So one thing the recent run of news headlines and social events has me thinking about is how I act at work.
I would argue I am hardly inappropriate - although to be fair, I probably have not been as well behaved as I should have been (we can always do better). But I fear we are rapidly approaching the day where almost anything can be construed in an unfortunate manner.
So to wit, how should anyone - male or female - now act at work?
I do not know that I have all the answers. I do have some suggestions though.
1) Interactions at work need to be about work: Limit your talk to work related items. Personal things, such as perhaps what you did this weekend or even how your child is doing, might be okay - but I would not recommend it. Even those innocuous sorts of conversations may eventually lead to something else. If only work is being discussed, you never have to remember what else you talked about.
(One potential question here is what, if any, personal effects one should have in the workplace. This is another thing I have been evolving my thinking on. Over time, I am dropping down the number of personal items I have at work. I anticipate having virtually nothing of a personal nature in the not too distant future).
2) When at work, work: Do not talk. Do not socialize. Work.
3) Any sort of physical contact, of course, is right out: Arguably, shaking hands upon meeting someone for the first time (and upon their leaving) will probably remain a business norm (although I wonder if the Asian custom of bowing comes into vogue. No risk of contact at all). Beyond that, I cannot think of reason - beyond, say, someone choking - that such a thing would be necessary.
4) Discussions need to be in the open: Ideally, have meetings with a glass window or door so that you are visible at all times. If in a group meeting where this is not possible, say as little as possible. Taking notes is not a bad idea either.
5) Do not take work outside of work: There is a high risk that happy hours and parties - really, anything involving alcohol and coworkers - ends uncomfortably or badly. Friends and family are for weekends and evenings and holidays, coworkers are for work. (I suppose one question arising out of this would be if you can have friends that start as work acquaintances and grow out of that. 20 years of industry experience tells me no. In this day and age, work friendships seem to revolve a great deal more around proximity than truly shared interests. Sure, you may continue to connect through social media or business organizations and wish each other Happy Birthday when prompted by Facenovel. But it is the rare person I talk to two years after leaving a job, let alone fifteen.).
Looking at the list, you might come to believe that what I am proposing is a sort of monastic, silent worker that speaks as minimally as possible and creates a workplace that is somewhat joyless and soulless. I do not know that that is quite what I am thinking of - after all, even in the most serious of environments there is some level of "fun" involved. But I think, at least for myself, I am going to end up becoming a lot more like this. For two reasons:
1) It is just more efficient and accomplishes more work.
2) It eliminates any potential weakness for future accusations (never create a weakness for an enemy).
I am sure that for whomever implements such protocols as these (or for some event things more drastic), questions will inevitably arise about why I am acting this way or if I even have a personal life and family.. My response - the only logical response - has to be "I keep my work life and my personal life completely separate".