Sunday, 24 February 2013

Yahoo! calls in home workers: Lord of the Flies!

Aside from maybe six years, I've worked in a home office for my entire adult life.

There are many reasons for this.

I don't play well with others. I prefer canines to humans. And I panic at the sight of an OC Transpo bus.

Generally, I find office occupados to be curious creatures who take on odd characteristics once they leave the safety of their homes. They eat meals out of tins and cardboard. They decorate their cubicles as if they were still in their college dorms with puppy photos, fake plants and odd hanging things like dreamcatchers (as if!) and cheap trinkets from far flung places.

Office workers engage in seriously weird chitchat that would find them shunned in any self-respecting bar. They'll chatter on endlessly about their medical issues, flaky feet and hair habits. And they almost always seem to look forward to medical procedures and dental surgery.

I found the bosses were the funniest. The male bosses were usually drunks who would disappear at lunch hour only to return with their faces plastered with shit-eating grins. That's when you could get them to do anything.

The women bosses I encountered were all food obsessed. They liked to hold meetings while stuffing their cheeks like chipmunks with Tim Horton's or whatever diet food they were on. And while stuffing their faces, they would obsessively eye the next morsel.

Frankly, it all made me kind of sick to my stomach.

Whenever I did work in an office, it was like being incarcerated. Unused to people, I tried to keep my door closed as much as possible and rearranged my office so that my back was to the wall. The reason for this is very simple: I have a very sensitive startle reflex and jump out of my skin when I'm approached from behind which happened every single day in my office.

For the most part, my arrangement at my last job worked out pretty well. My boss moved me to a corner office at the very back so people generally forgot about me. Unfortunately, it was right next to the lunch room from which all manner of disgusting smells and sounds would emanate over a couple of hours each day. Often, I would hear "whoop, whooping" when I was trying to work. And when I did have to venture into the lunch room to grab my own healthy brown bag, I was gobsmacked as to what people were eating, mostly weird soup they brought from home or Lean Cuisine, which to me, is a snack.

The worst part of working in the office is that you don't get anything done. There are too many people trolling the halls in search of warm-bodies with which they can overshare absolutely every aspect of their lives. My next-door neighbor co-worker was the worst offender, a Chatty Cathy who never, ever stopped ruminating about her life as a suburban hockey mom. While seemingly nice on the outside, she was dispicable inside -- disruptive, gossipy, conniving and a non-worker bee -- who often brought her sick kids to work.

When I finally quit that job and quietly returned to freelancing I found I was much more productive as a worker, and much happier.

Which brings me, finally, to my topic of the day. The new CEO of Yahoo has decided to make all her telecommuters come to work -- in an office. I hope she reconsiders for her own sake. She's attempting a very dangerous experiment, bringing people back to the office who have managed to avoid it all these years.

They won't play well with others. They'll bring their dogs and their babies.

It might even turn into Lord of the Flies, and Marissa Mayer may indeed find her head on the top of a stick on bright Friday afternoon.


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