Monday, February 8, 2016

Danger! Danger! Working From Home!

Back in November I transitioned from a full-time Office Manager for a startup where, when I started,  I was told by one of the co-founders that my main goal was to come up with systems and processes; to take the chaos of their workplace and impose order and efficiency.

Which I did. I developed protocols of hiring, for onboarding, for submitting expenses, for paying bills, for ordering supplies. I posted laminated signs about sink cleanliness in response to a directive to come up with "a process" for cleaning dishes. (The orignal push was for me to do them at the end of the day. At which I drew a line faster than you can say "Betty Friedan.")

And every single one (except for the dishes) was disregarded and confounded by the same person who was so adamant about order and process. Add to this that, despite my attempts to schedule a day so that I could tackle the many assignments I had on my plate, I would be blindsided by a sudden decision that, for example,  the computer cords in the office needed to be organized under the desks, or the entire back hallway had to be organized because a candidate was coming in the next day. Never mind that this hallway led to an old loading dock, an area the candidate would never, ever see: no, I had to drop my work and fold boxes in the recesses of a building so creepy that I kept imagining a soft voice hissing "Clariiiiiiiiice..."

There was an obsession with order on the part of the co-founders, an anal-retentive need for decluttering a space crammed with the hoarded second-hand business furniture and tools they'd acquired. (I should point out that this obsession with order rarely translated into them taking on the problem; it usually translated into yours truly having to drop what I was doing in order to  arrange into a very limited space a shit-ton of boxes, product, and tiny metal screws and bolts that seemed to propagate like fleas.)

Everything was a priority: critical projects that I had to attack with the desperation of a Titanic mechanic were suddenly dropped and replaced by completely different tasks with even more urgent deadlines. Once, while in a previous, temporary space,  we were told that we were moving to a new temporary space. Right at that moment. So we found ourselves marching three blocks, carrying computer monitors and pushing dollies of office supplies. Another day I had to stop, drop, and roll because it was suddenly my job to get a second-hand Keg machine up and running. Because you know. Priorities.

So when I'd had enough of the thrill of banging my head against a wall in a job where I controlled no part of my day or work, when  I decided I was going back to school to do something that did not involved answering emails all day, we decided I'd be a part-time independent contractor working from home, at least temporarily.

Now, I'd been warned by others who worked from home about the social isolation, the boredom, the lack of structure.

The thing is: I. friggin'. loved. it.

I loved not having a commute, loved being able to work in my jammies, walk away from my desk and make some coffee when a particularly annoying email came in.

Best of all, I didn't have to stop what I was doing ten times a day because nobody else could figure out how to, say,  start a coffee machine. No more back hallway, no more supplies. No more meetings.I was invisible and out of mind, freeing me to get things done.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a fairly lonely person right now, but I was just as lonely when I went to work every day and felt like a frustrated fish out of water. At least this way I got to step away; I got to control my time and avoid being crowded.

The job ended last week, and I was also warned about being bored. Well, I go to school full time, am memorizing lines for a play, and I still need to clean a house, and get things done, and you know what?

I love this, too.

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