This past weekend my daughter went on a ski weekend with several of her close friends. Those friends also happen to be her coworkers. The group included my daughter and her spouse, two other couples and two women all of whom work at the same small school. For these young people and many others like them the issue of getting to know the people you share your office with is almost a foreign concept. They know each others’ hopes and dreams as well as their relationship problems and favorite breakfast foods. This sort of familiarity can make the workplace a much more enjoyable place to be: my daughter says that she looks forward to going to work in the morning to catch up with her friends and certainly working with one’s spouse means that there is never a lack of dinnertime conversation topics.
Having a highly social workplace, however, can be fraught as social groups evolve and some people end up on the outskirts. Sometimes these groups evolve as a result of age or life stage and sometimes simply because of common interests or personalities. Social segmentation happens in every context from schools to neighborhoods but should they be playing out in the workplace? In the workplace people are already broken up into groups depending on their position in an organization and the type of work they do. Does it do more harm than good when those groups are further subdivided into the people who are invited on a ski weekend and those who are not?
How do you balance socialization with inclusivity in the workplace? Do you think it is a good idea to become close friends (or even marry) your coworkers or do you think you should keep those areas of your life separate?
Note: I plan to close the poll (located on the left sidebar) on what gets you out of bed in the morning next weekend so vote now if you haven’t already!