Why Everyone Who Works In An Office Complex Should Meet Their Neighbors
For this past Valentine’s Day, our office tried something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Let me set the stage here really quick. Our office complex is relatively small in comparison to downtown Austin’s high-rise buildings. It’s only two-stories, office spaces encircling a lovely little fish pond in the very center of the complex. This makes it pretty inevitable that no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will run into people from other offices on your way in and out of your own office. When this happens, we nod, and smile, and say hello, and then walk right past each other to begin our workdays.
Does this sound like your office too? Has that ever struck you as odd, how often we walk by the same people everyday and yet never actually take the time to officially meet them? We all understand. We’re going to work. We have a day, likely kids to pick up, schedules to keep, clients to appease, families to get home to. Or in my case video games to beat . . . Anyway, we don’t have time to invest in people from other offices . . . right? Well, I’m going to call it for what it really is. We can’t be bothered. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that it takes additional effort we, for one reason or another, are not willing to fork out when the opportunity arises to meet another office. Those of us at Motoza were guilty of this like everyone else.
So we had this idea to actually set aside time to go around and meet our office mates. We used Valentine’s Day as an excuse, put together bags of candy, introduced ourselves on Valentine’s cards, and then walked around to each office in our complex to meet everyone and wish them a happy Valentine’s Day. Let’s just say it made everyone’s day, and put smiles on so many faces. After all, who is going to turn their nose up at a bag of candy?
It was a simple gesture, but it went over so well, that it got me thinking: why is this not the norm? Why don’t more offices take the time to do things like this? After we made our rounds, meeting all of our office neighbors, I discovered a few pretty good reasons why I think this every office should do something like this:
- When you are wrapped up, day in and day out, with your work, frustrated with your clients, exhausted from so many full days, it helps to remember that you’re not alone. So many of us share the “work experience” these days, that it’s surprising we don’t come together about it more often. Oh sure, we network, trying to sell our services to other companies, but do we bond over just the concept of being in the workforce together? Do we build each other up because we know what it’s like to work hard for our families? Do we support other companies simply because they are run by people just like us, and we’re all just doing the best we can? For once, can’t we just talk to each other and bond over work as Americans, instead of constantly thinking about “what’s good for my business”?
- If you start making friends at other offices, it creates a community. Community is something incredibly difficult to establish when you are work all the time. So . . . why not make the people at work your community? Once again, support and encouragement to get through the day can go a long way for all of us. Not to mention such additional friendships provide more incentive to want to go to work every day. It’s like a party! Sort of . . .
- I don’t know about you, but I love learning about what other people do, what they specialize in, and how they got into it in the first place. This is a natural topic of conversation when you’re at work because . . . well, you’re at work. You never know when you’ll learn about an industry that makes you ask yourself “where has this been all my life?”
- Meeting the people behind common services (think massage therapist, dentist, plumber, insurance agent, etc), and getting to know how the business side of it works may just ease up your harsh opinions of them when you need that service. I’ve always been an advocate for perspective, and if you understand the other person’s perspective, you’ll be less inclined towards anger when you get a larger bill than you expected, or when complications arise on the job. Frankly, this kind of perspective, I think, makes us better people.
So here’s my challenge to my fellow Austin professionals: go meet your neighbors. Go make a point of stopping on the wrong floor one day before work, or go eat your lunch where you know the office next door likes to eat theirs. Austinites are the masters of startups. Why not start up a conversation? Why not start up a community?