⋆。゚☁︎。⋆。 ゚☾ ゚。⋆

(privileged) work gripes

I've been growing a little more unsatisfied with my work lately. I've been working there for nearly 2 years now, and generally, it is a comfortable job. Office job, home office 3x a week, lots of union protections and rights, flextime, nice coworkers, fair pay. I can call in sick for 3 days without a doctors note and only need one at the 4th. I get 30 days PTO a year and can take some over from the previous year, and we have no limited sick days. I have my own solo office - with walls, we do not have large offices with cubicles. We even have a sensible mission that I stand behind and my work actually leaves somewhat of a mark and ensures the safety of society in a specific way. I contribute my part to that.

The work I get, what I actually get to see and handle, is very interesting to me. I enjoy seeing and reading it, and managing it.

However, the actual actions I have to take at work are very boring to me and aren't really fulfilling. I feel understimulated, bored. My work can easily be automated. In fact, I worked at a company in 2016 that back then already, did 50% of this work in an automated way and our job was just to overlook it and correct any mistakes it made.

Don't get me wrong, I technically love data entry, however there are simply parts about it or things about the data you're entering that are simply mindnumbingly boring, and I'd have no issue giving that to the robots (again). Entering things manually that you see on a form or cover letter into text boxes is just a concept that is extremely outdated to me.

Aside from this, my job is to watch over deadlines, send out autogenerated emails, and upload/download documents and put important email correspondence into the database. Everything is predecided and non-flexible, the deadlines, the emails, when the emails are sent, the content of the emails, the way the emails are named and zipped and uploaded, what the upload name is. Everything. There is no freedom to it. It is the decided uniform way, it is the most efficient and clear. Understandable to me, this makes the most sense - however not satisfying as a worker.

The digitalization and hyperspecialization really did a lot to make work mindless. Instead of having to walk to several offices, talk to people, hold files, turning over pages, physical writing - it's all been replaced with click, click, click. No movement, no tactile input, no contact needed. Not even calls, really. When I get 50 emails, I do the same series of clicks 50 times. I name the files all the same naming scheme. It feels like factory work, but in an office. I recognize that my wish to automate parts of my work seems to make it worse, but I can say, my job satisfaction does not hinge on me manually entering names and addresses and the date on the document into fields by typing. If we are already operating like this, making this a click too is nice even.

Nowadays, we just barely have any option for input as a worker, to do things our way, to tackle problems and think about how to do things, to put a little creativity in. I don't have to solve any problems at all. I just provide a service.

And instead of doing 1 hour of this, 2 hours of this, 30 minutes of that - whatever needs work and is available and something we are capable of doing - we have this niche we are responsible for and that's that. This lacks variety. Doing the same action repeatedly for 8 hours is shit, regardless what job.

It also hampers productivity. No emails coming in for your niche? No work. I mean, who complains about no work, I get it. It is nice in the home office, but not so nice in the office. It still feels exhausting sitting there until you can leave (in a way that doesn't produce too many minus hours in your flextime account). I could instead work something else to pass the time and get that done and feel less exhausted at the end of the day, less bored and mindnumbed, and maybe even get a sense of accomplishment. It could even provide a way to take a break of one area of work and instead take your mind off of it before you come back to it later. This is such a good way to avoid mistakes you make only because you've seen this 20 times before and your eyes and brain get lazy and you accidentally skip things or are unable to see a mistake because it looks the same to you as the other times. Just let me get to something entirely else so I can return with a 'fresh' brain. I usually fall so deep into autopilot during work that I don't remember doing it and sometimes go back and check if I did or if I did it correctly, because I just don't know.

The good thing is, my new boss is great and recognizes this, we talked about it and she wants to change as much as she can about this boring process without making things annoying and difficult, and also offered to look if I can get in on any projects or if I have anything in mind, to come to her about it. I really appreciate that. There is only so much you can do in the organization I am in, so this won't move mountains, but it still means a lot to me. My side project (the development of a new database) is ending soon since it will launch, and then it leaves me with the dreadful day work only. I've been thinking of researching Oracle Apex seminars I could ask them for so I can support the new database better, even if the external company that helps with it is dropped. Our IT budget was cut, and we have to advertise for new contractors every 4 years which sucks for the long-term development and support of our IT projects. Giving me more tools and knowledge to assure basic functionality in case something goes wrong would make sense. And I always love learning new things. The dude I work with that works on the UI recently screenshared his development screen and it intrigued me. I'll think about it and see if I find any fitting things for a training request.

My coworkers are pretty satisfied with the work, so I don't talk to them about that. I think it is also an age related thing - they are much older than me, they struggle a lot with English (they're actually taking English classes together right now) and tech stuff is really hard for them. They are very grateful for my advice regarding tech and language. But I grew up with tech, I've built my own computers before, I enjoy coding, I grew up bilingual and for a few years went to a bilingual school before we moved. For them, doing the work we do with 3-4 different databases and Outlook and Word and Excel feels like operating a difficult heavy machinery and it feels satisfying and takes up a comfortable amount of brain power to do the work. They need a lot longer for the same processes than I do. For me, it is second nature and like picking up a pen - I don't feel accomplished from this and I work much faster. I think I just need more things to do, a variety, or something a little harder, something with problems, something that leaves me a bit of oversight and control to steer things, a bit of design choices.

I honestly thought having more ambitious hobby projects in my freetime would make up for easy, mindless work, but for me it does not seem to. I think it works for some others and is worth a try, but for me, this does not change the internally frustrating fact that I spend so much of the week being underutilized. I used to strive for a job like this because of my autism, depression, PMDD and PTSD and thought I could not handle much and therefore should hope for something easy so I don't burn out and increase my mental illnesses, but my standards, self-esteem and abilities simply changed and I recovered from many symptoms. And I know these jobs are highly sought after, like on Reddit, where people ask for easy jobs that pay well and people respond with security and night reception and so on - jobs where people sit around, wait, and use the time for online classes or watching Netflix. People online brag about doing their work in 20 minutes and chilling the rest of the time, and I get it, becaude that's my job on many days. But for some reason I don't find as much satisfaction in that as them. I just get the feeling "this can't be what I'm doing for so many hours a week for the rest of my life" "I'm too good for this, my skills could be used elsewhere for better".

I still don't want a high stress fragile job just for more money; it's not something I can offer physically and mentally. I still call in sick more often on average than others because of my issues. But I need something a bit more challenging than this, because even studying or doing my own coding projects on company time is not making the work time worthwhile to me.

Even when I was in school, I often did not do homework because it seemed too easy for me and not worth the effort to even think about it or write anything down (except for math, physics and chemistry, I really suck at these). At most, when forced, I wrote down key words. I just couldn't bring myself to put in so much effort into something I considered so easy and not being any beneficial for me. I still have this issue where I struggle to get myself to work on anything I deem to easy, and it can be an issue in my job, but I value the mission and what my coworkers think about me, so I force myself into it. But it's hard fighting against this resistance. It doesn't make sense, because if it's so easy and quick, why not just do it and be done with it? But for some reason, my brain doesn't work that way. It's like my executive function drops to 0 and I yell at myself internally that I just have to do this little easy thing and I'm off the hook, but I just can't move. It takes a lot to overcome that.

I can recommend the book "The Refusal Of Work" by David Frayne in regards to modern work issues. <3 It's available for free online on WordPress, but I have the book.

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