Saturday, July 20, 2024

Help! I sneak into my office. Is it so bad?

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Dear OOO,

I’m sneaking into my office – which isn’t illegal or anything; I follow company protocol and do it safely. But most of my colleagues are not allowed to participate and I know some of them would like to. The secret is that I’m happy enough to be away from everything else. I tell my family members that I am going to use the “best” equipment. I could try to advocate for my coworkers to be allowed in the office as well, but I like being alone here, and I’m afraid that if I call attention to me walking in, the company will cut me off as well. access. . Do I feel bad about this?


As much as I like to judge people’s lifestyle choices, I am quite ill-equipped to tell you what to make you feel bad about, Anonymous. I turn around and around at night regretting all kinds of things I did or didn’t do, or just thought of doing; the vast majority of these things are things that my friends have told me before are too trivial to merit further consideration. Humans as a species are very bad at applying rationality to their own emotions. So not to undermine my own authority, but I’m skeptical of the effect I can have on your guilt.

And you clearly have some guilt here. You’re not talking about coworkers in particular, but I imagine you have a couple of them in mind that you think could really benefit from a break up with their own family. Maybe you even feel that some of these people deserve escape more than you, because their homes are smaller or their children are noisier.

This feeling, I can tell you conclusively, is a lie. I don’t care how much you love your job – work should never be your escape, and any suggestion to the contrary is a trick of pandemic-era capitalism. People don’t need to “deserve” a break from work or home or anything that weighs on them. The suffering of the Covid era is not a competition, and everyone literally needs time away from family members they love very much (not to mention others).

So let me suggest that your feeling ashamed about hoarding office privileges for yourself is less about the office itself and more about you not having real escape, one with no responsibilities or bosses or corporate regulations. Can you take a week’s vacation and rent a cabin in the woods on your own? Can you take an afternoon off and take a long walk, then indulge in a nap and a delicious meal? Taking time for yourself is more difficult than ever these days, but I would say it’s more important too.

But let’s get back to the real content of your question: you don’t need to feel bad for wanting to spend time alone, but slamming the office door behind you isn’t very sporty. As with many aspects of life during a pandemic, this issue is really about the system and not about individual choices. Shaming yourself for being a little (naturally!) Selfish is unnecessary; the real problem is that your employer doesn’t have the right procedures in place. Tell someone involved in your company’s Covid task force (or whatever) that you are not sure the rules are applied the same and that you think your team members may sometimes want to work from the office. It is their problem to solve or at least to explain. You might even suggest a system where people can set aside time to come solo. Then drop for a week off.

Dear OOO,

I need a final decision on whether it’s okay to eat on Zoom calls. I feel weird doing it, but none of my coworkers seem to do it, and I really hate having to put off my lunch when I have a noon meeting. Do I brave the chewing of the video?


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