When Co-Workers Are More Than Just Co-Workers - The Only Way I'll Work

United States
January 23, 2007 11:11pm CST
This discussion is prompted by a comment someone left in another post of mine that got me thinking. The commenter said 'work and your personal life should always be separate. Work is work and your personal life is your personal life.' And that got me thinking, because I've never had a job where I didn't feel like part of a family. I've never worked anywhere where the people I worked with weren't also my friends. When I was working ACO, my superior was like a mother to me. The desk clerk was one of my closest friends. I'd spend weekends out with the girls who took care of the animals. We were an incredibly close knit group. We spent holidays together. When I was assistant managing a privately owned pet supply store, it was the same thing. The owner was everyone's dad. When I had to get away from an abusive partner, he and the other guys picked me up and made me feel safe. Not because I asked, but because they cared about me. They were closer to me at the time than my biological family. Zookeeping, same thing. I can't ever imagine being in a job where the people I worked with *weren't* a part of my personal life. And I realized how strange this must seem to so many people, because I know it's not normally like that. I couldn't fathom working in some big company where everyone was a last name or a position. It just goes to show how different our experiences are.
13 people like this
40 responses
@eaforeman6 (8983)
• United States
24 Jan 07
I would think it depends on how you are. I have heard some people say that they dont want any mixture between the co workers and there personal life because if you have differences , it tends to carry over into work and may affect how people do their jobs or their ability to work together.We have all heard about love in differences and the stress that it can place on the work environment. You know when coworkers have these love trists that dont work out. If it goes into the really bad phase where they dont want to look at each other at all. I think gossip can also be a problem in it as well.
2 people like this
@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
24 Jan 07
Me and my two coworkers are like family both at work and away from work. I think it is more family like for us since it is just the three of us at the office so we get along much better than having a lot of coworkers. We talk to each other a lot and work together to help provide quality service to the students but we also share things in our personal life and give each other tips and suggestions to succeed. We are good friends and email each other when we are not at work and sometimes talk on the phone. My coworkers are my friends as well as being coworkers and see nothing wrong with that at all.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Jan 07
I have worked in places were I got along very well with my coworkers and superiors and others where I have felt like a square peg in a round hole! My mother always taught me to NOT try to be buddy-buddy with the boss because it could backfire at some point. I have had superiors/supervisors who have tried 'hangin' with the crew' and then when they've tried to tell me I've done something wrong, I'm confused and hurt (gee, why am I being singled out for the same thing Rob or Suzy's doing?). Rather than start a third world war, I chose to keep my mouth shut and look for a new job. This guy continued to be chummy with others but I refused to be baited. I made some friends there that I continued to speak to for a number of years after I left (until they moved). My last position was quite strange--a VERY small company (that kept shrinking!); in my department, everyone had been there at least 8 years (some more than 20!) and it was very clique-y, made worse by the fact that the head of the department was married to one of the coworkers. In 2004 or 2005, it was down to four of us and this woman had a history of throwing temper tantrums to get her way. Her husband was scheduled to be let go and when she threatened to quit (even walking out for the afternoon), her supervisors decided to let the other man go that had 25+ years experience but couldn't handle upgrading to the new technology (even I agreed with that, just not her technique or method). I had been a volunteer GS leader for quite a few years and made arrangements to switch my hours from 11am to 7pm to 8am to 4pm one day a week. I stopped being an active leader after 6 years but I was going in to help a friend's troop that met after school. My supervisor flipped out one day about it (our first meeting was the following week, this was a sit-down to prepare) and began screaming at me like I was a little kid! I ignored it for the most part (because I was leaving) but I did yell back that perhaps she should have spoken to me sooner prior to my accepting the volunteer position. I felt horrible having to give it up (it was a troop I helped to co-lead the prior year). I didn't speak to her for two weeks and afterwards, only when absolutely necessary. I was laid off two months later (four of us were) and on my last day (I called out sick my scheduled last day), she left at five and cheerily said 'see you tomorrow!'. I don't think I'd ever work for a small family-owned business again--I did that twice (two positions prior to the one above as well as the one above) and didn't enjoy it at all. I've had jobs were the co-owner felt the need to tell me my shirt was tinted (it was accidentally washed with the dark green sweater) and I 'should throw it out'--yeah, I'm making $8 an hour and I can throw it out? The last one I was assumed to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth because my father owned his own business and I lived in my town...um, is that why I didn't get a raise for 4 1/2 years? If I got a job again (I'm self-employed now), I'd like to work in a company where everyone is treated fairly and I had a chance to demonstrate my abilities. I work hard, often harder than most and was given good ethics by my parents. I couldn't work in a large company again (been there, done that, never again!)
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jan 07
I cannot stress this enough, keep your business life and your personal life separate. Why? Business is business, and you are there for one reason and one reason only and that is to make money to support yourself and your family if you have one. By mixing in your personal life, you complicate things, you do not get the work done, and the money gets lost. You have to remember that your job is your job, nothing more than that.
• United States
25 Jan 07
Dude, did you read my post at all? The places I've worked weren't big businesses. They weren't about retail other than the pet supply place. And we always got the work done and we made plenty of money - I was making a good five or six hundred dollars a week at the pet supply store. What works in one situation doesn't work in all. In all three of my main jobs, we were close as family. Maybe because they were all jobs in animal care so the money wasn't the priority - it was taking care of the animals. That was our priority. Maybe because in ACO we all went through a lot of traumatic things together, and we all knew we couldn't lean on anyone who wasn't in the same field. Look at firefighters and police officers. They *have* to be close with their coworkers because lives depend on them being completely devoted to each other. There are a lot of jobs that are about more than just making money - a job that is being done just for the money isn't a job worth doing, in my opinion.
• India
24 Jan 07
ya i have been in ma part time for the past 5 years nd never had a situation when i could find similarities between ma home nd work..if any one says so its simply ubsurd.
• United States
25 Jan 07
Like I said, I think it really all depends on where you work. Some places lend themselves to a more intimate, family-like atmosphere. Some places can't achieve that at all.
24 Jan 07
I think that some people, who are shy or insecure or whatever, don't like mixing work and their social life, because then, if they DO have a problem in their social life, they can sort of distract themselves by completely immersing themself in their job. Some people just don't even think about making real friends at their work -- they think that people they meet at work are just 'collegues' and have no potential to be anything more. I've only had a few jobs, only being sixteen, but in all the places I've worked, the bosses have been like parents to me -- but then again, I am a very sociable person, and I strive to make friends no matter where I am -- maybe it's just the way I am?
@lucy02 (5017)
• United States
24 Jan 07
I think you are right about that. I am shy and I don't like mixing social and work too much.
• Canada
29 Jan 07
I know what you mean. I'm spending most of my time sitting infront of my computer just being part of the writen world. The last thing I want is a job at some impersonal facility where I'm made to feel like some sort of robot. I think you have been truly blessed in the experiences that you have had so far. Thanks for sharing them with us.
@Tarrish (562)
• United States
27 Jan 07
I've also always felt a close bond with the people I've worked with through the years. To be honest most of all my closest friends are those I've met while working my two jobs. I work at a theme park, and that's where I met my best friend. I also met all my exs at work, but let's not go there. ;) The people I live with I all met at my current job, and they're like family to me. While working at Blockbuster it also felt like my crew was part of my family. We worked so many late nights together I spent more time with them then I did my own family. That goes with my crew at Six Flags during summers. I pull 15 hour days during the summer six days a week so you see where I'm coming from. I don't see how your co-workers could just be like a stranger when you work with them, but maybe it's different in the corperate world. I wouldn't know. I guess I've just been lucky with meet co-workers I could share my life with, befriend, go to dinners with, go to their weddings, see their kids being born, and all that jazz.
@bonbon50 (659)
• United States
25 Jan 07
As a rule, we actually spend more time with our co-workers than we do family members. I, too, have worked with people that I considered family. We laughed and cried together. Sometimes I've stayed at a job longer than I normally would because I liked the people and didn't want to leave. As for 'keep work at work and private life private', I assume that means more as to not cross the physical bounderiess by becoming lovers with a boss or employee. This almost always creates trouble; you could be putting your job on the line.
@cyntrow (8524)
• United States
25 Jan 07
Frankly, I think that a person needs to feel close to his/her co-workers. I think it creates a less stressful work environment if you feel that you can come to work and be greeted by a friend. When I was having marital problems a few months ago, my friends at work were the people who kept me going. Face it, most people spend more time with their co-workers than with their families. Work should be and extended family setting. Otherwise it would be a miserable existance. Just my opinion.
@missyd79 (3438)
• United States
25 Jan 07
when i worked in the office on an everyday basises, i always considered my co-workers my friends, because i mean lets face it i spent the majority of my time with them, and we really cared about each. Now i work from home and yes i miss my co-workers/friends but i realised that my relationship with my son has gotten a little better.
@Bytemi (1553)
• United States
25 Jan 07
My feeling is that yes the professional thing to do is keep the two world separate, but I spend more waking our in my office than I do with my family and friends, so why can't it be both. I have friends at work that I eat lunch with, hang out with outside the office. I think it is important in a company to feel like you are part of family, that way you can avoid waking up and saying "Oh God, do I really have to go to work!". Life is short, but the most of it!
• United States
25 Jan 07
I have remained close to the people that I have worked with from my past job and from other jobs as well. We bonded and became a family. We told each other our problems, cried on each other's shoulders, and shared our joys. I have worked in other places where you were just an employee. I didn't stay employed long at these places.
@greengal (4286)
• United States
24 Jan 07
You are lucky to have had such experiences because as you already know, work life is never this good. I personally have never had such a good work environment and have kept personal and work life as separate as possible. Colleagues become good friends but many times things boil down to office,work or colleagues. It's difficult to carry on such good relations beyond the office. It's not impossible but a blessing only to some.
@sigma77 (5385)
• United States
24 Jan 07
To relate my experience, when I was a lot younger, I would do many things with co-workers. At one point, we had quite a group of people that partied together, and played together. I was working at a Kmart. There was always something going on every weekend. This lasted well over a year, until several people quit and moved on. I worked at one job for 22 years and over that span did numerous things with co-workers. Even after many of us got married, we still got together as couples. But, over the last ten years, I have worked a few jobs where there was no after work activities. It seems the older I have become, the less there is to do with co-workers. This might be the age difference where many workers are younger than I am. It does seem that people have so much more going on these days. I think it is great to work somewhere and actually be part of the family. Be thankful you have shared that kind of experience in your work life. It might not be so easy later in life.
@rosie_123 (6118)
24 Jan 07
I agree that it's good to get on with our work colleagues. We spend a lot of our time at work, so best keep the atmosphere as nice as possible to help the day go faster. Being miserable at work is a ghastly experience. However, I do think there's a line that shoulldn't be crossed.... to me relationships with a colleague at work are a real no-no, very messy and embarrasing for all concerned and when you break up one of you will almost certainly feel forced to leave the company (or at least move departments) to avoid seeing the ex everyday. I also think it's hard for a Boss to be too friendly with the staff, because that can cause undue pain and problems should that Boss ever have to discipline someone or if there are ever redundancies. So I would say - be pleasant, go for the occasional drink on a Friday evening after work together - but don't get too involved.
@funnysis (2619)
• United States
24 Jan 07
I think that a work place with co workers being friends does much beter then a place where they don't get along,I thought that it was common to be friends with the people you work with I always got along great with my bosses and my co workers we worked like a fine running machine as a team and got things done I think that is the only way is to be friends with co workers it is a great concept.
@sizzle3000 (3040)
• United States
24 Jan 07
I have worked retail most of my life. In retail the turn over of different employees is a very large number. Many years ago I worked for a company called Westernauto. This company was great. They sold auto parts and many other things. We had company loyalty so that ment that employees stayed longer. I developed a mother daughter relationship with my boss that has endure the test of tim. We started working together back in 1985 and are still friends to this day. I am sorry to say that now days there is no company loyalty and people do not stay long enough in one place to develope more than a cassual friendship. The other problem with friendship in the work place is when one gets promoted over the other. There can be animosity between the two people. The other thing is when you are in a supervisory posision and you ask that friend to do something and they don't you have problems. Most company's now days only care about making money. They don't care if you like each other only how well you make money for them. I also think that girlfriend/ boyfriend relationships are not good in the work place. Some times there is favoritism because of this relationship. Then when they brake up it is so hard to keep it out of the work place.
24 Jan 07
hi misskatonic. most of the places i have worked at in my lifetime i have made a few good friends but have never really socialised out of work hours except for the xmas party. this is not to say i am in anyway ignorant or unsociable but people usually keep themselves to themselves. i think it it is great that you feel safe at your place of work and have great friends and father figures that really care about you. i think that is what maybe the problem at many workplaces is that they are not very well treated at work and especially by the boss. it comes to the end of the day and all they want to do is go home and forget about anything associated with the workplace. do you see where i'm coming from? if alot more people had bosses and friends like you have i think many more would do the same things that you are doing. just my opinion!
@bonbon664 (3470)
• Canada
24 Jan 07
We are pretty close here at my workplace. We work 12 hour shifts, so, many days I'm with these people more than my family. We know a lot about each other, and care very much what happens in each others lives. We do keep the lives separate though, because like I say, we do see a lot of each other when we work, I don't want to see them again when I'm off. I'm a chatty person, and I can't imagine sitting in a cubicle not talking with anybody.