The Pros and Cons of Working in an Office

That Office Life
That Office Life

One of my friends recently asked me what my thoughts were on “Working from Home” vs Commuting. So, I wrote down a list.

The Pros of Working in an Office

There are definitely a couple pros that I can think about when working from the company office.

  1. The People.
    1. You get to have the random watercooler conversations.
    2. You don’t feel so “alone”
    3. You can easily bounce ideas off of others or weigh in on conversations that you otherwise would not have been involved in.
    4. It’s harder for people to avoid you. (So you can finally get Bill to provision that extra RAM you requested weeks ago)
  2. You have a better sense of the state of the company.
    1. You overhear information about how the company is doing
    2. You can literally see Manager1 and Manager2 rush down the hall to the CEO’s office. Which gives you a clue that something might be up.
  3. You can take part in the office perks (only available to office goers)
    1. Work provided lunch?
    2. On site Gym?
    3. On site Massage?
    4. Work provided chairs and desks

The Cons of Working in an Office

On the other hand there are certainly some flaws too.

  1. The People
    1. They are loud
    2. They don’t know when to leave you alone.
    3. Manager stands behind you pretending not to look directly at you (might as well be parked in a big white van right across the aisle from your desk).
    4. You overhear conversations you don’t want to hear
    5. Gloria complained that it was too cold in the office so now the thermostat is set at a flat 76 degrees during the summer and 82 degrees in the winter.
    6. Ted never washes his hands after using the restroom.
    7. Ted enjoys randomly giving you back massages while telling you some inappropriate joke.
    8. Ted works here.
    9. The restroom is always out of toilet paper.
    10. Ted is your boss.
    11. The restroom is also out of acceptable toilet paper substitutes, like paper towels, because someone decided using a TON OF ENERGY to heat up and blow hot air at your hands was better for the environment.
    12. Amanda plays with the action figures on your desk when she comes over to ask you a question. (BTW you’ve already answered this question three separate times via email, chat, and in a meeting).
    13. MEETINGS -> you are all literally in the same room. Ted is there.
  2. You have a better sense of the state of the company.
    1. Nobody knows what they’re doing. This company is doomed.
  3. You can take part in the office perks (only available to office goers)
    1. Work provided chairs and desks. Why do they even buy them?
    2. There is no work provided lunch, gym, or massage. But they do pay half the monthly fee for your space at the parking structure a couple blocks down the street.
    3. You have to commute to work, which means you might get stuck in traffic.
    4. Your space at the parking structure has a pillar in it.
    5. That couple blocks is a long way to walk.
    6. Your company believes in an “Open Office” environment. That means you work at a long fold out table in an old warehouse. The good news is that there are no cubes so you can see Ted clipping his finger nails. Also, you’re elbows are constantly bumping into Bills elbows who sits immediately to your right. You don’t bump into anyone on the left, because on your left is the wall and you’re just squished against it all day.

I think that sums it up? Feel free to drop your own Pro/Cons in the comments.

John Lasseters Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

I watched a documentary titled “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic” recently. Towards the end of the documentary they interview the Chief Creative Officer of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter. In his interview he talks about the time he spent as a guide on the Jungle Cruise. At one point he mentions his “favorite joke”.

John Lasseters Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

As you go through the cruise the guide tells you about various parts of it. At one point the guide sees a pile of skulls and he hides behind a small child. The guide explains how you are now entering the land of the natives. The natives are very dangerous but can sometimes be friendly.

John Lasseter's Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

They’re doing their famous “I can’t find the bathroom” dance. Everybody laughs, you let them laugh a little bit and you go on… long pause and then you go “that’s why they call them headhunters”.

But what does it mean?

I’m going to be honest. I had no idea what this meant. I mean it’s one of those jokes that you laugh at because everyone around you is laughing but you really don’t know why anyone is laughing and everyone actually feels the same way just looking at eachother in a weird state of laughter.

I researched it. Turns out that a “head” is what they call a “toilet” on a ship. So. Now you know. They are “head hunters” because they are looking for the toilet. You probably deduced the meaning of the joke from the context. However, you may not have known what a toilet on a ship is called. And now you do. And now it makes a bit more sense why the guide on the jungle cruise might call a toilet a “head”. You are on a boat after all.

The Truman Show is about Software Developers

I’m pretty sure that “The Truman Show” is an accurate description of what it’s like to be a software developer. Take the following clip for example starting at 55 seconds in:

“Blocked at every turn!”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought about this line as it relates to the very real *struggle* it is being a software developer.

I mean here is Truman, he knows where he wants to go, Fiji. Getting to Fiji seems like it should be so simple. Really. All you need to do is get down to an Airport, hop on a few planes, maybe take a boat, and you are in Fiji in no time.

It should be so simple.

The reality is that it is not simple. In fact getting to Fiji is quite possibly the most difficult thing he has ever done in his entire life. He runs into issue after issue after issue trying to get to Fiji. He tries to implement solution after solution, and consistently fails. If that doesn’t reflect how I, a software developer, feel *every day* than I don’t know what does.

Here is the thing. Truman is persistent. He keeps going. He get’s creative. And in the end he finally benefits from all his hard work. The problem was *a lot* bigger than he could’ve ever thought. The problem was huge, but Truman solves the problem and he learned a heck of a lot along the way.

So, fellow Software Developers, as you struggle today remember Truman. Remember to be persistent. Remember to be creative. When you run into a blocker, back up, and try a different approach. I believe in you, you can do it.

Discovery Benefits – A Frustrating Experience

What follows is my experience thus far with Discovery Benefits. This post is more of a frustration dump for me than anything else. Discovery Benefits administers the COBRA accounts for my previous employer. My experience with them thus far has been frustrating. Their website is: https://www.discoverybenefits.com/

Discovery Benefits runs very slow and has little knowledge about the internal workings of their organization.

I have contacted Discovery Benefits multiple times. Each time asking them to add a dependent to my COBRA plan. Initially I provided dependent information to them via their own forms. After I contacted my insurance provider I was informed that not only did Discovery Benefits enter my wife’s name incorrectly, but they also did not pass on my dependents information.

I called Discovery Benefits and talked to a COBRA representative. The representative looked through my file and found the information I originally provided. They did not have any idea why that information was not entered into their system. The representative informed me they were entering the information now. They told me everything should be resolved within 3-5 business days.

Nine business days later I contact my insurance company to confirm that my dependents have been added. Most of the information is correct, but they are still missing information about one of my dependents. The insurance company tells me that I need to call Discovery Benefits to add the dependent. (Which I’ve already done).

I call Discovery Benefits up again. The customer service representative tells me that they have all the information that they need from me. However, the internal department responsible for adding dependents has not added the dependent yet. I ask the representative for a reason why. The representative cannot give me a reason. The representative repeats that “for some reason” the dependent has not been added. The representative tells me that they will add a note to my account about this issue.

I call Discovery Benefits back. I ask to talk to the department responsible for adding dependents. The representative does not know what I am talking about. I have to explain to them. There is a department within Discovery Benefits responsible for adding dependents to COBRA accounts. I then explain to them that one of my dependents has not been added and I want to talk to someone who can tell me why. The representative tells me that I cannot talk to that department. The representative still cannot give me a valid reason why the dependent has not been added. They continuously repeat “for some reason”. When I ask to talk to someone who knows what’s going on, the representative tells me that there is nobody I can talk to who knows what is going on. They communicate to me that the best that can be done is to add a “prioritized note” to my account.

Discovery Benefits - Delighted Customers
Not so much

To summarize. Discovery Benefits does not know what is going on. They cannot connect me to somebody who knows what is going on. And furthermore, there is nobody at that company who knows what is going on.

The best that Discovery Benefits can do for me is to add a prioritized note to my account. I am stuck. All I can do is hope that somebody sees this note and chooses to address it.

Discovery Benefits has proven that it is not capable of providing satisfactory service or information.