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All work and no play

All work and no play
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First Published: Thu, Oct 28 2010. 09 39 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Oct 28 2010. 09 39 PM IST
And all of a sudden it is Friday again.
How bizarre.
So what plans for the weekend?
But before you answer that, what plans for this evening? I ask because I’m wondering how many of you, dear readers, are going to spend substantial amounts of this weekend with your co-workers from office.
Emphasis on the “substantial” because a drink or two after work is perfectly normal.
Over the course of the work week, it is quite possible that we develop prickly sentiments towards our fellow cubiclists.
They might turn up late for important meetings with clients, but seem to not care at all. You might turn up late for some insignificant presentation to a miserly client who is a gigantic waste of time, but your co-worker will totally overreact. He will make a big deal out of it and use big, loaded words such as “professionalism” and “apothecary”. As if only he/she prepared for GRE unsuccessfully.
By Friday, you can’t stand to be with them in the same workspace. Every time you walk by the conference room you want to pick up one of those big heavy crystal Diwali gift bowls and smash them over the head with it, before and after each meeting.
In such circumstances that casual drink on Friday can help you unwind and dissolve some of those pent-up frustrations.
That much I can understand. But organizing a sleepover on Friday night at a colleague’s place with the family? And then going on a joint all-family trip to EsselWorld next morning?
That I don’t. Shudder.
Like many of you, I also always carry with me a small black notebook full of rules for office conduct. These have been developed over years of careful cubicle observation and analysis. And one of the most important rules in this book is:
Avoid making friends with people at work. If you see people getting too friendly with you, they probably have an ulterior motive. If you can, fire them as a precautionary measure.
I am pleased to say that this policy has always helped me in my professional life. I prefer to make friends the old-fashioned way: Twitter.
But then I see many people who have a very large friends circle in their office itself. They meet on weekends and even sometimes on weeknights. They go out trekking and jogging and gymming together.
And, most revolting of all, they appear profusely in each other’s Facebook photos.
Personally I find this trend quite disturbing. To me it has always seemed that friendships at office are emotional and professional minefields. Here are some brief reasons why:
1. The Baga-boardroom duality
So I totally downed a dozen Tequila-flavoured battery-water shots with you in that shack. This clearly means that I can sit right next to you during meetings and make booze jokes. While you are desperately trying to rescale and reformat our sales graph till the arrow somehow points upwards.
You should make this graph in purple dude...
2. A favour here, a favour there
Remember that time you turned up stag at that nightclub? And then I had to frantically convince my least favourite cousin to come? So that they would let you in with her? Very good. Now I would like to you repay that favour. I am going to Cyprus for a second honeymoon. Kindly take care of our Greek bonds portfolio while I am gone.
3. Taking it personally. And professionally
You should not have promised to watch Iron Man 2 with me. Especially when you didn’t want to watch Iron Man 2 with me. You should not have ditched me at the last moment. I should not have had to watch the movie alone. Now I am very upset. I should not have formatted your office laptop, erased your back-up pen drives and run your back-up-for-back-up memory cards through the shredder while you were away at lunch. But such is life. Deal with it.
4. Friends in high places
I am so happy you’ve become CEO. Now you can do justice to our intense office friendship and make me vice-president of something cool. What do you mean, this is a meritocracy? Nonsense. My wife is your wife’s closest friend now. They do power yoga together. Our children Wii on the wiikends.
VP of corporate communications you say? OK. But I want my own iPad.
5. Frust’ among equals
We were like siblings. Like Siamese twins successfully separated, but then hired by the same company in the same department. And then this performance appraisal happened. Now you are senior manager. I am a still associate manager. I have to report to you. You will appraise me. This is not going to work out. So I have made friends with this fellow here. We are plotting your downfall. Traitor.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other ways in which innocent-looking workplace friendships can turn into massive career self-goals.
But then you might have a differing point of view. In which case why not catch up for a drink or some such? But only if you work for companies besides HT Media Ltd. Such as the Kingfisher Calendar Pvt. Ltd.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at cubiclenama@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Oct 28 2010. 09 39 PM IST