Friday, August 10, 2012

Working it old school

Scott and I have been discussing what we feel is important in work place a lot these days. Afterall, Scott will be starting at a new job in the next few months, and I have seen quite a few offices in the last 12 months. And of those offices, I've dealt with issues shoe-free zones, construction areas (in the office), hostile work environments, and spaces so quiet, even the office phones were on silent. We both agree none of that is ideal.

Scott is considerably more relaxed than I am. His ideal work environment consists of jeans on any day of the week, starting at 9, but no one shows up before 9:10, heck, he even loved the idea of a dog coming into the office for a day here and there (until he realized that playing with a dog on a Thursday would be fun... but having to work twice as hard on Friday to make up for it would not).

On the other end of the spectrum, I like a much more professional environment. I'd rather know what the expectations are and strive to meet them, than flounder through only discovering where the boundaries are too late. I like clean, organized work spaces. I like tailored skirts and structured jackets. I like professional interactions between employees.

Don't get me wrong - I like some levity in the work environment, but I know that levity comes from respect. I appreciate when my boss understands that my bus was running late, and thus I did not arrive on time. In turn, I know I will make up that time without having to be asked.

I like having a crowd of "work friends" with whom I can share a story and a laugh. But I try to keep the social conversation short, or limited to coffee and lunch breaks.

I like that the occasional conversation that crops up in the office and involves the whole department. But I also know that they are not a daily occurrence as everyone has different "busy times" , so it's best to keep across office conversations to a minimum.

Sometimes, I wonder if I have too high expectations for my work environment, especially when my co-workers jokingly say: "Cara's no fun" or someone commends my "exceptional work ethic" when I feel I'm just meeting the requirements set out by my position description.

I broached the subject with the crew that haphazardly gathers for lunch. Does it make me strange that I don't crave social distraction at work? That I don't see the appeal of "perks" of being allowed to bring pets to work like I see some offices allowing? That I relish the silent moments in a shared office? The general consensus was that my preferred environment was not necessarily better than the other. 

When pushed further, as to whether I was expecting too much from our work environment, one of my colleagues said that she agreed with my preferred work environment and that it did make sense for our field of work. Then she shrugged and added: "But maybe we're just old school".

With that in mind, I'll gladly leave Scott in the "modern" work work of his design and technology related field. I'm quite happy, kickin' it old school. And maybe, just maybe, it'll help me climb that corporate ladder.

1 comment:

  1. I kind of agree with you. Although in a school setting. I'm in college, which is school you pay for, but I still have classmates with high school mentality that they don't want to be there and are willing to only do the minimum amount of work to pass. I actually got into a few arguments with one girl because I wanted to do my work right and exceed, not just "get it done".

    I don't really hang onto classmates as long term friends either. Most of them I will never see or talk to again after the class is over, but I will be friendly enough to have someone to chat with on breaks and share notes if one of us misses a class.

    I find it hard enough to focus on learning and getting my work done without the distractions. I've worked hard to maintain my grades and I certainly don't want to compromise them because of high school work ethic.

    I assume I'll probably feel the same way when I go into a job setting. I like having structure because that way you don't wind up doing something wrong due to unspoken rules and boundaries.


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