Most bloggers in the personal finance community I’ve encountered don’t like their 9-5 and can’t wait to achieve financial independence (FI) to get out of that grind.
The harsh feeling might stem from an incompetent/unfair boss, annoying co-workers or the pure nature of the work itself.
I don’t hate my job, but there are days when I just can’t wait until I have enough money to not take orders from anyone or do the things I don’t like at the workplace.
Hating the 9-5 grind is understandable and relatable.
The costs of commuting to work seem countless: long commute, gas costs, business attire expenses, time away from kids, etc.
However, instead of wallowing in sorrow at my cubicle, today I will discuss the five benefits of working in an office that I don’t see mentioned often.
1. Save money on water and toilet paper
We all know that the toilet is one place that uses a lot of water.
It’s particularly true when there are two adults in the house who like drinking lots me water (me) and tea (Mr. FAF).
I’ve written about how to save water by not flushing the toilet when it’s yellow and mellow.
I got lots of great feedback from you all saying you apply the same rule at home.
Some of you also said it’s not worth the hassle of cleaning and bearing the odor, which I totally understand.
When we are at work, however, we don’t have an option. Flushing is a courtesy for the next person. We need to flush after ourselves.
Using the toilet at work can help us save lots of water and toilet paper. Our employer covers that cost without ever mentioning it to us (and they probably shouldn’t).
Our favorite toilet paper brand – Kirkland
2. Build relationships
I have built many good relationships with my co-workers. We don’t really hang out outside of the workplace per se, but we talk to each other almost every day, go to lunch sometimes, and tell each other about our lives, marriage, and careers.
We spend the majority of our waking moments at work, interact with almost the same people, and work on similar projects. There tend to be a lot of things we have in common and would like to share our thoughts.
Of course, we need to be careful about what we say and avoid gossiping at the workplace. But when I have a bad day and need to vent, there’s always one or two colleagues I trust and can share my feelings since they feel the same way.
Mr. FAF would never get it. I share what happens at work with him as well, but he mostly just nod in approval or tells me to be patient.
Most of the colleagues I’m close with are people who sit close to me and/or are in the same group. We talk to each other while waiting for a meeting to start, when we run into each other in the kitchen or simply strike a conversation about a beautiful outfit one of us is wearing.
Sometimes it’s just the random conversations that draw us closer to each other.
Now I admit that there are co-workers that are not so friendly or understanding. What I do is just avoid sharing any personal information with them and keep the relationship at a professional level. I talk to them when there’s work that needs to be done and try to be polite when I see them.
3. Have free food
This is one of the perks I love the most about working in an office. If I telecommute, I will miss out on all the freebies from meetings, brown bags, meet-and-greets, and farewell parties.
One of the surprises I enjoy is show up to a kitchen full of free food, snacks, and drinks which are leftovers from some event. Sometimes I crave pizza, Thai food, or tuna wraps, and are tempted to dine out.
Free office food!
However, such food would miraculously appear in the kitchen or a talk days later and curb my desire to spend money on restaurants.
I even have a bag of bagels from different events I keep in the office freezer for snacks and breakfast. I have tried many different dishes such as tuna wraps, Nepalese food, or Mediterranean food which Mr. FAF and I usually don’t buy.
4. Have a paid-for office space
I know many of us dread the cubicle. It’s like a prison for some.
On weekdays, many of us take a long commute to sit at the same desk for 8-9 hours and then go home.
The next day repeats itself in an excruciatingly boring manner.
However, instead of seeing it as a mini prison, why don’t we think of it as an office space paid for by someone else?
Some people can’t or don’t like to work at home.
They need to get out of the house and sit somewhere where the ambiance is more conducive to productivity.
Oftentimes people get a $5 coffee to sit at a coffee shop for a couple of hours or pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an office space a month.
At my job, I get a work station with two huge monitors and a space that can fit two people. I consider it my home away from home and try to embrace it instead of dreading it every single day. At least, someone is paying for the space, water, and electricity for me to sit there 8-9 hours a day.
And the best part, in my opinion, is that I don’t have to worry about other people stealing my stuff when I go to the restroom like when I’m at a public library or coffee shop. I don’t need to bring my laptop and purse to the bathroom to avoid theft.
I will have my co-workers watching out for suspicious activities, and everyone needs a fob to enter my office. There have been cases there thefts did happen before, but it’s few and far between.
5. Learn about the complexity of the world
This is what I consider one of the biggest learning experiences of working a 9-5.
There are many telecommuters at my job, and they usually complain about how they don’t know what’s really going on with the organization, restructuring, and politics in the office just because they are not physically in the office.
No one likes office politics. It can be just as complex, frustrating, and bureaucratic as the politics in real life. But the best way to survive is to learn how to cope with such challenges. They can serve you in many other areas of our lives as well.
Office politics has opened my eyes to how complicated the world and human nature can be. We want everything to be black and white, but it’s not always the case.
If you do want to run a business or hold a senior position with lots of employees one day, learning how to handle the push and pull at work can help you address similar challenges you will face as a boss in the future.
I made the points above not to sugar-coat the reality of the 9-5 grind. The truth is I do want to reach financial independence and work for my own or do not have to work at all.
But what I want can’t happen overnight. It’s the same as building wealth and paying off debt. It takes time, effort, and even sweat and tears.
I believe that nothing good comes easily. Instead of dreading the whole process of getting to FIRE, I will try to look on the bright side and enjoy the little things life offers.
The end goal of early retirement can be fun and fulfilling, but it could be the opposite with lots of unexpected hardships and frustration.
Before I get there, I will try to value my full-time job by stressing the many benefits it provides and cope with the obstacles it presents.