Thoughts From a Covid-Era Cubicle, aka My Sofa

Have you ever had your idea turned down, only to be later presented by someone else, getting a roaring round of applause?

Autumn is here, folks. You can see it in the light

That seems to be the theme of the month at my work place. I’m trying to be grand and not too petty about it, but grr…

My colleague and I have been sending each other GIF’s of growling bambis in Teams chats, and using the crazy and puking-something-green emojis so much that they have become automatic suggestions by the helpful software genie that lives behind my screen. (Hello there, thanks.) Complaining could never be easier.

And eye-rolling! That is particularly well suited for video conference calls where the video is turned off to secure a better wifi experience. You can do it openly now, and no one will see you!

Downtown Helsinki – residential buildings

All sarcasm aside, I do love working from home and I would rather have meetings on Teams than in person. I was the kid who never liked group work at school, because I wasn’t loud enough to be convincing, and also because I always seemed to think of things differently than everyone else, making their joint approach feel illogical to me and hard to follow. I would arrive at the same place, but following a different path. In individual school work, that wasn’t a problem and I always got good grades. But teamwork was tough.

At work now, I put on a teamwork attitude in the morning, but real live meetings always felt like an utter waste of time, to be honest. Meetings where nothing happened, nothing was agreed upon, and people played with their phones. Meetings that prevented people from actually getting anything done, because their days were filled with meetings, talking about what should be done, theoretically, if they had the time.

Downtown Helsinki – towards the Finlandia Hall

Virtual meetings are more efficient, if you ignore the obligatory 5 minute small talk in the beginning where everyone laments how they would much rather be meeting live, and working from home in general is just more efficient. Saving time on commuting is amazing, and I’ve grown so used to being makeup-free that even when I try, I can barely apply my eyeliner and mascara anymore. I’ve simply lost touch of how it was done neatly, and I don’t miss it.

Hipster swimming spot – pretty from afar, but up close, the water was brown and lumpy

A while ago, I mentioned that jargon had made a big comeback at the office. That hasn’t changed. I can still barely understand half of what my newer colleagues – freshly arrived from other companies – are saying. I try googling the words, but Finnish is such a small language that the searches land zero results.

I read an article about a creative, hipster-run company that is experimenting with giving their employees the freedom to take as much annual leave as they want, whenever they want. Our Prime Minister is also talking about reducing working hours so everyone would have more time to spend with their loved ones and hobbies, and that would give the unemployed more work opportunities. She is getting negative feedback but I agree with her 100% and hope she manages to pull it off.

As in other parts of life, it will take a long time for regular companies to follow the hipsters, but after a rainy summer holiday during 3,5 weeks allotted to me half a year ago, when we had no idea what the weather would turn out like, I do hope valuing one’s personal life will turn into a growing trend. These rules are all arbitrary, after all. We could change them, if we wanted to. Just like we changed the working from home in your PJ’s rule.

And while I’m googling words and longing for a more freelance type of working culture, co-workers are presenting the same ideas I had two years ago as original and new, and others are chitchatting in virtual meetings about how awful it was to hear a jet ski’s noise at their private lakeside residence during the weekend. As a dear blogger friend said, life goes on, despite Covid worries.

77 responses to “Thoughts From a Covid-Era Cubicle, aka My Sofa

  1. Isn’t it so irritating when this happens? I think most introverts had the same problem with group work as you elucidate. (My own son hated it. He usually had to do all the work for the people who spoke the most. ) It is not a new phenomenon. The squeaky wheel always gets the most grease. People listen to loud people and quieter people fade into the background. Maybe we can’t express ourself so that others can understand in spoken words, and that is why we gravitate to the written.
    I have come to accept that this is so. Even though I may rail against it, in my head. In the end, it matters not much, as long as you know it was your idea!
    I love the light in your pictures! Fantastic. How cool are the days in Finland now? I have a friend up north who is glamping…. another new term hey?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, I’ve come to accept (and embrace) that I’m better at writing than talking coherently and convincingly. And I’m proud of it because let’s face it, not everyone can write!! Though to me it seems easy, I know so many people who struggle with a simple email at work.
      Your friend glamping up north – you mean in the Nordic countries or North Australia? Are you allowed to travel, are our borders open – I have no idea! 😊 Anyway, our summer was short as usual and now it’s rainy. Around 13C during the day. I wanted to go out for a walk just now but it’s pouring rain!!! What about you guys?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The state borders are closed here, but we can move around in the state. Still limited to 10 people per gathering atm as there was some infections brought up here from down south. The summer is starting – I can feel the bite in the sun, but thankfully no humidity yet. That will come with avengence in December. ( when I migrate indoors for four months).
        The Finnish friend is glamping up north in Finland. She is rugged up – looks that way on social media, but the weather looks great. Not rainy, just the autumnal shades creeping in to the Finnish rural landscape. 13 degrees sounds cool but pleasant. Rain every day is not fun though. And walking in pouring rain isn’t something I relish doing frequently! Not that I get the chance to do that here, much.
        I can’t believe people struggle with writing a simple email. My son seems to inherited the writing gene. He can whip up a poem or a song – he is a musician – in a few minutes or so. I was surprised when others laboured for hours over writing a poem or simple rhyme. There is a history of that kind of writing in our family background so I am convinced there is a gene for that.
        And you do write well, Snow! So I wonder if your boys will follow suit too?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a pleasure to find an update from Helsinki. (And wonderful sunny pictures as well!) It feels, if you allow me, kind of cozy. (Well, that is where sofa’s are for I guess. 🙂 ) In my younger days I, unlike you, rather liked meetings. Being somewhat lazy I didn’t mind the endless deliberations about basicly nothing in a mist of cigarette smoke and a swimming pool of coffee. (Yes, those were the days.) But you are right of course, it’s better to actually Do things. Luckely I did manage to learn that with the passing of years, in my own work space and with as little meetings as possbile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The swimming pools of coffee still exist (in my case, Nespresso shots), but working while smoking seems as exotic as flying while smoking. Although I do remember one of my first banking experiences as a student in France some 15-20 years ago: the bank teller lady had a large, ugly Marlboro ash tray in front of here and it felt absurd in an upscale area of Paris. Anyway, I digress. What were we talking about? Meetings, sofas. Did you/do you work as a photographer or is that just a very professional-looking hobby? I mean, your photos are so pro I always assumed that was your profession, but now I realised I don’t really know that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Photography is a hobby of mine (thank you for the compliment by the way!). My profession was social work and later I have spend my days (and nights) more or less solitary as a writer. I love to walk and to take pictures and that combined makes me leave my seclusion, wich of course is a very good thing. No professional meetings anymore though, just occasional some volunteers work. (Still coffee, no more smoking) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun reading and great lighting in those photos. This brought back memories of sitting in my cubicle at work listening in on various, mandatory weekly conference calls. I remember being so happy when I got slimline head phone and microphone so my hands were free and I could get some work done.

    I remember that with many of those calls involving issues that needed to be solved so many people started throwing out ideas that made absolutely no sense. I very rarely offered any suggestions during a conference call, or in and actual meet room. Instead I might discuss an possible solution in private with my boss.

    The reason I “didn’t share” was because I had learned early in my corporate life that if you offer an idea that people like, the “room” immediately assigns you the task of taking care of the problem even if it’s outside you’re area. 🙂 I do not miss the corporate world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh yes, I have no idea why jobs involve round after round of pointless meetings that I sometimes wonder why I’m a part of. Thanks for this post, and wishing you a lifetime of no commute and Team meetings!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I will say, at first I was bummed to work from home. I do like interacting with people. Not as much the meeting thing anymore because I have to work at keeping my mouth shut. I now have embraced zero commute, comfortable work attire, and zero makeup! I put it on one time for a zoom meeting. Who knew I looked exactly the same with or without makeup on the tiny computer camera? 😲 So, I set up my small workspace, next to a small workout area that is supposed to help me lose my Covid pounds (I’m working on it), and embrace the working from home thing. I am, however, ready for some sort of fun, non working, adventure. …I can relate to so much of what you have posted here my friend! 😎🙄😁😑🍨🍦 (Ice cream always helps)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely light in those photos. I don’t think I’ve had ideas stolen, which might reflect on the quality of the few ideas I’ve ever put forward! I’m with you on meetings, often a colossal waste of time. Fortunately, I haven’t had to endure an excessive number of meetings. I had a government job where I had to take minutes of meetings. This was an awful experience until I realized no one wanted me to take notes of what was said. Rather they’d tell me afterwards what it was they intended to say, I wrote that up, and everyone was happy.
    I was also on the board of a food co-op (and took minutes of those meetings). Easily the least cooperative group of people I’ve ever been in.
    Enjoy the working from home, no commute, no office bullshit for as long as you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The plans being proposed by your PM sound great. Having a job where you spend so much time doing menial tasks was so last year. I love working from home for the reasons you’ve mentioned and hope this is the new way forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love your summer pictures of Helsinki, my dear!
    Although I hate reading that your ideas were stolen from you.
    I truly like your PM’s plan BTW! Sounds great. Greatly hope she can pull it off too and maybe other countries can take the hint.

    Personal time with our loved ones is what truly allows us to enjoy our lives so I cherish the fact that I can work less and take that time!

    Have a lovely day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sounds great that you are working less and enjoying it! I do feel the current work/personal life ratio is too harsh. Not much time or energy for yourself or to be creative. Creativity could bring new ideas and inventions into the world: maybe that is what leaders fear? Losing control?
      Anyway, the ideas weren’t actually stolen from me. I’ve presented lots of ideas to improve sales to my boss over the years but he has always dismissed them. (His own ideas, however, are implemented immediately.) Now we have a company full of fresh new people, and they are suggesting the same things, entirely on their own. (The ideas are pretty obvious ones, you see.) And suddenly, voilà, my boss is thrilled and we now have permission to move on with these plans!!! For me, it feels a bit frustrating 🙄
      Take care!!! xxx 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for the mention dear friend.
    I feel your thoughts and I love the photos!
    It looks so relaxing there, right there in front of those small boats and yachts.
    It´s my favorite place as well back then in Kw, I watched sunsets over there and watch the boats and fishermen goes by…lovely memories.

    A dream to visit Helsinki someday..and it should be definitey Summer.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. First I must say that your photos are beautiful!
    I too would be frustrated (to put it mildly) by someone stealing my ideas and presenting them as their own. These days I’d likely speak up about it, though I don’t have to deal with a work culture or politics. At least you have someone to roll eyes with. And get to work from home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Working from home is great! My ideas weren’t stolen, they just didn’t seem like good ideas to my boss when they came out of my mouth, but when other people presented them, suddenly they were great ideas! It’s more of an image problem. Next time, I’ll have to package the ideas in a fancy presentation to him – which seems over the top, since over here hierarchy levels are low and bosses are easily approachable – but I definitely had credibility issues, in his eyes…

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I hadn’t thought about the benefits of on-line meetings. Less (time-wasting) meetings (which I always hated) and maybe more productive meetings now? 👍🏻
    Sorry about the ideas… It happens. I once made one of my executives cry (in the bathroom afterwards) when I told her: I guess your work is ok, but I don’t know, you never speak up. You never show me your work before i’ts included in others’ work. You need to show me what you do. (What a mean boss, right?) After she cried her heart out (Only told me years later) She started to be more visible. And she was good, and we’re still in touch…
    (Don’t hate me, plz) 🙏🏻🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s not really my case. My boss only has a handful of direct employees and I talk with him daily. It’s more that he is lazy about making changing and developing things and would rather just keep doing what we do. He’s a nice enough guy but he’s been doing the same job for 20 years and that makes you get comfortable. The ideas that were implemented involved pressure from other departments and that made him suck up so that he would look good…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I can think of a few suggestions (mine or from ex-colleagues) that have been brought up in the past which all got rejected for one reason or another, but have now been implemented as if they were original ideas. Thankfully the annoyance is usually out-weighed by the benefit from making the change.

    I heard of a Melbourne company doing something similar with unlimited leave/holidays for its employees (this was maybe 1-2 years ago). Apparently the workers still took less than average leave, but appreciated knowing that they had the option if they wanted it. I guess it would only work in companies where people like their jobs…

    Liked by 2 people

    • True, the annoyance is slightly made better by getting the ok to finally advance those ideas and make changes. I guess I should work on building my credibility and image, but then I like who I am and don’t want to change.
      As for the annual leave thing, good point! It would only work if people enjoyed their jobs, though on the other hand it would probably improve happiness at work. It also would work for shift work, like customer service or nurses etc, where you always need a certain amount of staff at any given time. But for many office jobs it could be a real possibility!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Reminded me of one comedy sketch, when they had a meeting about a meeting. Regarding freelancing, it is lovely, once you organise everything right. I learned the hard way, and I would have done everything differently. You live, you learn. Let’s consider it as an expensive lesson from life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The light, the lake, the trees in your photos are screaming to anyone who pass by to stop and indulge in its beauty. Lovely photos and I look forward your autumn view. 🙂

    Work at home is not quite in trend here, most bosses here has the mentality that as long as I don’t see you, you are not working! During our lock down, I received a warning email in an hour just because I did not pick up my phone which rang after the working hour. lol.. Imagine that huh. Would take decades before one would the same view as your PM.

    Oh, I agree with you, meetings are mostly waste of time and a merry-go-around. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • The older I get, the happier I am to replace sunshine and luscious ripe fruit with the black never-ending winters of the Nordics, since I appreciate more and more how sophisticated many parts of life are. Like family leave with young children and even things like advanced consumer rights. Things I take for granted. Your work situation sounds merciless. Hang in there!
      Oh, and thanks for your kind words! 😊 The water is actually the Baltic Sea.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Enpä voisi olla enempää samaa mieltä! Kaikesta! Etätyö on ihanaa, rakastan Teamsia

    Ja ihania kuvia kauniista kesäisestä Helsingistä. Olen käynyt kesällä Helsingissä tasan yhden kerran. Sattui kaunis ilta ja käytiin NJK:lla Valkosaaressa syömässä. Kummasti en ole kaivannut Helsinkiä – enkä etenkään niitä työmatkoja sinne Pasilan huudeille – sekuntiakaan. Tämä kotona pysymisen salliva koronamaailma on introvertin maanpäällinen taivas 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • No niinpä! Jotekin turhauttavaa että tarvittiin pandemia jotta vapaudutaan hieman toimiston kahleista. Luulen että tulevaisuudesta tulee freelancermäisempi (ja kaikki henkilöbrändää itsensä), vaikka siihenkään ei Suomen verotus ym vielä kannusta samalla lailla kuin monessa muussa maassa. Mutta pandemian aikana tämä on oikein hyvä paikka asua, kerrankin sää ei ole päällimmäisenä mielessä vaan turvallisuus ensin 😊 Kiitos kun luit!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Those beautiful views of a Helsinki autumn ~ wonderful photos. The home office trend is something interesting, I like much of it as it can be very productive, surprising how efficient it can be. Still, looking forward to the day when we have freedom to move without any issues…more of a hope now. Wishing you a great start to your autumn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Things over here are feeling more relaxed than in the spring, I suspect the virus is something we’ll learn to live with. Just hit the 6 month mark on working from home – an introvert’s dream! But yes, events and travel would be nice and also just that general carefree attitude we used to have… it might take a while for that. Take care!


  17. I sigh as I finish your post. I relate. I’ve had these “crazy” ideas about making things more efficient (and keeping the employee happy, so win-win) years ago and, of course, the answer was no. All of a sudden, ANYTHING is possible. They are doing A MASSIVE overhaul. Making everything as remote as possible. Well, about time. Only now, there is the pressure of time and rolling everything out for everyone instead of on a case-by-case basis. It’s sad.

    While there are people like me – who love working from home – I meet plenty of those who miss the in-person socializing. It just goes to show how much work they got done in the past…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very nice photos here, Snow. Autumn has indeed arrived for you.
    My husband is on the opposite side, he prefers doing everything face-to-face so he struggled a bit in the beginning when he started WFH. But I think he’s getting better at it now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Amor! Some businesses here are calling for the end of WFH because it means their death, like lunch restaurants downtown. Personally, I’m saving money by having the chance to make my meals myself. It gets down to corporations vs individuals again. As for autumn, it is pretty much gone: 3C in the morning is starting to feel like winter for me! Take care xx

      Liked by 1 person

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