How Do You Survive Working In An Office?

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Dwight Schrute holding a sign displaying all his positive traits.

Advice from Dwight: “Before I do anything, I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ and if the answer is yes, I do not do that thing.”

Last night, we said goodbye to The Office. Like many television finales, the show gave us a glimpse into the futures of our favorite characters. And, also like many television finales, those futures marked dramatic life changes.

People retired, moved, were fired, and even ended up in jail. For a show where everyone pretty much worked in the same room for a decade, it was a sweeping departure from stasis and, more than ever, real office life.

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Yes, watching The Office wasn’t (always) boring, but working in one may seem that way to you. So, to help you deal with it, we asked our bloggers for their office survival tips. (Not their survival tips for life without The Office; the answer to that is to watch Veep.)

Check out what they came up with!

Diane Melville

Stay the heck out of the gossip and politics. It seems like every workplace has its share of “She said whaaa?” and “Did you hear?” conversations. I used to always get involved because, well, I’m a sucker for gossip (after all, who doesn’t want to know that Kim blames Todd for the disaster pitch meeting?). In the end, regardless of how innocent the conversations may seem, it’ll get you into trouble.

Ryan Lane

Always remember that your employer chose you to do your job. Shane touched on this a bit yesterday, but “competent Michael Scott” was always my favorite version of that character. When he was closing, you understood how he could be so unprofessional most of the time but a professional success. He was confident, but never arrogant, about his skills. You should be too.

Anna Marden

At my first co-op, which was also my first time working in a professional office, I learned a lot of useful information from my boss. A tidbit that sticks with me is: “If you don’t know, ask. Never assume.” I don’t know if those were her exact words, but it was something like that. I suppose this advice is most useful when training at a new job, but it can be helpful at any time in a professional career … or life in general. Making assumptions can get people into all kinds of trouble at work and elsewhere.

Aaron Weber

When someone asks you to do something you think is insane, tell them you’d be glad to help, but you’ll need more background information and an estimated schedule. Most of the time, the explanation and timeline make it look a lot more reasonable.

Evelyn Ngugi

If you’re ordering lunch for the company meeting, it helps to remember who’s vegetarian and lactose intolerant. LOL!

Shane McNichol

This may sound strange, but the later you eat lunch, the better your day flows. If you can lengthen the morning, your afternoon feels like a breeze. When you get home, you won’t be itching to eat dinner right away because you had a late lunch. This frees you up to exercise or run errands before dinner fills you up and slows you down. It’s the weirdest little tip, but it’s been true ever since high school. Late lunch is the way to go.

Bridget Casey

Since I’m all about being prepared, nothing has been more useful to me in my professional career than keeping a stash of “emergency” items in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. In addition to an extra pair of shoes and a sweater, I also stock a toothbrush, deodorant, a Tide to-go pen, hair elastics, and a $20 bill. You can’t keep it together at work unless you look put together! And the $20 is for mornings when I forget my lunch on the train.

Mike Restiano

It may sound like a cliché, but I think being the helpful guy around the office actually goes a long way in earning you brownie points with your co-workers. Offering to help move the sandwiches from a working lunch to the kitchen, for example, is a pretty painless task that somebody will definitely be thankful towards you for!

Sasha Laferte

OK, so I DO NOT advise you do this … but it’s a great story so I’ll share. At a previous job, my co-workers’ food kept getting stolen. They tried everything, including labeling it and having the manager put up a notice in the kitchen, but to no avail. One day a particularly fed-up coworker brought in a box of jelly donuts. He labeled them “Please do not eat!!” in big letters. By the end of the day, the whole box had vanished. He then shared with us that he’d refilled the jelly donuts with ketchup. Needless to say, no one’s food was stolen from that point on!

What’s your office survival technique? Share it in the comments.

(Photo: libraryman)

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