As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Team Days and the Demise of Professionalism

Being made to spend time with your colleagues is equivalent to being force fed beetle larvae. Sure you'll do it if you are on the brink of starvation but left to your own devices, you would probably prefer to dine on foie gras. No amount of paintballing, go karting, pottery painting, or wicker basket weaving will ever help to convince you that the sweating bedlamites you share an office with are any more worthy of your friendship than the spider you so gleefully flush down the toilet. In light of these inherent shortcomings, the Daily Grindstone asks why the team day continues to cast a gloomy shadow on our working lives.

The team day is your employer’s half-hearted attempt to generate a happy and productive working environment. It is not enough for you to simply turn up each day at 9am, you must also love your company and your colleagues like you would your own child. Whilst your contract makes no mention of this expectation, failure to warmly embrace your boss as they recount each glorious detail of their boyfriend's marriage proposal will receive the same level of disapproval as Mel Gibson turning up at a 13 year old's bah mitzvah. Since most team days aims to ease the transition from 'strangers who speak' to 'potential life partners,' it is ironic that so many should involve activities designed to inflict pain.

Seeing as I have never been in a battle zone, I can only assume that were I to shoot somebody in the face, it would be unlikely to strengthen the bonds of our friendship. So why is it that encouraging workers to shoot each other in the face with paint pellets has grown such a reputation for improving work relationships? Some would argue that working out tension in the safe environment of a paintball course may help to promote greater social cohesion, but I cannot help but wonder whether encouraging employees to act out a fantasy for executing their colleagues, may just inspire them to...well...execute their colleagues. The line from paintball gun to .44 Magnum is easily crossed when you have endured yet another morning of your workmate hammering at their keyboard like a navvy laying railway track.

If the team day cannot inspire you to discard a lifetimes worth (or so it feels) of contempt for your fellow worker, what can it hope to achieve? In days gone by the hostility you feel would have gone by the name of "professionalism." As the workplace attempted to emulate the touchy-feely air of a sitcom coffee house, professionalism was forced out of the door like a 65 year old office clerk. The team day is part of a monstrous attempt to camouflage work in the robes of a cheery evening out with your friends. If you can be persuaded to enjoy your colleagues company, you may just be persuaded to enjoy your menial job. Fight back against this ridiculous trend, turn down the invite to attend a company 'chat and bake' evening, and hoist up the flag of professionalism. You are not paid to like your co-workers!

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