Being employed comes with a false sense of security, a perceived safety-net.  Here are 7 things I don’t miss about being employed.

1. Early bird misses the traffic

Traffic is the curse of urbanisation and the lack of public transport escalates the problem.  This leaves city dwellers with a choice:  leave home before sunrise OR spend quality time in morning rush-hour traffic.

2. It’s a long, long road

While you can avoid morning traffic by leaving home before sunrise, unfortunately you are not afforded the same luxury in the afternoon.  Sandton home-bound traffic starts from 15:00 and when you exit at the same time as most workers leave the CBD, you will be stuck in afternoon rush-hour traffic.  When there is an accident, load shedding or when it rains, your journey will take even longer.

3. Rigid working hours and feelings of guilt

If you are expected to be at your desk for at least 7 hours a day, you’ll know what I am talking about.  You feel guilty when having to ask for permission to attend to personal business during office hours – when government offices are not open or where certain services are not rendered on weekends, e.g. driver’s license renewals, ID and passport renewals and collections, etc.  Certain companies go as far as making you fill out a leave form for an hour or two that you are out of the office!  Lunchtimes are also often only between certain times and the request for an “early lunch” or a “late lunch” is often frowned upon.

4. Interruptions…. The quickie 

If it is not the telephone, it is someone popping past your desk “to quickly say hi” or to “quickly ask you something”.  We all know that these visits are never short or quick.  

Interruptions are the single most frustrating thing about working in an office.  If you have ever had the honour of transcribing minutes of a meeting, you would know that the interruptions completely throw you off track.  As soon as you are back on track, the next interruption occurs!  One would like to believe that when a friend approaches your desk while you are wearing earphones and vigorously typing away, they would realise that you are not listening to your favourite song while typing the lyrics at the same time.

5. Choice or obligation?

While I am all for charity work, I think that the way companies approach their employees to partake in CSR / CSI needs serious consideration.  

People often have their own charities that they support – whether in a private capacity or as part of a religious organisation.  What companies may not realise is that, by supporting a charity in one’s private capacity, employees may not have spare funds to partake in  a company initiative as well.  No matter how (seemingly) small, it puts additional strain on already cash-strapped staff who are often branded by colleagues as “stingy” when declining to partake in these initiatives.  

Companies also often take the credit and forget to mention that it was the staff who dug into their own pockets to ensure the initiative’s success.  I do realise that there are also companies who go out of their way to thank their staff for making these initiatives a success.

6. The inevitable office politics

Humans are emotional beings with wants, needs and insecurities.  As much as you try to avoid it – if you want to thrive or survive in your career – you cannot sit on the sidelines; you must play the office politics game. 

My best advice is:

  • be emotionally intelligent;
  • keep your head high; and 
  • keep it clean.

7. To (take) leave or not to (take) leave

Fifteen is the norm, twenty is a bonus and twenty-five is unheard of – at least for the general working population.  If you really want a good rest, you need at least two week’s continuous leave days.  You are then free to use the remaining 5 days in the form of long weekends, mini breaks and anything unforeseen that life throws at you.  

Leave is precious, treat it with care!