As all of you assuredly know—primarily because the only people who read this Internet monstrosity are my co-workers, who are all too aware of my ability to pick my nose publicly and without shame—I work in an open office, meaning that there is nothing separating me from my fellow employees in my workspace. No walls. No cubicles. Nothing to obscure my co-workers view when I decided to do something crazy, like pluck stray eyebrow hairs out of my face using nothing but my own hands or Google “GIFs of fat kids falling from tree branches,” and laugh hysterically at these young people's plight before automatically drop a peg or seven in the esteem with which I am held in their eyes.
There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, nowhere to sit in peace and exhale and just be yourself and goof off on company time free from judgment and observation like the goddamn founding fathers intended. The scary part about it is that open offices are, according to Forbes, becoming the new norm. This is especially frightening if you are anything like me, and therefore will never be competent enough to earn a private office space of your own, at least not through means such as “hard work” or “merit.” It looks like society is pushing us into an open office corner. It looks like sooner or later we will be stuck.
The good news for me is that I have had some 16 months of preparation for a lifetime of screen watching and communal farting. The good news for you is that I have decided to share my knowledge and acumen about how to survive in such a unconstitutional office configuration on the Internet…
How To Survive In An Open Office
1) Beware Of Your Personal Space: Because you don’t have any. Literally, none. While sitting at my desk, if I rotate my arms so that my elbows are pointing out, they will more than likely knock the perpetual red bull that my fellow employee Sean has sitting at his workstation off of the table and spill it all over his crotch, forcing me to AIM message the entire company and inform them that Sean just urinated all over his trousers and that they should all come and stare at the genital region of his pants while pointing and LOL’ing as loudly as possible. And I don’t want to do that. Because I kinda like Sean. And apparently no one at my “tech” company uses AIM anymore. Therefore I keep my elbows in and have way less fun than I should have. Way to go Sean, you over energized son of a bitch.
2) Keep Your Hands Where Everyone Can See Them: Even at a cubicle with low walls you have the freedom to move your hands just about anywhere you please without the rest of the workforce knowing what you are touching or why. This means that you can pick, scratch or rub anything below your mid-section with impunity. And as someone who cannot do these things at work, let me tell you…this is a total game-changer.
The thing about an open-office is that there are no walls, meaning that people can tell where your hands are at all times. So if you go to pick, scratch, or rub your say, quad, people are going to think that you may be doing something sexually nefarious to yourself. And I believe that doing sexually nefarious things to yourself at work has been illegal ever since the bowling green massacre. Thanks a lot refugees. Way to ruin everything for everyone.
3) Don't Show Your Barefeet: It is generally accepted in American culture that showing up to work without any shoes on is both unprofessional and more than likely gross AF. What isn’t as accepted as it should be however is the idea that removing your shoes while at work, at least if you are not rocking socks underneath them, is equally unprofessional and gross AF. I mean I don’t want to see your sausage toes at work, just like you don’t want to see the Mountain Dew can colored nail I have on my right big toe that my foot doctor once said “probably wouldn’t kill me.” And good work science. Cause, by the time you are reading this, I probably ain’t dead.
*This is not directed to anyone specific in my office, as I am far to self-absored to notice if anyone actually is or isn't wearing their shoes during worktime.
4) Don’t Try To Personalize Your Workspace: Here are the things I have room for on the surface area of the communal desk that makes up my work station: a keyboard, a wireless mouse, a Ronald McDonald beer coozie, several unrelated McDonald’s receits stacked on top of each other that I am saving in case I get audited, a 9 month old tube of chapstick, and a stray eyebrow hair I plucked right out of my face after seeing it in the bathroom mirror and becoming enraged that none of my coworkers told me about it. Why hasn’t that eyebrow hair blow away? I don’t know. God maybe. Or the fact that I have placed a glass case around it to remind all of the other employees what I am capable of. Could go either way on that one.
What was not mentioned in the list above? Pictures of my family. A dandelion I plucked out of the sidewalk and raised on my own because buying flowers in a store is for rich people. The bowling trophy I literally sacrificed my blood, sweat and sobriety for a mere 2 years ago. Anything and everything that could ever matter to me. In an open office your workspace cannot be personalized. You just don’t have room. So be honest with your kids and tell them that you just don’t love them that much anymore when they ask why the picture of them that you used to so prominently display in your cubicle is now sitting inside that cuboard in the office kitchen where you put that banana 5 months ago and then never opened again cause fruit tastes like what I imagine a T-Rex’s penis tastes like, aka not as bad as a vegetable, but not exactly good either.
5) Just Do You: Full disclosure: I have never worked in a cubicle before, so much of my comparative abilities are limited in that sense. But, other than the things I mentioned above, I am sure many of the same rules apply whether working inside an artificial box with no roof on it or on a shared table where an outward turn of your eblows will automatically make you a dick. Don’t forget to plug your headphones in. Don’t eat hard-boiled eggs at your desk, no matter how much you need the protein. Minimize your windows quickly when your boss walks by while your watching porn at work. Don’t watch porn at work. Welcome to Trump’s America.
The point is that it shouldn't matter if you are working in a cube or on shared desk. Either way the most basic elements of common human decency and decorum remain unchanged. Respect what other people can see, hear, or insinuate. Act like you aren’t reading non-work related things on the internet, eventhough everyone is aware that your position has nothing to do with “weirdcelebdeaths.com.” When you sneeze, do it on your shirt sleeve, then send your HR rep a $207 dry cleaning bill because snot ain’t that easy to get out of J Crew oxfords yo. Other than that do your thing man. Be a professional when you have to be. At all other times, do whatever the F you want.