Monday, February 05, 2007

Smiling Happy Workers

As a consultant, I get the rare opportunity to visit many different office environments. Most these days are pretty much the same business-casual nine-to-fivers.

There are extremes in everything, as in offices. I went to one office where blue jeans, t-shirts and even flip-flops were the norm. At this particular software gaming company, the vice-president I met with was in not only blue jeans and a t-shirt, nope – that wasn’t good enough for him. He just so happened to have a white t-shirt with a cartoon-like fist, and the middle finger was extended in the . . . ah, shall we say not in such a nice way.

Then there are the big greedy banks, with their three-piece, pin-striped suits, ties and polished shoes. If this were the roaring twenties, you’d swear Al Capone would walk by any moment.

Interestingly enough, clothes do make the man – or women in our equally represented work world. I’ve found those places that are so laid back anything fashion-wise goes, have the same attitudes towards business. While those stuck in stiff, uncomfortable suits and ties are more stuck-up and less likely to make those around them feel welcome.

The best places to work are definitely the business-casual ones. Not too far one way or the other.

Though I must say, at lot comes from the top down at any company. If the presidents, vice-presidents, directors, managers and other higher-ups treat their subordinates like they are lucky to be there, then the work atmosphere is one of distrust, over-competition, and visitors feel awkward at best.

However, the place I’m currently on contract is showing a smiling happy work force – one might even say they glow with glee.

My current contract has landed me in a business-casual environment, with the usual middle-road atmosphere. However, something is different – everyone really likes being at work.

I was taken around the office by human resources and by the manager I’m working with. On both tours, everyone was very jovial and exceptionally happy to be there. It was like a page out of one of those idiot books, something like “Running a Happy Office for Dummies,” or something like that.

I was very impressed and look forward to working on-site with these happy workers more often. It isn’t every day you talk to someone who really likes who they work with and where they work. Almost everyone has something to complain about when water cooler chit-chat and office politics enter the mix.

Not here – this place probably has office politics and the occasional office gossip. But they don’t let it affect their attitudes – they were very warm, friendly and very positive.

Of course this was my first day with this client – who knows what tomorrow will bring?

However, having been in and out of many offices – I’d say this company is off to an amazing start.

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