How many companies have you encountered that refer to their workforces as being “like family?” Phrases like “We’re family here.” “We have each other’s backs.” “It’s a comfy atmosphere around here, kinda homey – you know, like family!” How many business transactions are done in this day and age with a handshake. A handshake and someone’s word used to be their bond, all you needed to do business in good faith. The world has changed.
While the intent of these statements is certainly well-meaning, it is not a good idea for a company to strive to be ‘like family.’ It’s a lovely sentiment, so why not? Families live in homes. While Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz passionately maintained “there’s no place like home,” there’s a reason WORK is WORK and HOME is HOME. Consider what you left at home as you arrived at work today. Dirty dishes in the sink? Bed made? Underwear on the floor? Answering machine full of messages? It’s really no one’s business but your own. That’s the point.
Your home was created to be a soft place to fall, a place of respite, a place you call your own where YOU rule and are totally free to be and do what you wish. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where your focus is on yourself and the people you love.
Workplaces are meant to be in order providing services and meeting needs, outwardly focused. Companies are tightly interrelated to other businesses and linked to economic responsibilities and accountability. Workplaces, public and private companies, corporations, non-profits, even FAMILY-OWNED businesses come under a multitude of laws and regulations not applicable to hearth and home. Certainly pitching in to help colleagues with the workload is a great thing. Teamwork and group synergy can be your best competitive edge. But beware of turning a blind eye because you feel like ‘family’ and ‘have each other’s backs’. There are boundaries that, if not maintained could put your job and livelihood in jeopardy for a number of workplace infractions. We’ve all heard “familiarity breeds contempt.” How many times did you hear your parents say, “Gee, I hope my children act better in public than they do at home!” Do you treat your spouse and children in the same way as your colleagues? We’re allowed to let our guards down at home. If, in the workplace you are THAT relaxed and close-knit, there are likely a number of areas that are being overlooked or ignored with a direct impact to the bottom line.
More boundaries are required in the world of business, not only to protect the business but to protect employees. How do you DRESS at home? Do you look like a shlulmpadinka? (Look it up.) Do you stay in PJ’s all day? Are you generally found wearing boxers and a t-shirt? Fuzzy slippers? Sweats? How’s the hygiene? Again, it’s totally no one’s business but your own. That attire is totally unsuitable in a professional setting. Personal is personal. Professional is professional. See Brutal Business, Hey! It’s Business! and Hey! It’s PERSONAL!
Dorothy was right. “There IS no place like home!” Keep it that way!
~From the desk of Becky Morlok~
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