I used to work for a management company as an administrative assistant. There were a bunch of us, underlings, who were assigned to different managers (who were in charge of fancy condos and gated communities). I started off as a temp downstairs, but as often was the case, after head honchos figured out I could do more than massive amounts of filing or data entry, I was offered a permanent position.

Sheโ€™s not as daft as she looks!

So for this particular company, I was moved upstairs away from my beloved Cindy who was the oldest out of us foot soldiers, who always looked a bit disheveled but managed to pull off looking more bedhead sexy rather than bedridden sick, who I adored for her wisdom and wit.

Instead, I was placed among my younger cohorts where, for a time, we enjoyed an open office space before plain partitions were erected and cube farm warfare was instigated. But I thrived here because I was a social animal at the hip and happening water hole. But when my egotistical manager wanted both of her toadies to be in line of sight, next to her office, I was put in a corner facing a window. And I hated it. Not too longer after that, I quit.

According to Tony Robbins, there are five different types of working styles: independent, cooperative, proximity, supportive, and big picture. A proximityโ€™s working style is somewhere between independent and cooperative, and I think the rest is self-explanatory. Iโ€™m an in-betweener. I can take up the leadership or follower role with equanimity. Iโ€™m such a homebody that I use work as a social outlet so working too independently is just too much of the same thing for me.

Of course, these days the traditional work environment has been flipped upside down. My friends back in the States love working from home and plan on doing it indefinitely. Itโ€™s hard to know what the future will entail but since our entertainment and lifestyle is primarily tied to technology, I wonโ€™t be surprised if thereโ€™s a rebound, especially for folks like me who need some sort of social collaboration and interaction โ€“ and most importantly, boundaries from work and home.

That desk move taught me the importance of environment. Many would love a window to look out of, but not me. I stared out of it watching the cat across the street. I daydreamed and wished I was somewhere else. I felt cut off from my friends, even though I could have (and did) easily walked over to chat or ask a question. It took an introverted person with a tendency towards melancholy and gave her the space to explore and really stretch out those lonely feelings in overcast Portland, Oregon.

Naturally, I tried to convince my boss not to move me, that I was plenty happy where I was, but Denise wanted the world to see that she was the only manager that had TWO paper-pushers, as opposed to the standard one. Plus, she needed me to track down her other worker bee, Mary, who was almost always hiding among the filing and boxes having a tearful conversation with her boyfriend.

Ah, those were the days, walking around the dark warehouse hissing, โ€œMary! Mary! Where are you? Denise is going to have your head on a spike. I swear!โ€

Right now my biggest struggle with doing mostly my own creative work at home is focusing on just one thing at a time. When Iโ€™m lesson planning, I so badly just want to get it done that I keep my head down and focus. Itโ€™s not an ideal situation as Iโ€™d rather prep at school, but Iโ€™ve had to do both throughout my years teaching. And now I teach online, too.

But ever since I watched Cal Newport share the significance of doing deep work on TEDx, Iโ€™ve been hyper-aware of my propensity towards opening tabs, checking social or email when Iโ€™m, say, writing in my morning journal or even reading something online!

When Iโ€™m editing or writing, Iโ€™d rather do deep work. Iโ€™d rather not skip around in some sort of Tasmanian devil whirlwind, but maybe Iโ€™ve convinced myself that this is part of the creative process. Sometimes it is good to get up and take a mental break, after all, sitting all day in front of a glowing monitor is not my idea of a good time.

There was another assistant (for the powerful Claire, who made smaller men and walls shook when she walked), who didnโ€™t sit near the rest of the gang. Only Dave could be hers. He was tall and smart enough.

Dave adored his hermit space where he listened to podcasts, but he welcomed visitors, too. He was newly married and hid his handsomeness behind black-rimed glasses. We suspected (gossiped) he didnโ€™t really need them but because he was so striking, he used them as a distraction. You think Iโ€™m exaggerating but when he took them off to clean them one time, I gasped (hopefully not out loud, Lani, you idiot). Yes, my mouth hung open as I had never seen that kind of chiseled Superman transformation up close ever before, nor since.

Sorry, what were we talking about?

25 replies on “๐Ÿ’ป What’s your work style? โœ’๏ธ

  1. In my former office, everyone wanted the window seats. For them it was a prestige thing. I needed it for the light. Otherwise SAD.
    Teaching must suit your personality and work preferences because you can’t do that job without the social interaction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, am a big fan of light and brightness and growing things around me. But a window doesn’t suit me, if I want to get any work done. ๐Ÿ˜› But it’s nice to have a view and sth to look out on. I remember when I worked at a bookstore in a mall and arrived before sunrise and left after sunset (winter months) — depressing!

      Teaching does suit my class clown, martyr, sanguine personality, but when I’m finished for the day, I’m utterly exhausted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love window seats because I don’t know why it helps me think more clearly when I stare out into the open.
    I’m not even kidding in my old office we had to butter up the boss to get assigned a window seat. There was one particular window seat in our bay that had a pillar right next to it, partitioning it away from the rest of the seats and I kid you not people used to go to just about any extent to get that seat.
    My working style is definitely independent. I’m a control freak and I hate to trust people with any work – so I opt to do everything on my own. ๐Ÿ™ˆ Something that I’m trying to change since I’ve started my own venture.
    Is it still WFH in Thailand? Schools have slowly opened again in India. Skeletal classes and staff.
    Also Dave sounds yummy. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know it’s funny, Thailand never had a WFH unless you are a school teacher. But even that was delayed substantially compared to other countries. And now there are half online and half in person classes depending a lot on on the school though.

      So even though we had lockdown, ppl were still doing to work unless you were one of the unlucky ones who worked at a restaurant or open market or clothing store, etc.

      The tourist sector is on life support…

      I totally get why folks like a window. I think it’s human nature to want to be outside or see it, be near nature, have some sky and sense of time while inside.

      At my current desk setup at home, the glass doors are to my left so I have the choice to look out but it’s not in front of me.

      And I’m not surprised to hear about your old office situation! ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m happiest when left alone to do my own thing, can only focus on one thing at a time, definitely cannot work with music playing, and can fall into bouts of procrastination when my environment isn’t quite optimal. Goodness, it is a miracle I get anything done at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh, heh, heh. I can do instrumental music. I’ve learned long ago that certain kinds of music is too distracting. In other words, I’ll just lean back and listen or dance.

      I remember reading that Stephen King listened to rock while writing so I tried it out, but couldn’t do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re reminding of some ways I like to work that I haven’t done since before the pandemic started. Now that I’ve had my vaccinations, I’ll be able to go back to a coffee shop to write–as soon as they open up.

    I think I lean more on the side of working alone, when I’m writing at least. I like instrumental music in the background, and I like to sit by a window. I’ve had some times when I’ve really liked working with a group. I miss that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, a coffee shop writer. I haven’t done that in ages, another lifetime, really. It can be an inspiring environment, ease dropping on conversations and people watching ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. ๐Ÿ˜€ It was light colored if memory serves, and it was just doing what cats do, getting into bushes and exploring, sometimes not doing much at all… but it served as a focus since the cat provided movement in an otherwise quiet street.


  5. In my first office job, I shared a big office with 2 guys and then a few months later I was transferred to another department and got my own office, even though I was a lowly assistant (I guess it was because that department only had a few people and we had a whole floor to ourselves). Having an office was cool because I could have my music on all the time. That job didn’t require much thinking, so music was ok. As I often had to to go other departments for papers and things, I loved chatting with everybody. It was the best part of the job, hehe.
    Then when that company sent me to Suzhou, I was in an open office with around 15 other people. I couldn’t stand the phones ringing all day… so annoying.

    Now I’ve been working from home for ages and I love it. Also no window for me, my desk faces the wall. And because I’m translating all day and that’s hard brain work, no music most of time as it distracts me… booooh. When I need some chatting or gossiping, I head to the company’s messaging app. I’m a big procrastinator too… but I always manage to finish everything on time, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yeah, you reminded me of the time I did have an office and I loved listening to my own tunes. Then a volunteer was moved in with me so we had to share. Booooo. ๐Ÿ˜›

      Yeah, I’m telling you, instrumentals. It’s nice to have some background noise that isn’t the fan. Hahahahaha.

      I don’t mind working from home (hello!) but it’s hard for me to know when work starts and ends sometimes…it feels like a long bleed. (What an image!) Thanks, Marta.


  6. You won’t be surprised to know that I’m an independent worker. Working in an open floor plan situation at my first job after school was tough, because I’m easily distracted. Though the next place–total cube farm–wasn’t right either. Might have been the manager who was constantly sneaking up behind me and peeking over my shoulder to make sure I was working on junk mail and not my novel. What do you think? My novel, of course. I love working for myself. I can say no to a writing job if I just can’t fit it into my schedule, though I hardly ever say no. And I can’t peek over my own shoulder! Though I would like to slowly transition to less writing for organizations and more creative writing for me, but I like to eat, so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rebecca. The image of you working on your book with a micromanaging boss is a funny one. Well, to me, maybe not to you at the time! ๐Ÿ˜› Yeah, I hear you about being easily distracted. I want to say I have the same problem but I think it goes hand in hand with needing to get up frequently. I really don’t like sitting for long periods of time, so I’m TONS of fun on long road trips and flights!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So funny about Dave colleague. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Ok, I’m ok independent but I don’t mind collaboration and buzz of some other workers around me. However I have 1 condition with other workers around me: I need to have the cubicle wall around me high enough that I don’t really see them. Seeing them, distracts me. I can’t concentrate.

    For different employers, I’ve had desk face window. That did nothing for me. I actually don’t “see” the weather. For some people, natural light is a huge deal. For me, as long as the office light isn’t too blue-bright, that’s just fine.

    I do find some water cooler conversation, very useful. So working from home, requires effort to reach out to colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Dave. I wonder how he’s doing. Never kept in touch with him, but I did with some of the others in that office.

      I can focus pretty well in distracting situations like talking, background noise, etc, but I suppose, like everything, it does depend on the circumstances.

      And like you, I miss the collaboration and comradery of being around other people. Thanks, Jean!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Finally, another person that doesn’t like to sit by the window in the office. Like you I do not want to sit next to the window as my mind does wander…and also because my eyes have a sensitivity to light. Much rather sit in a dark corner or room with no windows.

    That is an interesting read by Tony Robbins. My work style is generally independent but that changes depending on the role – and a combination of different work styles is probably needed for different roles and work situations.

    Definitely agree with you the work environment having changed and work from home is something many of us had to get used to last year. For me, I love work from home. I resisted it at first but once I settled in working at home, I found myself more productive at work. Don’t miss the small talk at the office and realised that drained me. Working at home I realised I have more quiet time to think through my work. It’s definitely not for everybody. But hopefully this work from home or hybrid-working arrangements are here to stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mabel. I definitely think working from home is here to stay. It’s a permanent thing for many now and will probably be part of the culture of connectivity vs isolation that tech has brought us.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave sounds very dishy. I loved this writing Lani you are such a talented and funny writer. This boss who put you in the corner sounds a bit awful.

    ‘NOBODY puts baby in a corner’ hehehe

    Liked by 1 person

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