can completely agree with about all of this article. I love how you tie in the company’s productivity to this aspect. I think if more business owners took note, it could be very profitable. Nice humor, too!

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  22. I’d be lying if I said your post was a ray of sunshine, but I can relate to your situation. They, being those experts we often refer to, believe the stress of driving is the biggest contributing factor to despising our workplaces. Try to listen to a range of conversation pod casts or relaxing music. Anyway, thanks for the post.

    Like

  23. Oh my! I have been really wanting to work from home. I can relate to this very much. And this one “Being visible to others and thus unable to surf the less productive parts of the web makes everything boring.” It’s really true. Haha

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  24. Sounds like “nature’s natural tranquilizers” will come in handy for that one day a week in the office. Seriously. As for me, I went from my office on the road — I was a sales ‘Road Warrior’ — to my office at home where I write books full-time. (And I let those gasses fly as a deterrent to my spouse’s unexpected interruptions when I’m 30,000 light-years out of present time in a story. tohttp://ronkule.wordpress.com/

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    • Very nice post,I’m in South Africa and working in the mine…now an entrepreneur in the making and having fun working at home.I just dread the day when the strike is over and having to go underground,I just hope when that day arrives I can just resign and focus on entrepreneurship

      Like

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