3 reasons The Office is work goals

by Apr 19, 2021

Let’s get one thing clear: there’s no way in hell I would want to work for Dunder Mifflin.

The dynamics of the fictional paper company in NBC’s The Office are painful to watch. There’s gross mismanagement, workplace bullying, hours of pointless meetings, and don’t even get me started on the cringe-boss factor (Scott’s Tots anyone??? I’m still in therapy about it.)

But if the workplace culture at Dunder Mifflin is so terrible, why did almost all of the main cast end the show still working there? And what keeps viewers of The Office coming back for more?

While the show provides us with advice on what not to do at work, it’s also got a lot of positive examples going for it. Here are three career lessons you can learn while watching The Office.


It’s ok to have more than one hustle

Your work doesn’t have to be your life, and if your work is Dunder Mifflin, maybe it shouldn’t be! That’s where side hustles come in.

Look at Dwight: not only is he the most successful salesman in the office, he also runs a beet farm that hosts events and a successful Bed & Breakfast. In Season 6 he even expands his business prowess to purchase Scranton Business Park! Of course all these ventures take time and energy, but because of Dwight’s willingness to work hard, Dwight is able to turn his passions into thriving businesses.

That isn’t to say that maintaining multiple side hustles doesn’t take extra time and responsibility. In Season 9, fellow paper salesman Jim spends the bulk of his time travelling between Scranton – working at Dunder Mifflin and keeping up with his family – and starting a company in Philadelphia. This constant travel and stress puts a lot of pressure on his personal and professional life, but because Jim has passion and drive, he’s able to make it work.

Ultimately, Jim chooses to put all his energy into the passion-project in Philadelphia, while Dwight is able to balance his different hustles all at the same time. Neither one of these options are the “right” ones – it all depends on the way you work and allocate yourself time. Maybe balancing several different projects causes you undue stress, or maybe you get bored at just one job. Whatever works for you is the right way to go!


Pursue your passions

Your current job doesn’t have to dictate the rest of your career. It’s completely normal to not be sure what you want to do straight away, and to try out a number of different careers or pathways.

Pam in The Office is a perfect example of this. When we first meet her, it’s immediately clear that she hates being a receptionist at Dunder Mifflin. It’s boring and repetitive with very few opportunities for growth, and she’s treated let’s say… sub-optimally.

But Pam doesn’t let herself stagnate and stay at a job she hates. Throughout the course of the show, she undertakes further study in graphic design, comes back to Dunder Mifflin again, becomes a salesperson, and ultimately Office Administrator. Ultimately, she creates a role for herself where she can use her talents, be confident, and command respect. And while she doesn’t end up living her dream as a full-time artist, Pam never gives it up, painting murals for friends and eventually the City of Scranton.

This just goes to show you don’t have to stay in a job you’re not passionate about. It’s ok to have a career that takes twists and turns rather than travelling in a straight line, and it’s ok to pursue your passions outside of work too! Keep trying, shake off that imposter syndrome, and find (or create!) a career that puts your talents and passions to work.


Work hard and play hard

Ok so maybe most of the employees (and bosses) at Dunder Mifflin spend most of their time playing rather than working, but the principle still stands. Sure, much of the work day seems to be filled with pranks, Office Olympics, and walking across hot coals, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely pointless.

About one third of your life will be spent at work, so why not make it fun? There are a bunch of benefits to a playful work environment, like:

  • Stress reduction
  • Increased creativity
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Improved teamwork
  • Better relationships with co-workers

I’m not saying you should go off and start Dunder Mifflin style Diversity Days or road-trips, but bringing a bit of fun and playfulness to work will certainly pay off in the long run. Why not try going out for lunch with one of your co-workers, or organising after work drinks with everyone? You could start a book or recipe club, introduce “getting to know you” questions in your daily meetings, or create a bit of friendly competition with monthly challenges.

Whatever you do, make it in service of a fun and relaxed work environment. That way, when you wake up on a Monday morning, it might be just that little bit easier to get out of bed.


From excelling at side hustles and following your passions, to creating a “work hard play hard” office experience, there’s plenty we can learn from the employees of Dunder Mifflin. Next time you watch The Office, keep in mind the career lessons you can learn, and thank your lucky stars you don’t have Michael Scott as a boss.



Gifs courtesy of giphy

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron

Communications Assistant

Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.