1) There will be an individual who claims they are ‘not one to gossip.’ This individual is the sole source of any and all workplace gossip that has ever passed – And also seems to have a keen sense for any that may come to pass in the future. Often caught nattering amidst a gathering of colleagues with hushed tones and the light of excitement in their eyes, the office gossip somehow manages to thrive in the centre of all drama without ever directly involving themselves.
2) Temperature wars. In the extensive history of office work, I am confident that there has never, on any occasion, been a split second in time when all occupants are simultaneously content with the temperature of the room. The menopausal women are flushing and flustering by the window whilst others are huddled in coats and scarves by the thermostat, cranking up the temperature. The room is filled with desk top fans, open windows sneakily slammed shut when sweaty backs are turned, and a thermostat system than none of you actually know how to use – And still, amongst all the temperate adjustments, not one person is satisfied.
3) Inappropriate e-mails are being circulated daily between departments and colleagues. You can tell when one has been sent and received between a pair in a room – The sender is peering across the room and sniggering at the back of the recipient’s head – The recipient is trying to stifle laughter and desperately opening an irrelevant spreadsheet in an attempt to conceal the culprit e-mail when somebody walks past.
4) Tea and coffee is the root of all evil. It begins with suggestive moans of “It’s dry up here,” followed by a brief squabble over who made the last round. Eventually somebody returns from the kitchen with a round of drinks only to receive outright abuse over how poorly made they are. “It looks like dishwater.” “Half a cup, eh?” “Did you even wash the cup out first?” It’s all done in good humour though and hot drinks are sipped gratefully whilst everybody prepares for the fiasco to repeat all over again in half an hours’ time.
5) There is a vegan. The Office Vegan. You wouldn’t be aware of their dietary choices if it wasn’t for the fact they mention it at every given opportunity, give you explicit descriptions of the vegan choices local restaurants offer, and loudly proclaim that the biscuits a colleague has bought in aren’t suitable for them. Said Vegan is often pursuing Instagram fame using hashtags such as #instavegan. The Office Vegan is usually very good humoured in accepting and even participating in the meat-based banter that is often aimed at them. Usually.
6) Rule change = anarchy. People love a good debate over change, and love even more to pretend to be outraged over minor things that, quite truthfully, deep down, they really don’t give a shit about. It may just be the element of spicing up the 9-5 routine a little bit. But honestly, HR could send out an e-mail announcing that wearing red velvet bow ties to work is now banned and 70% of the office would kick up a fuss claiming breaches to rights, emotional effects and an undying love for red velvet bow ties. The mourning of red velvet bow ties would ensue for less than one working day and, swiftly, all those affected would conveniently discover a newfound passion for whatever is banned/changed next.
7) Banter is the core of every office. Some can take it, some can’t. Playful comments are rapidly escalated to outright inappropriateness and, because you all love it just as much as each other, you let it slide and bat comebacks back and forth between each other all day.
8) There will be somebody from a different department who you walk past every day, crossing them in the kitchen or holding doors open for each other. You have absolutely no idea who each other is and neither of you bother to ever ask the other’s name – Instead, you both just do that awkward, breathy little ‘alright?’ that you reserve for times when you can’t really stay silent, but also don’t really have any other sort of conversation to offer. These encounters leave you feeling awkward and ashamed and you vow to do better next time, every time – You never do. You’re destined to ‘alright’ this person until the end of your office days.
9) There is a specific conversation which is guaranteed to take place every single week like clockwork – “it’s been a long week, hasn’t it?” Someone will say it on Thursday afternoon – As surely as the sun will set, someone will utter these words every single week and everybody will respond with agreement, nodded heads, a united stance against the strains and stresses of Monday to Friday. Even if you personally think it’s been a quick week, you will always agree with this person. It’s just the rules.
10) Work isn’t just work – Colleagues aren’t just colleagues. You might annoy each other sometimes, but you’re a close bunch who love to drink with each other outside of work too. You’ve had office nights out and crawled into work the next day to share a McDonald’s breakfast, battling your hangovers and soldiering on together. You do shots together at the Christmas party and, the Monday after, reassure each other year after year that ‘You weren’t that embarrassing, honestly, you just tweaked the bosses nipples a few times. He didn’t mind.’ You learn to love that versatile, mismatched, crazy crowd you spend 35+ hours a week with – And you begin to call them not just colleagues, but life-long friends.