Your co-workers make you crazy.
They clog up your inbox with unnecessary emails. They drop by your desk unannounced to bore you with pointless conversations (even when you’re clearly swamped). They stink up your shared space with their hardboiled egg lunches.
There’s no doubt about it—working with other people presents some challenges (and some frustrations).
So, it comes as little surprise that people repeatedly tell me how lucky I am to work totally alone (unless you count my dogs, of course). And, most of the time? I’ll admit that it’s nice to not have to deal with those common grievances.
But, recently, I spent a few days in The Muse’s office—working right alongside the people I’m normally hundreds of miles away from.
What I realized? Sure, the standard office brings it with a few annoyances and inconveniences. But, what else? There’s a lot to appreciate about having co-workers.
So, in those moments when you feel like you need to do some deep breathing exercises in the the privacy of a bathroom stall to avoid screaming at your deskmate, remind yourself of these three benefits and then leave that bathroom with a brand new attitude.
1. Co-workers Make Great Sounding Boards
One of the things I loved most about having my co-workers within arm's reach was the fact that it was so easy to bounce an idea around.
When I didn’t know whether I should say “careers page” or “career page”? I asked what they thought. When I was stuck without any inspiration for an article idea? Our conversations gave me tons of nuggets that I could go off of.
Like everybody, I’m familiar with the old cliché of “two brains are better than one.” But, beyond just rolling my eyes at the sentiment, I never gave it much thought.
Spending a few workdays with such brilliant minds literally feet away from me served as a solid reminder that co-workers can be an awesome resource—provided you’re willing to actually listen to them.
2. Co-workers Understand Your Complaints
Sure, I can vent to my friends about the challenges I face at work—but, their reaction usually involves halfheartedly listening to me for a few minutes before ordering another round of drinks and steering the conversation in a totally different direction.
That’s the great thing about co-workers: They can commiserate with you about even the tiniest things that frustrate you on the job.
Yes, my other loved ones will listen to me whine in a pinch. But, I’d be hard-pressed to find people who are going to get as bent out of shape as me about the fact that there are only so many synonyms for the word “boss” or that people still don’t see the value in the Oxford comma. Those are shoes only my co-workers can fill.
3. Co-workers Put Up With Your Own Annoying Quirks
Here’s the thing that’s easy to lose sight of: For as much as your colleagues might annoy you, you probably grind their gears just as much. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t flawless.
I know my team members enjoyed having me in the office. However, they probably could’ve done without my loud typing and my incessant questions about the Wi-Fi password or how to work the high-tech water dispenser in the corner of the office.
Remember, you have your own quirks and habits that likely make your team members clench their teeth from time to time. So, why not just step down from that high horse of yours for a minute and cut your colleagues some slack? Chances are, they’re doing the same thing for you—without you being any the wiser.
There are going to be times when you feel like your teammates have you tiptoeing on the edge of your sanity—that’s normal.
But, in those moments? Don’t lose sight of the fact that, while working with others might have its downsides, there are plenty of perks that come along for the ride as well.
Take it from someone who works alone and spends her days having remarkably in-depth conversations with her dogs: If your co-workers were suddenly gone, you’d be surprised by how much you missed them.
Photo of people in meeting courtesy of Gary Burchell/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author