It’s fair to say that most professionals nowadays work in an office environment. Whilst our industries differ, office life itself has many similarities, and whether you work for a bank or an accountancy firm or heck, even a call answering company (wink), you will discover that there are some universal laws attached to office life. If you’re about to embark on your first office job you may not yet know what’s in store or what these rules are, so to help you integrate as painlessly as possible, we have outlined a few laws to help you along the way.
Law 1: Tea & Coffee Matter. A Lot
The first thing to appreciate is that it doesn't matter if you don't even drink tea and coffee (though hat’s off to you for managing without caffeine). All that matters is your participation, even in making the drinks. You may think that if you don’t partake then you also don’t need to brew for others but alas, you are in an office now and this is flawed logic. You will already be under scrutiny for not liking the staple drinks of office life so we suggest you don’t make too many waves on day one and simply smile, make a brew and win the affections of your co-workers.
Similarly, the above holds true if you simply don’t imbibe either drink as much as others. Just because you declined when you were last offered does not mean you are exempt from making drinks at your allotted time.
Our general rule is this: If you are offered a drink always accept, even if you’ve already had three and it’s only 11am. Never try and shirk brewing duty and be aware that brownie points are earned through remembering who takes sugar and who doesn’t.
Law 2: Don’t Take Your Favourite Pen to Work
No one likes to admit to it, but secretly, we’re all a little too attached to our stationary and own at least one favourite pen. They are a work of art to look at, perfectly balanced, write like a dream and never let us down.
But be warned, not everyone loves your pen as much as you. In fact, not everyone loves stationary at all and it is those colleagues you must be wary of because if you lend them your favourite pen, even for ‘a minute’, you may have some harrowing experiences that follow. Like a chewed lid, or lost lid, or being informed it was passed on to Walter from marketing two floors down never to be seen again.
These are the real perils of taking your favourite pen to the office. By all means, take your trusty fountain pen (in luscious sage green), but know that if someone asks to borrow it there is no way of saying no. You must simply hand over your much loved scribbler and hope it somehow makes its way back to you.
Our advice? Take a multitude of bog-standard Biros as decoy. Biro’s are hardy and used to the rough office life, they can handle it, your fountain pen on the other hand is a sensitive soul and won’t make it on its own.
Law 3: Temperature Tiffs
Until you have worked in an office you will never know quite how imperative temperature is. You must be prepared to enter a war-zone in which there are two strongly opposed sides, the ‘Roasting’ Squad and the ‘Gloves Indoors’ Team. We recommend choosing your side carefully because deserters may lose all voting rights as to whether the window should indeed be opened or closed.
The only way to deal with this tiff is with a thermometer and an agreement that windows are opened or shut on the basis of the temperature dropping above or below an agreed point. We also suggest that if you don’t get your way then go rogue with a hand fan and a bobble hat for emergencies.
Law 4: You will be judged on Your Lunch
We know, it’s no one’s business what you eat but that won’t stop your choices being commented on and closely scrutinised. If you are brave and bold enough to bring something particularly pungent like fish or Tikka Masala you will be quickly noted down as ‘the one with smelly lunches’. This is a hard label to shake even if you do it only the once in seven months so be sure to eat delicacies of the overly aromatic kind elsewhere.
Similarly, if you have a very unusual and varied diet, you may have to become used to excessive praise and questioning. You will become the go-to person for recipes and dietary troubles and whenever there is a disagreement about the potential health benefits of avocados your name will undoubtedly be called upon.
We suggest embracing your newfound role of Lunch God and detailing in minute detail how exactly you create the perfect crab pate. We do however advise caution about avocado related discussions as they are rife with controversy.
Now that you have the 4 laws of office life securely under your belt you can go off into the world adequately prepared for one of the most complex man-made ecosystems ever developed. There are of course lesser laws such as the constant struggle to get your swivel chair at optimum height or the fact you will inadvertently become co owner of plants if they happen to be near you, but by and large the above 4 rules are at the heart of the matter and we wish you all the best in capitalising on them.