Do I fantasize about living a location independent lifestyle one day? Absolutely. Do I see that in my 5-year future? Hell yes. But let me tell you a secret: right now, I love my cube. And don't feel bad if you do too. Heck, even if it's not love - you can still find a lot to appreciate about the 40+ hour-a-week office job that often gets a bad rap in many blogs and books today.
While a handful of great blogs provide tips and resources for job-hunters to find office jobs, many extol the virtues of quitting to live free and independently; to work wherever you want, whenever you want. More power to those people! I have incredible respect and admiration for people like Carlos, Jamie, Carl, Jun and Sean for their drive, independence and ingenuity as they navigate ups and downs, set their on schedule and seek work that truly fulfills them.
At the same time, I feel compelled to share why I love my cube in the hopes of encouraging those of you who may feel you've settled or are somehow stuck in the "dreaded rat-race" just because you "work for the man" at an office job. I realize that if you're not currently doing work that suits you, where you sit - cube, couch or desk - won't really matter. For help thinking about next steps in your career, check out my post on Creating a Professional Development Strategy - Part 1 and Part 2.
10 Reasons I Love My Cube
- I love working in an open, collaborative environment. I learn so much from my co-workers; in meetings, at lunch, passing in the hallways.
- It's nice to have someone to turn around and share, vent or laugh with. I love spinning around in my black rolling chair, tapping my co-worker on the shoulder and asking for advice, input on a project, or just to take a quick chat break. It keeps me sane! There is something great about the personal, face-to-face connection that I have with co-workers IRL.
- I love structure. The 9-6 schedule really works for me! I wake up, go to the gym, work a full day, go to yoga, have dinner and go home. I'm fulfilled by having a routine, and don't see it as being a prisoner at all.
- I love meeting new people. I live alone, so I'm glad I don't also work alone (right now). I loooove my solitude. Sometimes it scares me how much! I wonder if I'll wind up a cat lady - or in my case, a cupcake lady with empty boxes and stacks of books everywhere. But I digress. The point is - working for a company, especially a large one, is a great way to meet new people, particularly for those of us trying to expand our social circles after college.
- Office supplies galore! Here's another secret about me: as a kid, I loved office supplies more than candy. One of the perks of working in an office: you get free office supplies! Just about whenever you need them! It's beautiful. I love not having to worry about buying post-its, and I'm lucky enough to work for a company where they supply me with a nice laptop and tech support. I experience some serious savings as a result.
- Boring but true: benefits, benefits, benefits. I love that I don't have to figure out how to get health insurance, a 401(k) or a Flexible Spending Account on my own. I fill out a handy little questionnaire online, and POW! All those things are taken care of. Benefits are complicated enough to figure out as an employee - I can't imagine trying to figure out how to set-them up in the first place as my own boss. I'm sure I would eventually figure it out; but I'm perfectly happy spending my brain cells elsewhere for now.
- Get this: I like having a manager! Yes, it's true. I love being a leader too - and I often seek ways to do that - but I learn so much from people with more experience than me. I like having a manager who asks pointed questions about my work, who gives me feedback, and who reflects on my strengths and areas for development. Side note: I've learned as much from bad managers as I have from good ones - all of which will help me be a better worker, leader and manager myself.
- Working for a company is like being in the middle of a business school case study - as it is being written. I love being an observer of how companies operate - all the way from a start-up to a big company like Google. How is the management team structured? What systems are in place across the company? What works? What doesn't? How do leaders motivate their employees? What de-motivates them? How do companies streamline and automate tasks - both product-related and infrastructure-related? I love being able to observe and learn lessons about business and leadership, all without going into $150K of debt!
- When the printer says "PC Load Letter" I don't have to fix it (or take it to a field and kick its ass). Don't get me wrong - I'm a master at fixing copier jams. I get a weird sense of satisfaction from opening every FREAKING door and turning every damn handle until I fix the stupid thing. But in general, I'm thankful that I don't need to purchase or maintain expensive office equipment (or trek to Kinkos and pay them exorbitant amounts of money for things like color copies).
- I will love the location independent lifestyle even more when I get there. Working in a cube - enjoying it AND getting it out of my system - will really help me enjoy and appreciate the location independent lifestyle when I finally take the plunge in a few years. I'll know what I'm leaving behind - the good and the bad - and find ways to re-create the good when I'm out there on my own.
How about you? Anything you love about cube life that I missed?
A final note: may we all find our own freedom in our everyday lives, cube or not.