Sunday, 20 March 2016

10 tips to survive working in an office

I've worked in an office environment for the past 4 years now (wow it's weird to put that in writing), and you don't come that far without knowing how to adapt to your surroundings. The office is a very weird environment to be in. It's much different to retail or hospitality jobs (both of which I have also worked in), and the pace of it isn't for everyone.

I thought I'd put together a post on need to know tips to working in an office, and how you can make it more bearable to work in. After all, for some people you might spend more time there, then you do at home. You need to know how to survive, and make it through the week!

1) Know the drink schedule

I cannot stress to you how important caffeine can be in an office environment. I would love to know how much tea/coffee is consumed in the average week in the office, because it would probably shock you. It's not even always about the caffeine, a nice warm mug of tea/coffee is a great comfort, and even just by offering, you're in the good books. You'll know how important a hot drink can be, when you stand up, say 'does anyone want a drink?' and you get a chorus of relieved moans of joy, which translate to 'Yes I'd really love one, but can't be arsed to make one for the whole team, so I've been waiting for someone else to offer'.

When you get to grips with how the drinks system works in your office, you're onto a winner. You don't want to be caught in 'tea politics' (which I promise you, is a very real thing), and you definitely don't want to be branded as 'the person who never makes a drink', that is not a good position to be in.

2) Have a laugh, and get to know your colleagues

It's really important to get to know the people that you're working with. If you can make really good working relationships, it can make your time in the office 10 times easier. It's good to have a laugh and not take everything seriously. At the end of the day, you're all there for similar reasons, and you're all in the same boat, just trying to make it through the day. You don't have to go on every work function, and make best friends with everyone in the building, but be friendly, take the time to get to know the people you work closely with, and respect them on a personal level. Your relationship with your colleagues can make or break your work environment.

2) Make lunch your happy place 

So unless you're having a super busy day, and lunch doesn't even occur to you, you'll be counting down the clock until 12pm when you get to have a break. The halfway point to your day is very important. For me, I like to take mentally take myself as far away from work-mode as I can. I buy a magazine, read a book, blog posts, etc. The hour can go by so quickly, but I go back to work feeling so relaxed and mentally recharged. It's important to have a break from your desk anyway, but it's good to give your brain a rest! It'll make part 2 of the day feel not as bad.

I don't always make lunch, but I try and make it a really exciting lunch that I look forward to! Even if it's going for that Boots meal deal (the sushi salad...omg), it doesn't have to be healthy, it doesn't have to be unhealthy either. I like to mix it up and keep it exciting, but it always helps when you've got a really good lunch to look forward to!

3) Give yourself 5 minutes at the end of your day

Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you come into work in the morning, look at your emails/to do list, and think 'Fuck sake, i'm not up for this today'. I know myself well enough to know my reaction to things in the morning. That's why I give myself 5 minutes at the end of a work day, I make a list of things I could do the next day, and basically make it as painless as I can for myself to get into work and start on things in a morning. I find it's important to not dive straight into work. Sometimes you've got no choice if you've got strict deadlines, or a scheduled day full of activities, but I think sometimes the worst feeling is knowing you've got to go back to something stressful at work the next day. So it's important to take 5 minutes out to plan for that, and to make life easier for yourself.

4) Make your desk your home away from home
Your desk is your desk, and even though you can't exactly bring your bed into work with you (omg that's too nice to imagine), you can at least personalise it, and make it a happier place to work in. Here's a few ideas to help bring a small smile to your face, and make your day a bit better:
  • Bring comfies (depending on how strict your work is, I used to be able to wear slippers under my desk)
  • Bring a pillow for your chair
  • Have a hot water bottle in your drawer for when it's cold
  • Have snacks in your drawer (not all bad ones though, have a few healthy options in there too, but make sure they're all little treats)
  • Bring pictures of happy things (your family, pets, partners, friends, anything that brings a smile to your face)
  • Have cute little desk accessories. It's always nice to be prepared, but with your own stationary you'll feel super organised and also more at home
  • Be prepared and have desk wipes, sanitiser, etc. There's nothing worse than when you have a dirty desk and nothing to tidy with. I also like to keep spare things, e.g. I have disposable spoons in my desk drawer for when I have my morning porridge pot. It's just being prepared for the things you come across during the day, and stocking up on those things you could do with.
5) Make the most of your evenings

Sometimes you'll have those day when it's horrendously difficult to get through, you'll be constantly clock watching, and won't be in a positive state of mind. It's important to make the most of your evenings and do fun things that will make 5pm seem even better. I try and do something fun on Monday evenings, and make it feel a bit like Friday. For a lot of people, the evenings will be the only time you'll get to see your partners/friends/family, so make sure you make the most of it.

6) Write things down!

Even if it doesn't feel like important information at the time, it might be later on. I try and write down everything that i'll probably forget. It's good to refer back to when you're trying to refresh your mind with a task. It's also very probable that someone will ask you about it later, and you'll be like 'oh! let me just check my notes because I did write it down'. You don't know how helpful that can be sometimes! It also saves you from chasing others for information,

7) It's okay to procrastinate!

Sometimes you need to get your mind away from something that requires a lot of energy and focus. I personally think it's fine to have 5 minutes to yourself, have a walk around, get something to eat/drink, or even check your personal emails, etc. Obviously don't take the piss and sit there on facebook all afternoon, but it's good to give yourself time to chill out if something's making you crazy!

9) Know when to switch off

Sometimes there literally aren't enough hours in the day, and you might physically have to take your work home with you to get something urgent done, but that doesn't mean you have to do that every day. For the most part, work should stay at work. It can be hard to switch off, but if you let work take over you, you can lose yourself in it. That goes for working late too. Yes you should love what you do, and be happy doing it, but you need to learn your limits, and don't exceed them. Even if you could work for 12 hours a day, should you? If you're not harming yourself by doing that (you might be, even if you don't realise it), you could be disappointing others in your life. Learn to switch off, and keep your work and personal life separate. 

10) If you're not happy, do something about it

One of my favourite quotes in life is 'If you don't like where you are, move. You are not a tree'. It's so true! Sometimes we can be so rooted in a routine and the familiar, that we accept being unhappy at work. It doesn't have to be like that! If you find that you're so unhappy, and not doing something that you're comfortable doing, it's not the way it has to be. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to quit your job and find something else, talk to your manager, or speak to another colleague. Your employer might see potential for you to do something else, move departments, etc. You are a human with a million different aspects to your personality. There's lots of things that you can do, and you might not have found what it is that you excel in yet. Keep going, there's lots of different paths that you can take.

Reading this back, it's quite a deep post! I just think that the way you feel at work is so important! I hope that this post helps you in some way! Let me know if there's any other tips that you use to survive in your work environment.

Thank you so much for reading :) 


  1. Fantastic, fantastic tips - office life is a strange and wonderful place!

    1. Aw thank you! It's weird how office life can change you 😂 xx

  2. This is one of my favourite posts of ALL TIME. Loved it, and I agree with every single point!