The Difference Between Retail & Office Work

I had a friend ring up last week and ask if I would provide emergency office cover. I'm not proud, I need the cash, I gave it a go. I had a really good time. I then realised there were some major differences between Retail and Office work:

Retail: You have 1 and a half hour break, and nothing bar fire, flood and acts of God will keep you from them.

Office: You turn up at 9am, leave at 5.30ish and eat at your desk.

Retail: You have to smoke in your break time.

Office: Smoke every 3/4 hour or more often depending on your stress levels. If you don't smoke, you're glued to your desk.

Retail: On your feet 7.5 hours a day.

Office: On your feet only to get to the photocopier/kettle and only if your chair won't roll all the way.

Retail: You count the seconds between your coffee break and lunch.

Office: Coffee is but a click away. Oh yeah, baby!

Retail: Lots of 'interesting' customers in your face.

Office: Not so many 'interesting' customers, and they're usually on the phone.

Retail: Nothing less than glamorous will do, preferably in a short skirt and high, high heels.

Office: It's clean, what more do you want?

Retail: Every moment is a surprise.

Office: Same shit, different day.

I'm hoping to do more of the office stuff, it really has been fun and it will keep me in coffee and hopefully, a colour laser printer. Besides, what else am I going to be doing on my days off?


  1. Eat at your desk?

    That might be OK if you have Internet access - otherwise it just isn't right.

    How flexible you are,

  2. Hmm... I think I work in a whoooole different office ;)

  3. Retail: Work 37.5 hours, get paid 37.5 hours.

    Office: Work 50 or 55 hours, (or more), get paid 37.5 hours.

    Retail: Get promoted by merit, seniority, or degree of brown-nosing.

    Office: promotion to management is determined by management experience. If you haven't any, and the MD's taken a dislike, you're f***ed...

    Retail: go home at the end of the day and de-stress.

    Office: go home at the end of a longer day and brood...

    I could go on....and on, and on...

  4. Nah! Don't do it, gal. Real women must wear high-heels!

  5. kaz ~ there is internet and I did eat at my desk, I then went off for a half hour to look at a fish pond.

    Flexible? Not if you saw me this morning.

    colin ~ yeah? what's it like there? I'd be curious as this was my experience in Local Government offices as well.

    cogidubnus ~ you've hit the nail on the head. Except for the promotion part Retail and Office - you have to brown nose and hope they like you up top (in my experience).

    dickie ~ I'm sorry, I'm obviously not a real woman. Not only do I wear flats to work, I prefer to work in trousers. Sorry.

  6. Office Working - siting at a computer all day, moving around bits of paper in a circular pattern that never actually makes a difference or achieves anything until you make a mistake and then suddenly the 'world is coming to an end'.

    Any other job where you actually meet real people - interesting, varied, sometimes aggrevating, frustating or makes you want to punch some one but at least something real is happening.

    I am bias - you bet. Worked in offices for 20+ years (what a waste). Now work in Care (terrible wages and hard work) would I go back - not on your nellie?

  7. moggie ~ Snap! I was just writing you an e-mail! He he he.

    I think as this is a small, frantically growing business and I know one of the founders, I haven't thought about it in those terms. Getting the paperwork right in this office means bills get paid.

    Paperwork in Local Government was exactly like that. Copies of everything in 6 different folders and an electronic copy.

    My favourite thing was to arrange meetings, to organise further meetings for a consultation exercise to tell us what needed to be done, when we already knew what had to be done, but needed to prove we'd had the meetings to apply for the funding. Which then led to more meetings to discuss how we were going to implement the new systems once we got the funding. Which led to more meetings to see how the project was going.

    Towards the end, I only turned up if at the end of the meeting, there were clear outcomes and there were danish pastries and/or biscuits, preferably custard creams.

    You can see why I got on so well within that system.

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  9. (reposted to correct a typo)

    Well, for a start, we have no coffee machine ;)

    These days, there's only about one of us desperate to get out of the door at 5:30, so we don't have that 5:30 mass exodus that you see in some places. I think being a small company, people have more of a connection to the company, so are willing to put a little more of themselves in. I did traditionally eat at my desk (or take it over to the common nearby in lovely weather) but these days tend to hop home.
    The smokers we've had (the minority) tended to have to fit their ciggy breaks around their working hours.

    Depending on what projects people are working on, people can often be randomly leaving their desks (especially me ;) ) to give input on other projects etc. It's not uncommon for it to take me about 45mins to do a round of tea for the 8 of us... As you get interrupted at each stop ;)

    Some days it feels like all I've done is moved from one desk to another and run up-and-down stairs! :)

    As all us programmers also double as support/training staff, we can get a fair few 'interesting' customers, but likely nothing to compare to the hassle of retail ;)

    I do tend to find the office has a different atmosphere if I turn up in a short skirt and high heels.

    ...Did I say that out loud?

    I love the variety. Sometimes I almost miss the early months where my timesheet would contain only one project line at the end of a week.
    These days it's a bloody miracle if I've only worked on one thing in an afternoon, let alone a week ;)

    Beaurocracy and paper shuffling really does me in, and I think that's one big reason why I've been able to work here almost nine years - a small company, with a small company attitude. No dedicated sales or marketing people. No real hierarchy, other than my two bosses at the top - the person leading one project today may be being led tomorrow.

    It's great fun :)

  10. Office sounds better than retail to me but then I have the joys of the NHS *shudder*

    Still I have coffee and uinch at my desk too. I'm not supposed to ...


  11. colin ~ there isn't a coffee machine in the office either...thank goodness, or I'd be intolerable. I know what you mean about dedication in a small business.

    hottie ~ I'm not sure, jury's still out. Anyway, the NHS is funding your Further Education habit. You've known you've got to suffer for your is the suffering :-)


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