Are Your Work Mates Your Real Mates?

How intertwined are your work and professional life? Do you go for drinks after work with your office mates? Oh sure, we all want to make out like we love the people we work with and since we spend a great deal of our lives around them, it’s pretty essential for our survival, so we don’t totally lose it and go on an office rampage. But weather you’re genuinely friendly with work pals or just faking the funk to make it through the day, is it wise to buddy up with the competition?

See, that’s what we tend to forget – that are coworkers are in fact, our competition. So while it’s all fun and games while you’re pal-ing it up, what happens when promotion time rolls around? You may have been friends with the most genuine of reasons, but the other person may have been just gathering information to use against you. Did I just get a bit Bourne Identity on your ass?

Case in point: in a previous job I had, which I hated and didn’t really care about so probably isn’t the best example to use here but I’m going there anyway – they would have ‘socials’ once a month where everyone who worked in your district would get together. These things were compulsory, which already didn’t go down well with me because personally, I feel going home after work should be compulsory. As nice as my coworkers were, it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning to get there, nevermind have to keep up the pretense of actually enjoying that environment (a pretense which I barely kept up in the first place).

I say all that to say this: these ‘socials’ while yes, on some level, build a sense of teamwork, also blur the lines between work and life. Take away the desks and throw in a free bar and one could almost thinkĀ  you’re just hanging out with friends. On one particular occasion, an area manager, clearly reaping the benefits of the aforementioned free bar, was found towards the end of the night laying atop the bar allowing people to do shots from her chesticles. You cannot possibly expect me to take you seriously in a boardroom after I’ve seen that.

In this era of oversharing, it’s considered completely normal for work life and home life to blend. We’ll add all our colleagues on Facebook and think nothing of those hangover updates and embarrassing pictures. We’ll gladly let them follow us on Twitter and read our every mumbling thought. But whether you agree with it or not, employers are stalking Facebook pages of potential job candidates – how you conduct your everyday life has an impact on your work life and your online life is giving it all away.

There are those who don’t mind, or even actively encourage that work/life mix, but if you’re looking for career advancement, is it actually advisable to keep the two completely separate? One thing’s for sure, getting that work/life balance right is a balancing act indeed.

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