30. Office Politics
New Year, and a for me a new job, new office and a load of new work colleagues. Within minutes of me being there I noticed something rather incredible. The IT chap came over to set up my PC then scampered off. I needed to ask him something so asked the girls who sit next to me what his name was – they didn’t know.
It seems to me that different offices have different social cultures, and I wonder whether this has an impact on how much we enjoy our jobs. I have worked in a number of different offices, and they all have a different work culture.
The extreme was a medium sized publishing company where everyone knew each other’s names, favourite food and dress sizes. The spit and sawdust pub next door was the clubhouse for the more social 25% of the company. It was a lovely place to work, and even though the pay wasn’t brilliant and the location was a bit out of the way, the friendly culture was definitely a factor for the low turnover of staff. Everyone said hello to each other, or acknowledged each other, throughout the hierarchy.
The down side of this was that the pub next door turned into a den of secrets and lies, too much alcohol and work colleagues bonding, wrecked a number of relationships through inter departmental shagging.
Another place I worked was so unfriendly that when I said goodnight to the receptionist she would ignore me. I assumed that it was just that she wasn’t used to it, so I continued doing it every evening; she weirdly continued to ignore me. Then, one day when I had to ask for her help on how to work the photocopier, she acted like an awkward little bullying victim. I realised then that the evening ritual of her ignoring my pleasantries had got out of hand, and she was actually intimidated by my good manners. Hmmm. The turnover of staff here was pretty high.
So do other office cultures fall into these categories too? And does a nicer working environment make us enjoy our jobs more? If so, what are the steps to changing a work culture to something a bit nicer? I’ll do a bit of research and report back next week…
By Liz Akers