April 3, 2008

Office Jobs: The Tipping Point

Update – 7/28/2015
It has now been more than 7 years since I wrote this post! If anyone is interested, I am finishing up my degree this summer and am now getting ready to apply to graduate school this fall. It has been a long and tough process but I have learned a lot along the way. I now have a much better picture of the type of career I am looking for and hope to pursue a job that allows me to work outdoors studying our planet. While it will require some time at a desk, it is far more interesting to me than my old technical support position that I had when I originally published this post. Good luck to everyone out there that still follows this comment thread!

Update – 3/5/2014
Wow, it’s almost the 5 year anniversary of writing this post!. I just want to say thanks to everyone that keeps commenting, it’s really interesting to read what other people are feeling. If anyone is interested, I decided to go back to school a little over a year ago to pursue a new career field that allows me to work outdoors. So far I am really enjoying it. I think the key is to keep trying new things until you eventually find something you enjoy doing.

Update – 12/7/2012
It’s been more than 4 years since I wrote this post, thought now would be a good time to post a quick update. First off, I am still amazed by how many people have commented on this post! Over the past 4 years I’ve been self-employed as a web developer. It’s been fun and I have learned a ton about myself as well as business. Believe it or not I sometimes miss working in the office and having co-workers to mingle with. I’ve realized that I really disliked technical support as a career, which is why I hated my job so much. However, I do enjoy computer programming because it allows you to be more creative when finding solutions to difficult problems.

I think the point has almost come where I have had enough with the office jobs. I cannot stand sitting in cubicles pretending to be busy all day. I hate the fact I get paid for the time I spend here, rather than the amount of productivity I provide.

I swear, some weeks I do 40 hours of work and others I do 5. Either way I have to sit here for a minimum of 40 hours just to get a full paycheck. Not exactly the ideal work situation.

Now I know a lot of people may say I wish I had a job like this, which is fine. But honestly, I feel like I am wasting my life away by sitting here bored all day thinking of things I would rather be doing and places I would rather be. Everyone says you only get one shot at life, so why should I spend mine this way.

Sure It Pays Well

I know the job may pay more than other jobs, but I am not a money driven person my any means. Matter of fact, I am sick of the whole rat race. It seems like people here in America keep trying harder and harder to make more money so they can accumulate more stuff they don’t even need.

I barely own anything since I move so often, but I still feel like I own a lot of stuff I don’t need. Things like televisions and cable boxes are something I never need. I barely watch TV, so why have one. I am perfectly happy with the two suitcases I moved out to Hawaii with. A few sets of clothes, my MacBook, and a few other essentials. So in the next few months, I plan to sell more of my stuff. The only tough thing is going to be the car, which I only bought so I could commute to work with.

Time To Say Goodbye

So at some point in the very near future, I am going to kiss this “perfect” job away as some would say. I would rather work a job I enjoy and just be happy with what I have. The only stress in my life is caused by the combination of getting up early, commuting to work, sitting at work, and commuting home from work. Other than that, I am a very outgoing and happy person.

Back in college, I was broke almost the entire time. But you know what, I was never stressed out about anything, not even money. I used to give plasma just to have some beer money to go party with my friends. I lived off of oatmeal and rice and am willing to do it again if necessary. So obviously money is not the problem, but the fact I spend so much of my waking hours at a job that I have no motivation to perform well at.

I Don’t Even Want To Be Promoted

What is even worse about this job is when I look at the people of above me and realize I wouldn’t even want their position. So if you do not even want to move up to your supervisors position, why stick around? I never want to get a promotion or I’ll probably go even more crazy.

I am not real sure exactly what type of job I am looking for just yet. I would like to work outside that is for sure. Maybe a surf stand or cleaning boats or windows, who knows, just anything outside of an office. I used to do freelance work and loved it since I could set my own hours and wages. I also enjoy writing and hope to make some income off of this blog at some point.

Photo Credit: darkpatator

444 thoughts on “Office Jobs: The Tipping Point

  1. Clare

    What a brilliant site – thank goodness there are people who think exactly the same way as I do!! Office work is absolutely crap and to be honest I always end up in jobs I’m over-qualified for now. My first experience of an office was terrible. After law school I went in so unprepared for the small-minded office environment and I was constructively bullied into leaving the job I was initially proud to have been offered because I didn’t ‘fit in’. Fact is, if you don’t fit into a company’s social circle, no matter how good you are for the job on paper and in practice, it’s the people you see every day who will decide whether your career goes ahead or not. I’ve been at two companies since then where I’ve openly heard the in-house lawyer (!) say “Oh, yeah, erm we didn’t like them so we found a way to get rid of them” (errrrmm, did you cover constructive dismissal at law school?) The 9-5 routine is the most ridiculous and unhealthy lifestyle anyone can lead – it’s not natural to be productive or creative between the same hours every day, sitting on the motorway for hours, drinking excessive caffeine all day long – it’s so weird. I’m working on my escape plan every night (in the two measly hours I have left to myself before I need to sleep and do it all again), until I’m ready to escape for good… Good luck to everyone here who wants out too and who has made the jump already! :)

  2. JerseyBoy

    What astonishes me most about this site is that people from all over the world and varying career types and levels are all joined together!!

    Engineers, Lawyers, IT …..LOL

    I like having somewhere to go but I think my dream job would be something that is part-time and a mix of sitting and standing without having to labor to hard.

    There is nothing worse then sitting in front of a computer all day when the sun shining and its 70 degrees out.

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree, it is amazing how people from all different situations feel the same way. I guess it’s proof that there is no ideal job for everyone. What works for one person might be a drag for another.

  3. Clare

    Thanks Justin :) I agree on the sitting down all day issue too – I need more of a balance of standing and walking around ideally. Best of luck in finding your ideal part-time pursuit JerseyBoy.

  4. Luke

    There are pros and cons any office job. You learn how to deal with people that are moody, happy, stressed, demanding. It’s a healthy experience and every place is different. I think it all comes down to perception.

    Try to remember that a particular office may not suit you but they may suit other people, you just haven’t found the right company for you yet. And that is perfectly normal. You don’t have to be adaptable and you don’t have to put up with an overload of work demand. You may get a lot of emails but you don’t have eight hands so a vast chunk of time is spent replying to emails and talking about work that needs doing, but you get done what you can.

    You may feel a burning sensation of stress which some people can handle and brush aside as just a list to work on, somehow, whilst others think and ponder it over and freak out over the demand, sometimes.

    I personally believe that the problem is actually the fomality and the fact that work/business/profit/ideas/innovation seems to be more important then the social part of it which has to be existant in the office itself. I don’t mean everyone has to be friends. I just think that companies function better when it doesn’t feel like a cliched office and especially when it doesn’t just feel like a cliched job.

    Ever notice that when everyone starts chatting and their is noise everywhere that everyone else starts to banter as well. The reason is because people feel less self conscious once they know they aren’t being heard by the entire complex, so when everyone is distracted/busy/chatting in their own cubicle workstation they start to feel more relaxed which leads to better focus and the job starts to feel less like a cliched cage of a job. It’s hard to explain .

    Watch the show Press Gang, it just looks like a bunch of friends working in an office wearing normal clothes (no suits). It feels more like a community and there is purpose and emotion involved. It feels real.

    A quiet office with people stressed out staring at a computer screen all day working fingers to the bone lacks what i mention above. It’s easier said then done to create a better work environment but it means that people make human connections and this brings out a sense of humour and personality which leads to clearer thinking and a more comfortable atmosphere between people.

    That is the problem in the corporate world as well. On one hand you want efficiency but it’s way more important to create the right environment first which excludes many cliches of many office environments. This comes down to staff/employees instigating conversation and asking questions ..

    Everybody wants what they don’t have and so i don’t think the main issue is the office, i think it’s the career choice and environment that fits you that is more important.

  5. Neesey

    I got laid off last year from a 12 year job but worked 17 years before that in another job. I just dread going back to an office and being locked up all day inside. I do like some office work but would like a job with a little bit of office but the rest of time I can do standing up and out and about work. There was just so much drama in my last office job. I just want something to make me happy and I like to do. I feel you go to work to pay for a car to go to work in…..I wish I could rent out cabins in the mountains. I like the mountains, crafts, art, writing , readying. I feel like since I lost my job that this is my chance to find something I really want to do…..

  6. Jerry

    I just started my first desk job is one of the most sedentary part of the day and why in the god’s name would sit there for nearly 8 years of your life?? I need to find a job that doesn’t involve sedentary monotone cubicle setting.

  7. Anne

    are you kidding me? i feel like that every single day of my life. i even work for a charity so that is supposed to be “fulfilling” but a bureaucracy is a bureaucracy no matter what the “cause” is…these meetings, hierarchies, processes, are driving me mad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. CareerORama

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you’re saying. Not many (or none I can think of) companies pay just based on productivity, because it is hard to measure. You have to go with what makes you happy. If money isn’t the issue, then surely do what you think will be fun and exciting to wake up to every day. Good luck!

  9. Ros

    Hi Justin,
    You’ve been and now doing pretty much what I am working on achieving now.
    I work in an office – my husbands business actually – and I hate it with a passion. My passion is Australia and it’s native fauna. So, I am setting up a website now – a work in progress – that will help me achieve my goal. My goal is to photograph all Australian fauna in my lifetime and place it on my website. There is no other website like it.
    I am working on ways to fund my goal and I’d say another 4 months and I’m outta there!

  10. santa

    So, you guys are right..working in a cubicle/office sucks. I agree, but then why do you do it in the first place. The web is already littered with these types of blogs (life savings for the owner) but I always hear/see the same things: i hate my job, i’m not into money, or the rat race, but yet here I am a great person which does not want to “waste” his/her life in an office.

    I actually sympathize and agree with all of this (if not, I would not be at this website) BUT.. all this lacks personal accountability. Yes, people in the developing world are screwed because they have jobs they cannot avoid but try to get whatever job there is…oh wait…that is the “developed” world of today. Ok.. so lets rephrase, you work jobs you hate because you hat having jobs? no, of course not!! the difference is you want the IDEAL job, where working doesn’t seem like work because you love it so much. Hey, I understand how shitty it is working 40-50 hour weeks in any office, but this type pf blog/discussion angers me a bit because it pretends to imply that the system is at fault of making you have these jobs.

    Nobody pushed you (at gun point, or starvation point (as in many “developing” countries) to take on the jobs you hate. My point is that most of my friends are struggling/poor artists whilst I am not, and I don’t want my life to pass by as fast as it does in a cubicle environment, YET, I can choose to me a bar man and make shit wages and try to pursue my “passion” as many of my friends do. While TV’s and consumer electronics aren’t my thing, traveling is, and I love the experiences I have had going places that my friends couldn’t afford.

    In the end, I agree with the spirit, but lets all be clear that having a desk job is not forced on us at gun point (no matter how many kids, etc. ). SO i would suggest finding your passions in the mean time , as most people do, and if you find it then jump in the pool. Then its not about your desk job, its about your cowardice to actually do what you “think” you want to do.

    1. Krystal

      @Santa: I can see where you are coming from, BUT, I can see if you were specifically talking to those who hate office jobs and KEPT getting office jobs as compared to those (like me) who never worked an office job before. This is my first office job and I didn’t even know it was like this at all. I don’t want to go back and you are right. No one put a gun to our heads, forcing us to stay or choose this so if you hate it so much, it’s time to leave. I am taking my things and leaving this coming summer. I had enough of the office life. Sitting in a cubible in the silence for eight hours next to my supervisor who is so inconsiderate. I had to blast the music up and that is the hightlight of my job. I cannot live like this and I won’t!

  11. Jenny

    Yes, no matter what job their is problems, but loving what you do makes a freaking difference. I would play the games for loving my job, but if you hate it why!!!Just saying. I love this blog. It’s awesome. I came from a 3 world country and it’s amazing that opportunities in the USA, but one thing I remember, no matter if poor or rich, do what makes you happy.

  12. Chloe

    I just picked up and left my horrid office job about two hours ago.
    The cruelty, aribitrariness,and dehumanization one encounters in these places of supposed work is mind-blowing. I will never, ever take an office job again.
    The daily condescension, the constant undermining, awful cliqueshness and, frankly, tryranical structure will wear you down until there is virtually nothing left of you. I feel as though there needs to be some sort of therapeutic rehab centre for former office workers. The position you have within the hierarchy matters little, it is all essentially the same.

      1. Chloe

        Thank you so much, Jenny! That is so incredibly sweet of you. However, I am not brave at all. I simply lost all capacity to tolerate it. If anything, I am very weak. To add, I have no dependants, few possessions, so I have not risked a whole lot. My heart is with all of those who do not have that freedom of choice.

        1. Jenny

          Good luck. :) It’s true. I have a dependent. I have a son and a spouse. Anything I do impacts them. However, sometimes life is short. I have to make a decision soon.

    1. Krystal

      Congrats to you Chloe! Enough is enough.I got so sick yesterday because the office was so quite, as I saw my supervisor ( who sits in the cube next to me) eating all this candy and looking at the screen, getting fatter and fatter. Everyone was doing it! It drove me crazy ao I popped some music on. It’s as though they are being brainwashed while looking at that horrid screen! The worse part is, my supervisor suprisingly gave us an EXTRA COMPUTER MONITOR! I don’t use it. She gives us stuff without asking us about it. I hate how everyone wants to be in control here. I am sick of it. 8 more months until freedom for me! I am counting down.

    2. Jennifer

      It is not only office jobs. I just quit my retail job for the exact same reasons you stated in your post about the office job. They worked me almost full time but not enough to give me benifits. (2 and a half years) Sad, sad, sad…

  13. Steve

    Most, not all office jobs are ridiculous because they actually pay you to do nothing.

    Drawing diagrams, filling in data….lol.

    I honestly feel bad for people who work in Accounting (possibly the most horrid and mind numbing office job)

    1. Krystal

      I got a raise for no reason, lol :p and for pretending to work as I type like this “whehuiwhewuiewiuetwaiewtegwaheawhu”. Anyways, That’s the point, we are doing nothing and getting paid for it. What’s the point of getting into debt with a college degree if you are not going to utilize it? That’s depressing. I agree, accounting is murder.

  14. Diane

    I was an accountant for 11 years before going back to nursing school. I am glad most days to be free of the desk life, but there are times when I look back fondly on being bored. Now I’m looking at coming out of school in nursing in a down time in the economy when a lot of hospitals are hesitant to take on new grads and spend the money to train them. So, yes, office jobs suck, especially accounting jobs, but in this economy, sit tight until you find something else. Don’t trade office job stress for unemployment/financial stress.

  15. yolande hart

    I totally understand where you are coming from being involved in the corporate world for 20 yrs i opped out and slowly retrained. I now do the thing i love the most. Please check out my web http://www.yolandehart.com There is life after the corproate world you just have too have the courage to step of the corporate wheel into out of control unplug and find you. This rebirth can be intense however the rewards emmence because at the end awating is ones true self unplugged. Join the revolution be fearless and overcome the conditioning of the mind and follow your heart. Blessings

  16. Matt

    I can relate to this post 100%. I have been working an office job since graduating college about 10 years ago. I am going on 31 years old now. It’s not that I hate the office life. I truly enjoy the type of analytical work that I am involved in with software and engineering, but the office life is truly depressing for a free spirit like myself. Getting paid for the amount of time that I am in the office per week (40 hour week typically) is depressing. I can relate to putting in 5 good hours one week, and crushing it another week with 40+ hours of productivity.

    I suppose in order to have nice things and support the ones we love, we need to sacrifice ourselves and our happiness at times. I am a miserable SOB sometimes because I have trouble sleeping at night. Even with a steady paycheck, we all have financial strain — wives and kids suck the bank account dry. I’m not really sure whether they understand the emotional toll that a bread winner takes on. We’re exhausted ladies, but you just don’t seem to get it. But, anyhow. What’s the use of complaining anymore? I vented a little bit. The key in my opinion is to take time off once in awhile and find little things along the way to make your life worth it. Don’t waste your one and only life living someone else’s dream for you. Don’t stay in a job because you think it’s something your parents what you to do, or your afraid of what others will think of you if you up and quit.

    Bottom line: Do what your heart tells you to do.

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  18. Mike

    Agree 100% in everything you say.

    I work in an office: The way some people get stressed over little things is completely absurd – they’ll be dead before they are 50. Very sad people indeed.

  19. Tacha

    I agree with you 100 percent! Im actually at my desk Job right now thinking of how to excape lol. I have always worked in Hotels, I did front desk, back office, sales, managing and I loved everything about it, my schedule was when ever i was need and I worked 60 or more hours a day, everyday was something new i walked all over the hotel working on different parts of it and spent minimal time at a computer and the pay wasnt bad either. the point is I loved it and that is what makes it more ejoyable. I have two lil girls and they wanted mommy to have more time and I felt horrible everytime i missed an event with them so i decided to let go of the hotel business another reason was that my boss at the last hotel was total jerk so I left. I interview with a tour operating company for European tours and I though OMG how cool and awesome! Wrong! I should have really looked into it much more and its all my fault for not researching the kind of work I would be doing. I spend 9 hoursa day at my desk with four other woman doing the same, no one even talks to each other! Im pulling my hair out, basically wealthy people call for me to make their vacation perfect, and I do it all from my desk, this couldnt be more cruel. again for those of you taking this personal and saying that no one is holding a gun to my head, remember this is just our opinions of daily bs no one is judging you for doing it, good for you! I hope you find what you are looking for !!!

  20. dingo

    i do nothing all day, answer a few calls surf the web gather statistical data. DULL AS HELL! get paid well for doing nothing! but i always say reach for your dreams however far off they may seem. it keeps me alive knowing this is just a stepping stone to a brighter future. I know it is hard to motivate yourself in such a dull environment.

  21. mosss

    Yup! I like the bit about how you look at your supervisors and don’t envy them at all. I was thinking that just the other day. (Ironically I live in Australia…)

    We go through 4+ years of university courses that we never use, so that we are allowed to work jobs that don’t even keep us busy. If I could stack boxes or dig ditches for the same money I’d do it, as long as I didn’t have to deal with any more miserable !@#$! word/excel stuff.

    1. Mich

      I learned that city bus and subway drivers in Chicago earn about 60k, which is far more than what I earned at my last job at a non-profit foundation. Makes me wonder about the value of my Master’s degree, but at least they aren’t sitting behind a desk.

      I am now looking for meaningful non-100% desk work, and have the possibility of working at a chocolate company warehouse for $10/hr for the holidays. Last week I had the chance to work the line and observe the data entry clerk. I have been offered both. All the people I talked to said “this is a paycheck and just for the holidays”. The clerk looked bored sitting all day behind the computer and complained of a backache, and while the box packers are active, they are also on their feet for 8 hrs/day (I was tired after just 2 hours). I heard my last non-profit consultancy may want me back, and while it’s desk work, they pay $20/hr. Physical work is hard and can be monotonous, and I give credit to those who can handle it. I don’t think I could all day, but I still hope I can find a happy medium.

  22. Nancy

    Hi everybody. I also have a 9 to 6 office job. It’s an income tax and accounting office and I hate it. But the saddest thing for me is that I’m majoring in Accounting and with this job I’ve realized that this career is not for me. I can’t imagine myself working not even one more year. I feel really bad because I’ve already paid my college tuition for this and I feel that will be money thrown away. But what I am sure of is that I don’t like this type of job. I want something where I can use my creativity, where I can give ideas and have responsibilities as well. Right now, I’m here at work, alone, because my boss, who is also the owner of this office is sitting and relaxing at home while I’m here wasting my time because honestly there’s not much to be done here other than reconciling bank statements which I’m sick of it. But like everybody else I’m affraid of quitting because I need the money and what if I can’t find another job, something thats not an office job or at least a job that I really like. And also I’ll have to change my major something for which I feel very frustrated about. I feel that I have failed already and I’m only 23 years old.

    1. JerseySteve

      Nancy, I would finish up your degree and get a little more experience in Accounting and try to get into a company that has a product or service you believe in and try transferring to a different department after you pay your dues. Changing your major to something stupid like English or any liberal arts for that matter will severely limit your employment opportunities in this economy (assuming you’re in the US that is..)

      Honestly, if you want to be creative and be on your feet I would look into being a Chef or a Cook or whatever…its hard work but probably better than working construction.

      1. PHXCP

        Hi Nancy, I like Jersey Steve’s advice, but these are my 55 year old thoughts. If I were 23 and had it to do all over again I’d find a career with travel, like a hotel inspector or travel photographer or even teaching English in a foreign country. You’re 23…free to do whatever you’d like! Make the leap now, otherwise you’ll never get to see what you might have been. Or if you want to stay in accounting, there are plenty of accounting jobs around the world. I’m in tech support; it’s abysmal, but I worked in Bermuda for 7 years which was awesome. It was the same sort of job, but walking to a customer in the sunshine with a harborview made me forget the tedium. And the friends I made there are lifelong. Good luck to you…

        1. Jenny

          You are so young. I agree with the last comment. Do something with travel. Sweetheart explore the world. You have the world ahead of you. Maybe work on a cruise ship, they pay for everything. You see the world. Maybe flight attendant ect. I know this company call backroads. Look into them. Office jobs are boring, but as responsibilities and children come, it’s true. Gets harder. Good luck!!:)

  23. Roxanne

    I have always known that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about office jobs, and just like a couple of you in here, this is my first—and going to be my absolute LAST—office job ever. Previously I worked in customer service—hated that too—but nothing compares to the hatred I have for this current robot job I have. Yes, the money is GREAT, and I can afford to do things I only dreamt of doing, and I live in a fab apartment, my cats eat only the best gourmet cat food, and I can afford to eat out at expensive restaurants almost every night without breaking my budget—which I don’t even have! Ok, now for the reality: I am depressed, I have no social life, I quit buying stuff for my apartment after furnishing it with the basics (bed, living room set, TV, kitchen appliances) because it didn’t feel like home to me, I live alone with 2 cats who I think are just as depressed as I am, I hate the country that I live in (which will remain undisclosed for now), I hate my family and don’t get along with them, I am slowly developing a drinking problem, my back and knees hurt from sitting on that freakin’ office chair all day so I have to keep getting up every hour or so and walk around like a moron (sometimes I take a walk outside, and each time I’m out of that hellish building I feel like just running away), all I do all day is surf the web looking for ideas on what career or job to pursue next, and finally, I am just plain old miserable and lonely. This job has taken a toll on me. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a stressful job by any means, but I am a restless person by nature and cannot stand sitting doing nothing all day, especially glued to a chair and facing a computer monitor. I get so agitated I feel like breaking something! I can’t afford to leave right now because I already made enough sacrifices to be here and make money to get me out of the financial rut I was in, but now that I am out I can’t help but think about what to do next. NO MORE OFFICE JOBS FOR ME! Outdoorsy, nature type work, or even science lab work is fine, but as people say, you learn from your mistakes and boy did I learn a good lesson!

  24. Grey-dinah

    I think it’s safe to say that there’s a whole community of people out there who have taken office jobs because they don’t feel like there is an alternative. I fell into mine because my family couldn’t understand the difference between creative and technical writing. If you’re someone who needs the sun, loves interacting with people and needs the stimulation of new places to feel alive, the Office is not a place for you. It’s a soul killer.


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