Friday 23 February 2018

Are you working with David Brent?

Lorna Hogg on why we're becoming less tolerant of our work colleagues

'I don't live by the rules you know': Ricky Gervais stars as David Brent in The Office
'I don't live by the rules you know': Ricky Gervais stars as David Brent in The Office

Lorna Hogg

Are you working alongside the Nightmare Colleague today? The person who invariably comes in late for work or meetings? The worker who brings vomiting bug into the office, rather than lose a sick day? The one who leaves smelly crisp rubbish on the next desk, or overloads the fridge with grocery shopping? Or has David Brent moved offscreen from The Office straight into yours?

A report from over 2,000 managers for the UK Institute for Leadership and Management, (ILM) has found that we're becoming less tolerant of our colleagues and their habits. In fact, some are so irritating that they're joining the list of daily stressors.

As we spend more time at work, it has become like a second home, and a stressful one. Charles Elvin, CEO of the ILM, points out that because we're now in closer proximity with our colleagues for longer, trivial irritations can grow disproportionately and cause upset and real resentment.

The solution could simply be some old-fashioned consideration for others and office etiquette.

Simply saying hello and goodbye to colleagues or enquiring about the weekend improves relations, as does giving thanks for a job well done.

However, while showing some love for your colleagues may improve office relations, cutting down on stress is a tougher task. The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has found that work is the main source of stress for a third of adults.

According to Shane Kelly of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the domino effect, from fear of job loss, increasing work pressure, financial problems and the prevailing sense of pessimism, can eventually affect health.

Stress can also cause catastrophising – imagining the worst result in a situation, which in turn adds to our stress levels.

With all that office pressure, and the only exit via the dole queue, it's hardly surprising that some workers switch off, sometimes literally. A new survey from US academics found that some people spend could be between 60-80pc of their working day on web surfing that has no relevance to their job.

If you can still spend time looking at that cute kitten on YouTube while catching up with some social networking it may not last.

About 69pc of British companies have banned Facebook. Clever software such as RescueTime can also track the programmes and sites your computer is using. However, any 'naming and shaming', or banning sites can be seen as treating workers like children, and may be counterproductive.

Shane Kelly agrees. "It's almost an unwinnable battle, as some will just use other technology, like their phones. It's much better to engage with people and see what you can do for a happy resolutions.''

Or perhaps just settle for resolutions. After all, if the office is set to become our second home, we'll have to learn to get along with a new set of in-laws.

Irish Independent

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