Office Small Talk: An Illustrated Typology

"I'm not sure I like California," my mom said the last time she was out here to visit me. "You can't order coffee here without them asking you how your day is going." She's a New Yorker. She insisted that her barista didn't really care how she's doing, and that this polite inquiry was just wasting her time.

What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

The first thing that happens is someone tells you.

The Burrower, Part II

With your sleeping bag, travel-sized pillow and airplane blankets, you now have a bedroom that can be assembled in less than five minutes and stored away in your bottom desk drawer.

Solutions to Everyday Problems at the Office: The Forbidden Workplace Crush

You have a crush on a person you work with—who is not single.

Workin’ 9 to 5 (What a Way to Make a Living)

I have always worked a 40-hour workweek, the sort of traditional 9-to-5, eight hours a day situation that you envision when you think of having a job as a little kid: an ineffectual copy machine in the corner whirring out endless documents, a burbling water cooler that serves as the center for awkward conversation, the communal fridge that gapes with brought-from-home lunches and stray beers. I go to work every day, I sit down at a desk, push a mouse around for a little bit, eat a sad desk salad, and return to my home. This is the glory, this is the life of a modern employee, and for some, the itinerant, the lost the wandering—this is the dream.

I have a friend who has always glamorized the office job, talking to me about how she wished she could just work a “normal” job, like everyone else. At the time, she lived with her boyfriend on a farm outside Boston, doing whatever needed to be done—tending the farm stand, getting a fledgling CSA program off the ground, raising honeybees and harvesting her own honey, all the while enjoying free health care from Massachusetts. While the rest of us withered under the hum of fluorescent lights trying to figure out how to make a pivot table in Excel, she was doing the kind of work that is the dream of the modern office employee — working outside, answering to no one, turning freckled and strong under a summer sun. The work she did was precisely the kind of work that so many earnest office workers turned to after they were worn down by the rat race, leaving New York and starting organic goat cheese companies in Hudson.

Company Culture

It's as if all the founders met up at a conference or at a Meetup and decided how they should create a fun company culture. We had a screen so that our developers in South America could see us and so we could see them, and that was cool, but in my experience, the mixing of the seats never really did anything except interfere with our workflow.