Changing Workplace Relationships

Recently I shifted projects at my workplace.As is customary,I requested my team-mates to keep in touch.One of them declined stating that we were only colleagues and not friends.I had never looked at it that way.That set me thinking.

My school mates and college-mates never made any statement like-‘Oh we are just classmates,not friends’. There are some classmates whom I rarely interacted with during my student days.But today,we are good friends thanks to social media.Then why the same principle doesn’t apply to colleagues.

Perhaps it is because at work we have to earn for our survival.That pressure was not there in our care-free childhood days.Nor was such a tendency there for our previous generation.

My parents worked for government agencies.They worked from Day 1 of their career upto their retirement in the same office and cultivated life-long friendships.They literally matured from youth to old age with the same set of office colleagues.Naturally,colleagues became friends who would take part in their joy and sorrow.Even after their retirement,my parents had their friend-colleagues call on them-wishing them for birthdays and anniversaries.They even used to wish me for my birthday!. Friends became family. It was not unusual to visit a colleague’s house for lunch or dinner.Not only that, they were really willing to help out each other in times of need.Or offer advice and solace when emotionally down.

What has changed in our generation?

More Competition and More Materialistic Outlook:

Our parents had less competition,less jealousy and more kindness towards their co-workers.Their needs were simple.They only wanted money to support their family and keep it going.On the other hand,our generation is more
For our parents’ generation,owning a house was a dream for many.Even if they did,they spent a
lifetime repaying the loan.On the contrary,we aim to purchase more than one dwelling and also finish off the loan asap.
We want instant gratification.Cliched,as it seems,the statement is true.We are not satisfied with our possessions.We are greedy.We want fancy gadgets and fancier vacations.We compete about having the latest model LED TV or Car. With each gadget having an updated version every six months,our needs are never satisfied.

To keep up our status with that of our peers,we constantly need to earn more.Hikes and promotions do not happen just like that.For our parents’ generation,advancing in the organization meant writing some departmental exams and clearing it to secure promotion.For us,that is not the case.You need to be highly competitive.Though not mentioned openly,the truth
with corporate culture is that you need to push out the person working
with you and advance further.When the only way to advance is to annihilate any other opposition you have,there is no way you are going to look at your co-worker as a friend. A co-worker is a competitor and an adversary,not a friend.

That is the sad state of affairs in our generation.

Changing Employers Often

Another point to note is that we do not stick to the same employer till our retirement,like our parents.Our colleagues also change each time we change our work-place.That means we do not develop long term friendships with our co-workers.

Virtual Workplaces
Also these days we mostly work in MNCs where we have to work with global teams across cultures and geographies.Most of the work is done with colleagues whom we never meet face-to-face.That robs us of any personal touch that could be added to our relationships.In such situations,office relationships become very impersonal and lack a human touch.

Of course,professional life is different from personal life and mixing both is not in our best interest.But the way things are moving,it looks as though we have stopped looking at people as people and only look at them only as human machines who do work and provide information when needed.

In the urge to get past competition,we forget that our colleagues are also humans who have emotions and needs. I would like to emphasize that everybody needs kindness,compassion and understanding. We are not going to lose anything by being a bit more understanding to our fellow workers.A more humane and relaxed working relationship results in more productive work and happier people.

Day 5 post for Ultimate Blogging Challenge 

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