I Don’t Hate Working; I Just Hate The Office!

I have been a full-time tutor for about three months and this is the “test season”. It’s such a busy period for me that I realise I could not free up any weekday evenings or weekend mornings/afternoons to accompany the Mrs.

Simply put, I do find it especially hard/difficult to reject anxious parents’ requests to add lessons during exam periods.

However, other than the fact that I would like to spend more time with my wife, I definitely don’t mind putting in more hours at work. Which is a far cry from my employment days.

excited humor suits going in suitcases

I have finally realised that I don’t dislike working; Heck, I might even enjoy it!

It’s just the (typical) office culture that I cannot stand.

What’s Wrong With The Office?

Mandatory hours and days

It does not matter how quickly or efficiently you complete your tasks. Unless it’s a public holiday, you’re sick or on leave, you HAVE to be in the office from 9am to 6pm  on weekdays. 5 days a week.

That’s just too long for me. I tend to work in quick bursts of half an hour to an hour and to expect that kind of productivity over 8 hours is not realistic.

Thoka Maer illustration nature clock pencil

At the same time, I doubt many employers would be favourable if I were to ask for a shorter work day or a shorter work week in exchange for a lower pay. That kind of requests only exists for new mothers or folks approaching retirement. Granting that to a 30-year-old (who is supposed to be climbing furiously up the career ladder!) would be sending the wrong signal to all staff!

Requisite social interaction with bosses and subordinates

Maybe I have been blessed with benign work environments. Otherwise, there’s really little to explain how I always end up with so much free time on my hands in office. Well, to illustrate the point, this blog was born out of boredom in the cubicle.

I am efficient and productive but I doubt I am super at that. I reckon there are many employees out there with the same dilemma as me. But more often than not, the free time is channelled towards water cooler talk, chats with colleagues or worse, long-drawn meetings.

I am slightly reclusive, maybe even bordering on anti-social at work. During the last posting in my first organisation, I was simply not interested in the conversation topics of my co-workers. Barring a few lunches where I treated my subordinates, most of my lunch time was spent reading books at the Times bookstore.

An issue with superiors might also be present. In a corporate setting, we have to “obey” our reporting officers before we even know them, let alone respect them. I always cannot believe that even as an adult, I still have to “submit before the person has earned my respect”.

editingandlayout  jim carrey bow the truman show

Autonomy over work

Not all work in an office is productive. In fact, sadly, it rarely is. Sometimes, even the supervisor knows it when she assigns me something her boss told her to do.

We knew the proposal would not go anywhere. But it seems the value of the back-breaking work was to get everyone to concur that this was not a worthwhile proposal to pursue. #corporatelogic

The thought of asking for more work to be done in a cubicle makes my stomach churn.

However, as a tutor, if I know a certain piece of work will not add value to a student’s learning, I shelve it immediately. There’s no one I really have to justify to. A simple, layman explanation to the parents/student would do.

You know you’re right when the student comes back with better results or if his learning attitude improves dramatically.

The autonomy you have over your own work is really quite exhilarating to me. One doesn’t waste time and effort pursuing tasks just to please the boss. If I were not a tutor, I probably might try my hand as a self-employed at another field. A financial advisor or a hawker, who knows?

I might voluntarily go back to an office if these 3 factors are addressed. Otherwise, I hope I won’t have to step in as an employee ever again.


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22 thoughts on “I Don’t Hate Working; I Just Hate The Office!

  1. temperament

    i totally can empathise with you, though my work is technical.
    So i choose field service to escape the office as much as possible.
    i was always thinking of striking out on my own even as a hawker or taxi driver.
    Indeed i had been a part time and full time taxi driver for shot part of my working life.
    i struggle in my working life until i learn how to invest at the age of 40 and stop working for people at the age of 53.
    From then on i work for my family only.
    i only have to please myself and the people i like to be around.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi temperament,

      Thanks for the sharing! If I ever decide to become an Uber driver or taxi driver next time, I know who to look for advice.

      I think we have a similar temperament, no pun intended! LOL

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi TFS,

      Thanks for your kind words. I am tracking my income. Probably will update in another few months’ time!

  2. LP

    Haha, looks like you’re addicted to the autonomy that being a free lance tutor brings 🙂 That’s why I told you I might have a huge time adjusting back to corporate life when I reach FF. Don’t worry about the lack of time together with the Mrs. It’ll be over in a week or two.

    We’re like farmers. There’s harvest and hardwork, then there’s rest. Seasonal work haha

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi LP,

      You really want to switch to corporate life after FI? That’s super contrarian!

      It’s already over next week. I could probably have a free day or two soon. I am still quite slack, not really ramping up. Haha.

  3. Sillyinvestor

    Hmm… 15 HWW,

    From another angle, water cooler talk will be a luxury in my office. Everyone huff and puff everyday… At least those in my room.

    I am one of the least hard-working and I start work at 6.30 am and bring work home At night.

    It’s already a luxury to mark.

    Most of the work are productive or “valuable” directly or indirectly. Once in a while, there is social networking to do, so I make sure I tap on the network to make it worth. But there is another network that I rather avoid because “rich people” do not have the frequency I had

    I enjoy talking cork once in a while. Be careful what u wished for LOL

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Sillyinvestor,

      I guess maybe there’s a big difference in JC vs Primary School. But I really can’t imagine 10 hours of time being spent on “valuable” work directly or indirectly. Could there be overkill somewhere?

      Generally, I can live without adult interaction in the workplace. So this “minus” to most people is actually a “plus” for me.

  4. Jerry

    Hi 15HWW,

    Most of my (short) corporate life was spent ACTING BUSY.

    Totally agree with this post.

    Screw office life!

    Good luck on your free-lancing journey!

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Jerry,

      I did look very busy in office when I was brainstorming ideas for the blog. No need to act. That’s too tiring. =p

      Thanks and all the best in your investment journey!

  5. B

    Hi 15hww

    I guess you hit the nail for most people out there.

    Like you, i hate the fixed 5 days a week 9 to 6 showtime regardless of rain or shine, or whether the days you feel you are productive or unproductive.

    I guess i dont hate the work specifically but to have such a rigid way of doing it makes me sick. And oh yeah, i think ill give a shot to try to ask them to grant me part time when I have reached fi. Who knows, i might just succeed in doing that.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi B,

      I think it would be a good move to ask for part-time work when one has already reached FI. Even if they do not oblige, I am sure there are other companies out there who would want your talents. And after FI, there is really no pressure! Just keep looking.

  6. desmond

    I reckon the trend now is towards freelancing where people can enjoy multiple assignments to suit their time, interests and income, of course. this phenomenon is probably more popular in Europe, Australia but I do see the wave of influence coming in here as well.

    On the other hand, working on the corporate does offer the illusion of stability, holding on a job and pay increase and other benefits. IMO, all these can be adjusted with your own lifestyle. If you value freedom and time more, perhaps freelancing would be a better option.

    all the best

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi desmond,

      Thanks for dropping by!

      You are right. With unions still quite strong, especially in the public sector, a traditional job does offer more stability.

      But rather than stable and unhappy, I am more contented with a little instability and having autonomy in what I do.

  7. Kevin

    It is so difficult to get the perfect brew. Maybe the environment is great but the work sucks. Maybe the boss is awesome but the company culture is full of negativity. Maybe I love the industry but there is no work-life balance.

    It’s not that I dislike the idea of work. It is usually something else.

    If only.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Kevin,

      There are days when I do lament the fact that “I am busy while others are free”. Guess it’s human to “think the grass is always greener on the other side”. We just need a little more perspective in our day to day lives to be a bit more contented.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Corporate Gifts Asia,

      Interesting insight! Humans have shown themselves to be notoriously lazy over the centuries. Now it’s just the “capitalistic rich” who can legally be “lazy”.

  8. YC Chew

    I am thinking of changing my job scope and more work outside the office. I hope one day I am free from depending my salary and choose to work what I wanted. Money is still important in Singapore as everything is expensive here (which people cannot explain why) so I am ready planning of leaving Singapore during retirement. At the moment, I am applying part-time study next year (I am a PMET @ 45). I still have 3-room HDB loan for 20 years. Hope I am not retrench this year as times are ready bad outside. Looking positively, I have clear some bad debt and should survive if one of us (wife and me) still has job. My only wish this year is that my younger boss decided to stop expecting me to be a mind reader and start recalling his previous words when it is against his liking. (for those young people out there, please manage your older staffs with respect. You will get old one day at 40~50+ and a younger boss may come onboard!)