There are definitely some things I miss about working in an actual office, such as flesh and blood coworkers, free office supplies and a seemingly non-ending parade of cake for people’s birthdays. One thing I don’t miss, is office politics. They’re unavoidable and run the gamut from mild nuisance to total dysfunction affecting productivity. Seeing how dysfunction plays itself out at the office holiday party can be mildly amusing, but it’s almost worth being a solo entrepreneur and not having a party just to be able to forgo the politics the other 364 days of the year.
But having my own business and working from home certainly doesn’t mean I escape the politics. If anything, it’s a feat not to get drawn in more. Nearly all of my clients are companies. That means some type of office. And that means office politics. Alliances made behind coworkers backs? check. Right hand doesn’t know what left hand is doing because they don’t talk to one other? check. Raging office affairs? Well, haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.
As the outsider, typically only involved with a client for a temporary period of time, you would think people would not want to air their dirty laundry. You’d be wrong. Maybe it’s because I am a “stranger,” only around for a finite period, so it’s easy to talk, sort of like confessing things to your seat mate on a plane that you’d never share with your inner circle.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of times knowing the dirt and skeletons helps me maneuver and get my job done. I can feel like part Clinton (Hillary or Bill, take your pick) playing diplomat, part Dr Phil trying to solve the issues. It is an interesting reminder of how working from home means working differently. When I collaborate with people on a project, I’ve picked the people, and unless what they do is SO special and unique, if there is too much “noise”, I just don’t need to use them. There are plenty of other fish in the freelance/solo pool, fish with whom I’d be more simpatico. I get enough politics in the news, I’m happy I can usually do without them in my work.