Why I’m No Longer Fit for an Office Environment

I’m already several hours into my workday, and I’m still unshowered, wearing the pajama top that sometimes slips down so low I unintentionally flash my husband. My hair hangs in oily, unattractive clumps, and I sorta smell. I mean, I’d like to shower, but I’m pretty sure that as soon as I disrobe, that package I’m expecting will arrive.  This is what I get for not rolling out of bed until after 8 a.m., after my husband has already walked out the door to catch a bus into work.

So I’m sitting here at my computer, taking care of small tasks while my brain still lumbers into wakefulness. I’m tweeting and making my way through my inbox and feeling a bit resentful of all the conference calls I’ve had to be on over the past few weeks.

Because god forbid anyone tries to communicate with me via anything but email.

I have another conference call in under an hour, and I wonder what they’d think if they saw me now. Dirty. Barefoot. My slightly disgusting coffee mug at my side, litter underfoot like sand.

A little over five years ago, I worked full-time for an academic publisher. Even then, I struggled to fit into the corporate environment. At every performance review, my publisher praised my work but tentatively suggested I spiff up my wardrobe. In business emails and planning meetings, I didn’t even bother trying to maintain a professional tone. I communicated then much as I communicate today. Somewhat irreverently. Luckily, my higher-ups and other co-workers found this charming.

Still, I knew I wasn’t in the right place and, now that I work from home full-time, my skills with verbal and/or in-person human interaction have only devolved.

Earlier this month, I blogged about an infographic that showed a glimpse into the mind of the average freelancer. One of the observations on this infographic amused me. Apparently, the longer someone is a freelancer, the less likely they are to seek out permanent employment.

But of course! I thought to myself. The longer you work from home, the less human you become!

In that vein, here are some of the reasons it might be too horrifying for people to have me working alongside them in an office environment:

  • I can no longer function early in the morning (i.e. I will only glare and/or grunt at you until I have blossomed into my fully charming self).
  • I only own a single outfit that is appropriate for professional situations. Everything else is either too cleavagey or too frumpy or too sad or too completely falling apart. Or too yoga.
  • My footwear consists of either going barefoot or sliding into my (old, smelly) flip-flops.
  • I am much better in writing. People who love meetings and conference calls don’t seem to understand this.
  • I’m not interested in playing along with your office politics.
  • As a sex writer, I often have problems distinguishing the line of appropriateness when it comes to words and topics like “nips,” “sex toys,” “libido,” “play parties,” etc.
  • I cannot be bothered to work overtime on something I don’t feel personally invested in.
  • My personal brand is more important to me than your corporate brand.
  • I talk out loud to my computer and/or my cats throughout the day.
  • I have trouble delegating work, as I don’t trust anybody as much as I trust myself.
  • I burp in front of my husband ALL THE DAMN TIME and, sometimes, I forget where I am and let one rip in public. In fact, I would love to engage in a burping contest with you.
  • I often nestle into a corner and get absorbed in a book while out at parties. I’ve often been tempted to do this at the office, too.
  • I like to reward myself with a game of Spider Solitaire every time I complete a task. This is pretty much unacceptable in an office, where your boss can sneak up on you at any time.
  • I had a white chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookie this morning. Like, before 9 a.m. I think that sort of thing is frowned upon in normal circles.

I could go on. But you get the picture.

If you were to re-assimilate yourself into an office an environment, what would be the toughest switch for you?

Related: How to Maintain the Ability to Interact with Other Human Beings


  1. Thanks for this blog post!!! I’ve been reading your blog since 2010, and this is among my favorites. 🙂 I could’ve written this of myself (if I were a writer, but I’m a talker – literally). While I love to talk, I love talking to MYSELF in my soundbooth… and my pekingese, Ming. And Hubbinator when he gets home from work. Outside of that, text or email is best.

    To answer your question, the toughest re-assimilation would be… SHOES. I wear them only when absolutely necessary, which doesn’t include driving. As silly as it sounds, I don’t think clearly when wearing shoes.

    Number TWO… trying to rectify the clothes & car non-logic. I’d be working to pay for a car to get me work, wearing clothes I bought to only wear at work, to work for people who could care less. That knocked me for a loop years ago when I was doing the 9-5 thing.

    Next on the list would be the set hours. There are just some moments during the week when my brain has had enough of the task at hand. In an office environment I’d want to wander off, recharge for a couple hours (knitting, reading, yoga-ing, dancing, walking in fresh air, etc) then come back refreshed. Having that taken away would take away my usually pleasant demeanor.

    There’s many more on the list (meetings that should be a bulleted email, listening to people complain about Monday, listening to people rejoice about Friday, ANSWERING PHONES, “chipping in” for birthdays, retirements, baby showers, co-workers’ kids’ fundraising, etc)… Dang, I could go on as well.

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