On Things I Learnt Working in Offices

It’s been a while since my last post – most remiss of me, I hadn’t realised how quickly the summer had flown by! I’ve spent the last 3 or so months interning at various museums, publishers and libraries in London, and doing something I’ve never done before: a proper 9 to 5 in an office. (I tried doing 9 to 5 study hours at university but it always ended up as a 10 to bedtime with extended lunch and afternoon nap breaks).

You proper workers of the real world probably already know this sort of stuff, but here are a few things I learnt working in a variety of big and small offices.

You can’t swear at the IT systems as much as you can at home.
Generally, I found the office systems much better behaved than my own cranky wifi and temperamental laptop, but when they do start to act up you have to make sure everyone around you condones swearing and kicking before you start. And you can’t kick too hard, it’s not your stuff.

The exception at one place was the scanner, which really did need a sharp thump to fix it.

If internal work emails were paper aeroplanes, crossing the office would be incredibly dangerous. (Pic from origami-resource-centre.com of art project by Dawn Ng.)

If internal work emails were paper aeroplanes, crossing the office would be incredibly dangerous. (Pic from origami-resource-centre.com of art project by Dawn Ng.)

You will replace your blood with tea.
Or coffee, depending on individual tastes. The lovely folk at Biteback Publishing had a 1200 teabag pack in the kitchen, and a massive hot beverage habit. I spent a month there and was amazed we didn’t use up all the supplies in that time.

If you want friends, bring biscuits/cake/scones/sugar.
Find out what varieties of sugary goodness are the most popular and unveil them at the first tea break of the day. Guaranteed to gain you friends and allies, and rumour has it, could even slightly help you get a later job offer if you’re an intern. Good food makes you memorable.

Film soundtracks increase productivity.
During repetitive tasks that require a bit of a boost, I’ve found that listening to various action movie soundtracks really helps in getting you going. Music from Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is particularly good (especially if you imagine that Nick Fury’s going to be incredibly narked if you’ve not finished your deathly important filing).

This is not a the face of a man who is impressed by your accounts keeping. (Pic from marvel-movies.wikia.com)

This is not a the face of a man who is impressed by your accounts keeping. (Pic from marvel-movies.wikia.com)

Beware sports at the office picnic. Especially Rounders.
If you were bad at sports at school and haven’t played since, rest assured your skills have not miraculously improved. Especially if the whole team is playing one-handedly, while balancing a beer bottle in the other. Try not to hit any other members of staff with the ball, particularly if you’re the intern.

Or if you do, remember to bring in cakes and biscuits to make up for it.

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