Tag Archive | "Office Tips"

Office Romance

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At one time or another, every worker bee in the hive finds him/herself puzzling over whether or not to pursue an office romance. Sure, there are the endless litany of horror stories: a failed relationship with a superior crippling one’s career, the snide comments of prying coworkers, unwanted advances leading to sexual harassment litigation, getting caught in the supply closet in a compromising position — you’ve probably heard them all.

Young people are expected to work longer and longer hours these days, and their social life is worse for the wear. Think of it this way: if you work 60+ hour weeks, you simply have no time to socialize. If you do manage to get out, you’ll have nothing to talk about but work. And unless you plan to bore the pants off of that striking young man or woman at the bar, you’re likely to be going home alone.

The office, then, begins to serve as both mill and mixer.

Obviously, there are a number of pros and cons to pursuing an office romance, in addition to the aforementioned “social-pariah” explanation. For one, you’ve had time to get to know and trust your coworker, thus removing the suspicion that generally fouls interaction in bars, or even first dates. On the other hand, you forfeit that “getting-to-know-you” period which is usually pretty damn enjoyable.

Another perk is the fact that your inamorata is always close at hand, facilitating the odd quickie, and making for a nice departure from workplace tedium. According to Dawn, an account manager at an advertising firm, “Sly, sexy looks from across the room are exciting no matter the location — bar or boardroom — and it certainly helps pass the workday.” Aside from well-hidden security cameras, the downside is that once word gets around, you’ll be under close scrutiny from peers and bosses alike. They’ll expect you to slip up. Don’t give them the satisfaction by allowing your productivity and professionalism to suffer. Also, note the possibility that several of your coworkers, like many people, stopped maturing by their high school graduation, and are just as small, nasty and gabby as any 15 year-old worth his/her salt. They will gossip, and they will derive endless pleasure from it. So be discreet, your job and your relationship may both depend on it.

Another benefit is that you’ll always have something in common, when the conversational well runs dry. However your shared employment experiences, according to Mike, an Internet project manager, can also become a detriment: “Remember, you’re together all the time. You’d think you’d have more to talk about, seeing as you have work in common, but you don’t. Your lives have become almost identical, and there’s not a hell of a lot left to be said. The relationship becomes even more boring than work itself.”

Some enamored employees even speak of office courtships as being more convenient and “efficient,” and therefore ideal — which they are, but only to an extent. If you’re late for a date because of a work obligation, he/she will understand. Perhaps you could commute together. And again, I refer you to free and easy access to quickies. However, let’s face it, efficiency and convenience are horrible, I repeat, horrible reasons for entering into a romantic relationship.

And because so many people enter into an office romance rashly, many of the relationships of this sort could potentially end rather badly. Consider that possibility before making your overtures. Consider the possibility that you may well have to smile broadly as you face the source of your misery every single day. It could be well beyond uncomfortable — it could leave you praying for the sweet relief of mere awkwardness.

It is always wise to consult your employee handbook, too, before proceeding. Some companies, due to a recent spike in sexual harassment litigation, prohibit employees from dating altogether. Keep sexual harassment in mind before approaching your desired coworker. Will your advances have a perceived hint of coercion? Will he/she think his/her job relies on their accepting your offer? If there is the slightest doubt, steer clear. And on that note, and for that reason, don’t date a superior or a subordinate. Ever. The resulting power struggle could spell doom for both your work and romantic relationships.

Office or no office, some people inevitably just fall for each other. Especially when said people are sequestered together in an office for the greater portion of their young adult lives. There’s nothing wrong with it. Just remember to be discreet, and be mindful of the ramifications of an office romance before taking the leap.

And hey, stay away from the damn supply closet after hours.

Office Politricks

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It took me two full years after graduation to land my first real (read: polyester-optional) job. It took me two years and about 19 seconds to realize I had a lot to learn about real jobs. Here’s an example:

My Boss: Anthony, meet David. David’s an excellent designer who’s been with the marketing department for over two years.

Me: (wearing my please-love-me-I’m-a-new-employee smile): Very nice to meet you, David!

My Boss: (three seconds later, in the elevator): David takes too long to finish his designs so we will be “letting him go” next Friday.

Me: (if I had had the guts): How the hell can you tell David he’s excellent and then fire him for being too slow, you lying, two-faced, jerk-in-a-suit?

Me: (gutless but not jobless): Shouldn’t someone inform David that he needs to increase his efficiency if he wants to keep his design position?

My Boss: (apparently discovering three noses on my face): That’s not how it works.

I spent most of that year piecing together “how it works” through this process of cowering like a sheltered schoolboy in front of an officemate condescendingly chiding: “That’s not how it works.” I’ll spare you the cute-guppy-in-piranha-infested-waters imagery, but I have to admit that discovering such oft-calculating corporate practices was quite a rude awakening for me.

Granted, some of those corporate practices could kiss my little sheltered-schoolboy ass. I refused to “borrow” our competition’s design proposal so my boss could have a better shot at acquiring the account. I refused to warn a female coworker, under orders from above, to curb her competitiveness lest she be branded a “feminist.” I refused to “fudge” the numbers of my subscriber report to match erroneous projections made by my boss.

What’s baffling is that I not only lived to tell the tale, I somehow prospered because of those refusals. For example, when Boss Fudge-ee changed those subscriber-report numbers anyway, I insisted that he take full responsibility for the report and remove my name from it. He argued. I insisted. He threatened. I insisted. He finally said “Okay”.

I thought for sure that “Okay” would be followed with “You’re fired” and then a ballpoint pen in my eye. I was ready for both. But instead, my boss instantly transformed into my biggest genuflecting fan, and I was left piecing together bizarre corporate lesson 44B: Sometimes employers/dictators respect you more when you stand up to them. I hadn’t done it in a combative way. I was diplomatic but steadfast. I made it clear that my ethics were more important to me than my job. That is, I successfully bluffed that my ethics were more important to me than my job.

Not all corporate practices are so melodramatic and sinister. I mocked – but chose to weather – the suit-and-tie getup and all of its status-binding accoutrements. I exchanged unwarranted pleasantries with extremely important and abrasive superiors. I adjusted my internal clock to include semi-consciousness from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I’ve since learned – the hard way – that some corporate practices have actually been bequeathed for the well being of employees. For example, you should never date coworkers – not even independent, stunningly attractive women in the sales department named Jen – unless you’re 680 percent positive that you’ll marry and live happily ever after, for eternity and then some. Never take lunch break at your desk, because important passersby will inevitably and silently note that you’re slacking on Company Time. Finally, and this isn’t always obvious during a three-martini lunch with fun clients: Never try to expense tequila shots. Not even one little ol’ round.