Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The office = democracy

If you've never worked in an office, a largish one (i.e., not just a couple of people), you missed out on something. I've always thought "the office" is democracy in action.

Everyone is considered equal at work. Sure there are job rankings, higher titles, chains of command. But there is a notion in offices that everyone is to be treated the same way: respectfully. (I'm talking about decent offices in this post.) This makes for strange bedfellows because you end up with people from all walks of life, with varying levels of intelligence, knowledge and good/evilness, all interacting on a level playing field.

In the office, workers are equal and there is only one rule: you have to do your work. That's it. Do this and you're in -- possibly for life. As a result, people who would never ever speak to each other in the real world, interact on a daily basis and get to know each other. That's magical and so American.

I wonder, does this democracy of the office still exist? Or are people so divided these days that it's war at work too? So much has changed in America. And so I ask you, is civility still the norm at offices? I hope so. I learned a lot as one of 350 people working in an office. I met some wonderful, intelligent, creative people and some really dreadful ones. It was a trip and I liked it.

So tell me: is office life still democratic?