Quiet Quitting: Good or Bad?

In 2022, we all heard millennials speak of quiet quitting. So what exactly is this phenomenon sweeping the world? A phenomenon that spread on TikTok, quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than is necessary. As such, it is something of a misnomer, since the worker doesn’t leave their position and continues to collect a salary. In some places, soft quitting is used interchangeably with quiet quitting.

A 2022 Gallup survey suggested that at least half of the U.S. workforce, particularly those under 35, where this percentage is higher consists of quiet quitters, but these numbers are questioned and even if quiet quitting is a new trend or simply a trendy new name for worker dissatisfaction. In September 2022, a Harvard Business Review article observed that quiet quitters continue to fulfil their primary responsibilities, but they’re less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviours like not staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.

Beyond the workplace, the term quiet quitting is now being applied to nonwork aspects of people’s lives, such as marriages and relationships. The hashtag #QuietQuitting has now racked up more than 17 million views on TikTok and articles in print and online media worldwide have used the term and the noise has spread to Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Adult Gen Zers are big influencers on social media and about 60% say they post content they hope will change the world, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. Those aged 18-26 are the most worried about security, health, finances, social connections and keeping up with change, the Edelman survey of 36,000 people found. But workforce studies on the changing world of work support the rise of quiet quitting – and suggest it’s more than just a social media hashtag.

Quiet quitting is a way of dealing with burnout according to organisational behaviour experts. Burnout is a big risk in the workplace, especially amongst younger Gen Z professionals aged in their 20s, research shows. A survey of 30,000 workers by Microsoft showed 54% of Gen Z workers are considering quitting their job. In its 2021 Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum ranks youth disillusionment as eighth of 10 immediate risks. Findings include deteriorating mental health since the start of the pandemic, leaving 80% of young people worldwide vulnerable to depression, anxiety and disappointment.

COVID-19 has changed the world of work – and how seriously we take it. Twenty-something Gen Z workers, in particular, may have joined the world of work during the pandemic with all of its dislocating effects – especially remote working. This generation has also come of age amidst rising activism. More people are quitting 9 to 5 jobs to start their businesses or try non-traditional work like temporary work, gig or part-time roles. It also shows some are quitting to take a break or care for family, as remote working has removed boundaries for working or living overseas. Gen Z workers aged 18-24 years most value flexibility and meaningful work, while Millennials and Gen Xers aged between about 25 and 45 years are largely the ones trying self-employment and new types of work. Experts say the passion economy where people do more of what they love has heralded a new era of side hustles, in everything from craft to campaigning.

Does quiet quitting just affect young people? Workforce data from major organizations including McKinsey & Company suggests 40% of the global workforce is looking to quit their jobs in the next three to six months. The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so it’s no surprise that job satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, can significantly affect your life according to McKinsey. The 2022 State of the Global Workplace report from Gallup shows only 21% of employees are engaged at work. Living for the weekend, watching the clock tick and work is just a paycheck are the mantras of most global workers, according to Gallup. People are realising that work is not life and that one’s worth as a person is not defined by their job.

The reaction of managers to the phenomenon has been mixed. Some have been tolerant, in part because the tight labour market of recent years makes replacing quiet quitters difficult, at least for the time being. Others have responded to quiet quitting by quietly, or loudly, firing employees whom they see as slacking off. Quiet firing has become a buzz phrase in its own right, generally defined as making a job so unrewarding that the employee will feel compelled to resign.

Some experts have suggested that bosses should get tough on quiet quitting while others say they need to lighten up. Some experts advise managers to first examine their behaviour and check if this trend is a reflection of their leadership abilities rather than the person quiet quitting.

Quiet quitting may or may not be a bona fide trend or recent phenomenon. But it has called attention to what appears to be fairly widespread dissatisfaction that employers might need to address. Quiet quitting is not a life philosophy or policy proposal that needs logical scrutiny. It’s also not a political weapon to be wielded to prove how much more woke or conservative one is than everyone else. It’s both more incoherent and essential than all of that. Figuring out how work fits into a life well lived is hard, but it’s an evolution that has to happen. Quiet quitting is the messy starting gun of a new generation embarking on this challenge.

So what are your views on quiet quitting? I know it’s been around and many of us are also guilty of quiet quitting at some point or the other.

The Future of Work in a post-COVID World

When COVID hit in early 2020, the world was in shock, especially with the lockdowns and cities shut down. Workplaces became empty and many city centres which were dominated by towering skyscrapers filled with office spaces became ghost towns. COVID has dramatically changed the way we live and work and affected virtually every element of life.

COVID has been the most significant, and perhaps the most traumatic, experience of our lives. It will have a huge impact on us as individuals, as a society and as a workforce. And even when this crisis ends, things will never be back to normal. We will live in a completely different world and that will be the new normal.

The abrupt closure of many offices and workplaces ushered in a new era of remote work for millions and has shown a significant shift in the way a large segment of the workforce operates in the future. Most of those who say their work responsibilities can mainly be done from home say that, before the pandemic, they rarely or never teleworked. Very few could work from home all or most of the time, but today more than half of such people are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half say, given a choice, they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic.

While not seamless, the transition to working from home has been relatively easy for many with most of them saying it has been easy to instal the technology and get hold of the equipment to do the job. Most also say it’s been easy for them to meet deadlines and complete projects on time, get their work done without interruptions and feel motivated to do their work.

Many of us, especially those of us who are technologically challenged, had to adjust to new technologies and learn new ways of interacting with colleagues and friends. Zoom and other video conferencing apps became part of our lexicon and we learnt to find those corners at home which would not reveal the mess behind.

The idea of working at home in itself is not a new concept with many, especially those in the IT sector working from home is an old concept. I read somewhere that working from home or telecommuting has grown by as much as 173% since 2005 due to improvements in technology, innovation and communication. As a result, more than half of employees have a job where at least some of what they do can be done from home.  A 2019 Owl Labs report found that as many as 80% of employees wanted to work from home at least some of the time, before the crisis. Flexibility is one of the top-ranked work benefits amongst the millennial workforce and pre-crisis, more than a third of employees would go so far as to change jobs if they had the chance to work from home, whilst over a third would take a pay cut of up to 5% to work at home some of the time. Today, these figures will most likely have gone up.

Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak. Many companies have transitioned to hybrid work culture and many organisations have decided to reduce their office space. As a result of this demand for restaurants and retail in downtown areas and areas with a concentration of office spaces as well as for public transportation may decline as a result. And while working on this post, I decided to check on job sites and saw that now there are many full-time remote opportunities in sectors that traditionally did not offer it like IT. This means that in countries with smaller cities and rural areas, when people can work anywhere, reverse migration can and is taking place. I have heard of people moving out of the big Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru and going back to their hometowns so they can be with family and yet earn the income they were already earning. I remember reading an article about professionals renting large apartments in places like the seaside and the hills and with access to high-speed internet, they were able to have a much better lifestyle and standard of living.

Remote work has also put a dent in business travel as its extensive use of videoconferencing during the pandemic has ushered in a new acceptance of virtual meetings and other aspects of work. While leisure travel and tourism are rebounding, and are likely to rebound after the crisis, McKinsey’s travel practice estimates that about 20% of business travel, the most lucrative segment for airlines, may not return. This would have significant knock-on effects on employment in commercial aerospace, airports, hospitality, and food service. E-commerce and other virtual transactions are booming.

Many consumers discovered the convenience of e-commerce and other online activities during the pandemic. In 2020, the share of e-commerce grew at two to five times the rate before COVID-19. Roughly three-quarters of people using digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they will continue using them when things return to normal, according to McKinsey Consumer Pulse surveys conducted around the world. Other kinds of virtual transactions such as telemedicine, online banking, and streaming entertainment have also taken off including online doctor consultations. This shift to digital transactions has propelled growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs. In China, e-commerce, delivery, and social media jobs grew by more than 5.1 million during the first half of 2020.

Many companies deployed automation and AI to reduce workplace density and cope with surges in demand. Research finds the work arenas with high levels of human interaction are likely to see the greatest acceleration in the adoption of automation and AI. Hiring has also changed. Today, the default way of interviewing potential candidates is by video call when only a few months ago the default was face-to-face interviewing.

So what does this mean moving forward? It means that for employees, the chance to balance work and home will be important. Now that the world has shown that regular remote and flexible work can be productive without disrupting or undermining established ways of working, it will be the new normal going forward. A lot of people, especially introverts who do not need to showcase their gregariousness and be extroverts, can showcase their productivity and prove their mettle. There are already reports of the positive impact that more frequent, structured and focused communication is resulting in increased collaboration, teamwork and support. Now that more people have had a taste of it and proven their productivity, it will be hard for companies to take it away from their talent. A Gallup survey revealed that 54% of U.S. workers would leave their current job for one that allowed them to work remotely. And while professionals were celebrating their 30-second commute, it became clear to companies that the huge line item on their spreadsheets for real estate may not be the best way to spend their money. Having people work from home, even if it’s not everyone all the time, is proving to be profitable.

Flexibility will be the new mantra—where people will be given more freedom to choose to work from home. Some people missed the commute and cherished their in-person connections, so the new normal will be increased flexibility. Conference rooms, meeting spaces and video studios will take up a lot of office space with the workplace becoming a far more social environment, not a lock myself in the office scenario. It will be designed to foster and promote interaction and community engagement, taking advantage of the times talent is collocated in one place.

Many professionals found working from home a challenge not because of isolation, but because they didn’t have the ideal space or a dedicated home office. They didn’t have a Zoom-ready spot for video meetings. A study reports that the majority of survey respondents cited a lack of proper technology for remote work that hindered their success and productivity. One of the biggest challenges people experienced while working fom home was internet performance. According to a survery by WhistleOut, a company that provides information about mobile phone and internet services, 35% of adults who transitioned to working from home said that weak Internet has prevented them from doing their work at some point during the coronavirus crisis and 43% said they have had to use their phone as a hotspot during the crisis. Internet in homes will improve, and home offices and even home video studios will become a priority. As new homes are built or existing ones are remodelled, a home office will be the top priority for

Post COVID-19, e-learning will become a bigger part of ongoing learning. In-person learning won’t go away, but it’ll be reserved for certain functions and certain populations within the company. Face-to-face learning will likely be just a small element of a learning curriculum. Ramping up their e-learning platforms, companies moved quickly to ensure that their people were still building important skills and developing professionally.

Video is at the heart of many of the changes above. The developers behind Zoom, WebEx, Hangouts, Skype and other video communications tools made the grand work-from-home experiment possible. The video became fully integrated into the work experience in an astonishing variety of ways. As supervisors and staffers have gotten used to seeing each other in their natural habitats, the line that separates work life and personal life has faded. Ironically, technology has made this transition possible, but it has also led to a decidedly low-tech reality: this new corporate world has made us value our organic, non-robotic humanity more than ever before.

The shift to remote work led to the complete collapse of the work-home boundary, especially for parents juggling child care and homeschooling with job demands. Poorly timed or endless Zoom meetings interfered with people’s ability to get work done and sometimes harmed relationships with colleagues. At the same time, people, especially those with comfortable home offices and few parental responsibilities, found benefits in working remotely. Being on their own gave them greater control with fewer distractions. The absence of commuting gave people more time and energy while saving them money. People who had been working in unpleasant or hostile workplaces were now free from disrespectful encounters.

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in mental health issues. While this is in no way a positive outcome, it has resulted in businesses focusing more closely on employee’s mental wellbeing. Companies are doing more than ever to protect and promote positive mental wellbeing among teams; a trend that will continue even as the world returns to normal. People burn out because their employers have not successfully managed chronic job stressors.

The pandemic has taught many people that the job does not have to be the way it was. This realisation may be one reason that many are not going back to their old jobs. The workplace must change. So as we transition to a new normal of working, it is with the hope that many of these positive work outcomes such as a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing, more freedom and flexibility for employees and outstanding innovations will keep workforces happy and healthy while businesses will remain creative, responsive and successful.

Friends in the workplace – Yes or No

Friendships are beautiful and a good friend with whom you can vent and share problems and who listens without judging is invaluable. A workplace on the other hand is one which for many is fraught with pitfalls and because it’s a place where we spend the majority of our time, having a friend there may be good. But is having a work buddy something that one cultivates? Given the time we spend at work, it is inevitable that some sort of friendships at work will be formed.

It’s very natural to look for friends at work, and it’s necessary for professional success. Since we spend most of our time at work, and if we don’t like the people we work with, getting through the day becomes even more difficult. Happier and more productive days will happen if we enjoy the company of our colleagues. Workplace friends improve the good days and make the poor ones bearable. While being social at work will help raise morale and satisfaction, one must also set limits with friendly colleagues.

There’s a lot of evidence that workplace friendships fulfil a basic human need for companionship, and are necessary to some degree. Research has found that it can even fuel greater job satisfaction: In a survey of more than 195,600 employees in the U.S., Gallup found that 20% of them said they had a best friend at work. This was also the group that reported being most engaged and committed to their jobs. But workplace friendships can be tricky, especially between managers and employees, or senior and junior employees. In that scenario, there’s always going to be a power dynamic in play.

While being social can help boost morale and happiness on the job, one needs to set boundaries. Instead of striving for friendships at work, it’s better to be friendly with coworkers, according to some experts who say that ith professional relationships, one can grab coffee or lunch, but not necessarily invite them home for a barbecue or special family events.

Today’s workplace is different from a few years ago with remote work and social distancing making workplace interactions more difficult. Without meeting colleagues and co-working face-to-face, having close friendships will be slim and making work friends will mean an extra effort.

Having a good friend at work one can confide in and commiserate with can be a blessing and while work friendships can be a boon, they can also be a bust. The truth is that many of the work friends we have will end when the job ends. You may keep in touch for a couple of years or so, but over time, you tend to drift apart, because the biggest binder between the two, the company or organisation no longer exists. But there may be a few work friends who transcend the organisation to become true friends, but this is rare and quite far between.

A 2014 Globoforce survey found that people with workplace friendships are nearly three times more likely to say that they love their companies and two times less likely to be poached by another company. But in the throes of a new work friendship, sometimes it’s easier to forget that a work friend is a colleague first and a friend second. So one has to be a bit more careful about what is shared with them as it may come to bite you from behind.

So if you are making work friends or have friends in the workplace, here are some tips on how to deal with them.

Be mindful of oversharing – You may have to share personal information to make friends at work, but you should proceed with more caution than you would for non-work friendships. Remember to always keep it professional and respectful. Share on a need to know basis and be vague. Don’t be dismissive also but keep it professional. Sharing needs to be very nuanced and balanced because on one hand, forging deeper, more intimate relationships requires self-disclosure and vulnerability; on the other hand, if a work friendship spirals downward, the person can use personal or sensitive information against you. Whatever one shares with work friends, make sure you never dislose information that can create animosity, that is stigmatized, or that could get you fired.

Be mindful of the office hierarchy – Be very careful and know that at the end of the day, your boss or your manager is still in charge. Even if your workplace is very laid-back and your manager your age or even younger, they are still the boss and enforce workplace standards. You can be friendly with your manager or someone who manages but be careful about how your friendship affects your professional relationship and how it may be perceived by coworkers. Make sure that others don’t worry that there’s favouritism at play no matter how equitable things are.

Be mindful about confidentiality – You need to be careful about sharing anything with work friends that you’d like to keep secret from your boss. Even if a colleague assures you of their confidentiality, they may and in most cases will reveal your information if someone asks them or if they have a bone to pick with you at a later stage. Before sharing something with a coworker, ask yourself how much would you want others to know and only share what can be freely shared with everyone. And don’t ever write down anything that you don’t want to be saved for posterity. Remember, what happens on the internet, stays in the internet.

Be mindful about resolving disagreements – In every friendship, disagreements happen, but one should not let personal disagreement mess up professional relationships. Having negative relationships with co-workers is a huge predictor of quitting a job and these relationships can be distracting and de-motivating. So if a work friendship is on the rocks, handle it as calmly and professionally as possible, so you can either salvage the friendship or move on calmly, so it doesn’t impact your work life. Identify the source of the conflict and resolve it professionally. Do not spread gossip or rumors, do not try to get coworkers on your side, or cast your friend in a negative light with a supervisor.

Now that we’ve established how to deal with workplace friendships, let’s see what are their benefits. The benefits of work friends go far beyond having someone who is always willing to loan you their stapler. Research shows that employees who get super close with their co-workers are happier at work, more engaged, better with clients, do better work, and are less injury-prone. A Gallup reports that those without a best friend in the workplace have just a 1-in-12 chance of being engaged. When you find the right balance between personal and professional, you reap the rewards of friendships at work.

Finding a colleague you can be close with means having a go-to person to ask for advice and help. It can be less intimidating to ask a colleague for assistance than to run to your boss every time a minor issue crops up. This is an easy way to reduce the learning curve and get up to speed quickly in a new role. It also means having someone to chat with during the day. Companionship makes the work day pass faster. Having a friend you can gab with means you’ll even look forward to coming to the office. A work friend also increases a greater knowledge of the business and opportunities. If either of you leaves your job, you can be a reference to the other. Also, when both of you move on to different roles, your friendship can progress like a natural friendship, and/or you can keep an eye out for opportunities for one another.

Having friends at work can increase job satisfaction, performance, and productivity, research shows. But it should be treated with care and not become too close with colleagues. According to Gallup, getting a job BFF is one of the most significant factors in employee engagement and satisfaction. There is a concrete link between having a best friend at work, and the effort employees expend in their job. Those who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job. Women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged compared with the women who say otherwise.

According to Gallup, women who firmly believe they have a best friend at work are less likely to be actively searching for or monitoring job openings, are more associated with their colleagues, respect what is expected of them, and trust their honesty and ethics and are less likely to record a negative daytime experience, such as workplace stress or feeling tired.

Linkedin said having a friend at work boosts employee satisfaction, employee motivation, and productivity, particularly among your younger employees the ages between 18 and 24 as socialising and friendships are critical for moving up the career ladder, according to 1/3 of Millennials. They also found out that 51% of staff maintain contact with former coworkers, resulting in boomerang employees or increased turnover in poor environments.

When you form friendships with colleagues outside of your immediate teams or department, it pens up to sides of the business you wouldn’t normally be able to access. This can help create a more comprehensive understanding of what the company is working towards, and how other departments operate, reveal some of the organisation’s pain points, and help an organisation’s people grow by learning about and appreciating each other’s experiences.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to be friends with their coworkers, especially in super-competitive work environments. Some people will use even the slightest tidbit of information to get ahead, so before you begin to share important or personal details with someone, make sure you trust them implicitly. Similarly, social media is not an aspect of your life that you should share with everyone. While in the beginning stages of any work relationship or collaboration, you may not want to give a person access to your Facebook or Twitter pages. You should connect with colleagues on LinkedIn, however. The site was built for professional affiliations, so it would be more than wise to add a colleague, but hold off on giving colleagues access to any site that may house personal or social information. Oversharing details of your personal life and finances can come back to haunt you. Sharing personal details with a colleague who you thought had your back can also damage your career prospects if those details are used against you. Many companies are hierarchical, and when it comes to promotions or project assignments, close friendships can sometimes cause friction.

Friendships at work get even trickier for managers and their subordinates. Managers would not want to make it seem like they are giving one person an advantage or a pass for bad behaviour. Being considered too close with a coworker can reflect negatively on you if your friend isn’t viewed in high regard. You may be tarred by association and hurt assignment and project prospects, or prevent you from being included in confidential news if your peers fear it might be leaked to an untrusted colleague. When a work friend starts venting out too much, you run the risk of getting stuck in a negative cycle. Co-ruminating is the process by which friends repeatedly go over a difficult event or emotion. It brings us together and increases friendship satisfaction, but also decreases well being, kicks up a level of depression and anxiety. You need to watch out for that.”

Employee retention is more critical than ever. Another pandemic side effect has been what analysts call the Great Resignation, which in August 2021 saw 4.3 million workers quit their jobs. Even as the unemployment rate starts to even out, worker attitudes have shifted, and money isn’t enough to keep employees anymore.

Having friends at work can be the bright spot of your workday—as long as you take the proper precautions. Making friends at work is easy, and mostly good for you. Compartmentalising life into work and not-work is stressful and potentially unhealthy in the long term. By managing friendships in a professional setting properly, one can have more fun at work, learn to relax a little, and begin to learn things about themselves and the organisation they’re a part of.

What are your thoughts on having friends at work? Is it a yay or a nay? I’d love to hear from you, so please comment below.

The Good and the Bad: Boss Edition

It is often said people don’t leave bad organisations, but leave bad bosses. And this is so true. When coworkers get together, stories are bandied about bosses and rarely are good managers discussed, but the spotlight is mostly on bad bosses. Many bosses fall into the bad boss category because they fail to provide clear direction, regular feedback, recognition for contributions, and a strategic framework of goals that enable their employees to see their progress. These kinds of bad bosses are what are called generic bad bosses because all employees need these types of support and feedback, and they suffer when they don’t receive it.

I’ve had my fair share of bosses, both good and bad. In my first job, we were a very young team, all of us fresh out of school and in our first jobs. The company was also a fairly young one, but the management were not very young, they had about a decade plus experience and you could probably call them middle management. While we didn’t really really report to them, they oversaw our work. My expectations with managers and bosses are most likely influenced by how they interacted with us. They were friendly and fair and had an open office policy. But one thing really stands out for me and is something that has been a sort of guiding principle for me all these years.

The office was a split office, with us in the ground floor and the managers and finance people in level 2. Officially the office would end at 5:30 pm and at 6 pm, one of the bosses, lets call him D would come down to go back home and if he saw us around, we would have to have a good reason why we were still around. 90% of the time, we were around, because we were hanging out with each other. Except for one, none of us were married and had no responsibilities, so there was no pressure to get out of the office and go home.

When D saw us hanging around, not leaving the office, he would ask us why were still there and used to say something like this. I am paraphrasing this, but he would say that if you are staying late because you have too much work, then there could be two reasons for this. One because you have too much on your plate or two because you have not finished your work in the scheduled hours of work. In both cases, we should have a talk, because if you have too much work, then we need to figure out how to reduce your workload and if it’s the second reason, then we also need to talk about why you are not able to finish your work on time. This is something that has always resonated with me and I have always tried to be as productive as possible while at work and leave on time as much as possible.

Another manager who made an impact in my life was someone who was my manager for the longest period of time. I was also in this organisation the longest, for almost a decade and of the multiple managers whom I reported to, this one was the one I reported to the longest. He was fair, but had his faults, the biggest of which was playing favourites. While I was not a favourite, I was also on his dislike list and so I escaped some of the worst things he said to others. From him I learnt how not to play favourites, especially when hiring people for the organisation and to not enable them so much they they believed to be above all others. He used to catch up with us every time he passed through Singapore but died a few years back.  

The third manager was someone whom I reported to for less than a couple of years, but he was a peer in terms of age. A very supportive manager, he gave me more responsibilities when he saw I could handle them and also credit where it is due. I learnt a lot from him, especially on how to manage people as he was someone who was friendly with everyone and even learnt some of the finer points of office politics from him. Unfortunately after about two years of reporting to him, he was transferred to a different country, but we are still in touch.

The last manager I was to talk about was the most toxic one. I have written about this person previously and even today, years after I left the organisation, I still have nightmares about how they used to literally torture me there. I can now think about them without my heart palpitating and getting stressed out, but it took me many years to get there.

Bosses are just like people, there are good ones and bad ones. A good boss or manager will set clear expectations from their subordinates, coach and give feedback, is inclusive and recognises efforts made by those reporting to him, knows his reportees, especially their talents and what they are good at and most importantly is there for them and takes a stand when it is needed.

A bad boss on the other hand, is everthing but what a good boss is. A boss is the umbilical cord that connects employees to an organisation, and if that cord is damaged, the employees will eventually leave. So if you are one of the lucky employees who has a great boss, don’t take that relationship for granted and show your boss how much you appreciate them.

Lessons I learnt from the Corporate World

We have been spending some time recently talking about work and the working life, especially since GG & BB will start their six-month industrial attachment next year and I thought that some of what we discussed could be of use to others, especially someone who is either just entering the corporate space or are a few years in and want to succeed in their careers.

In no particular order, here’s what I have learnt:

  • Be good to those below you more than those above you. Treat everyone with the respect you expect from them for yourself. Be nice to everyone, you never know when you are being judged.
  • Be careful when you work with friends, it may sometimes end badly
  • Keep your opinions about others to yourself and never share it with anyone else at work
  • Don’t Gossip! Especially in the pantry and public spaces, you never know who could be listening
  • Office politics is a fact of life and you can’t escape it. Learn to play the game
  • Network, network and then network some more. As you grow in your career, your networks will become more and more useful and informative.
  • Make your boss look good. That’s the key to success because they are the only ones who will battle for you and promote you. Make sure you know what your boss needs to accomplish and do your best to help them accomplish it.
  • Document everything! Your wins, commendations, compliments and learnings.
  • Train someone else to do your job and do it well. Because if you are irreplaceable in your position, you will never move up because there is nobody else to do what you are doing and doing best.
  • Any organisation you work for is not running a charity, they are here to make money and you have also been hired for that reason. You are hired because you have something that the organisation needs and any employment is a two-way process, one where both parties benefit.
  • Be reliable, be punctual and if you give someone a deadline, make sure you stick to it and in fact try to finish your work before the deadline.
  • Under promise and over deliver. It’s very simple actually. If you think you need 2 days to get a task done, ask for three days. This way, you have an extra day for any unforeseen circumstances that may come up and you are prepared and if all goes well, you get the task done ahead of your deadline, making you look super-efficient.
  • Become friends with all the secretaries, PAs and other co-ordinators. They will help you in tight spots and are also a good source of information that may not be found elsewhere.
  • Stay calm, cool and collected even if you are a withering mass inside. Be like the swan who looks calm and placid above the water, but is furiously paddling below it.
  • Leave your emotions at the door when you enter your place of work. Always think twice when you send emails or make phone calls when you are angry or upset. One tip I use during these times is to type your email first without typing in the email address and keep it aside for a while. Then when you are in a better frame of mind, edit the email, add the email address and send it.
  • Be well-dressed at work. Stand out, but not in the wrong way. If your work environment is conservative, then don’t wear outlandish clothes and vice-versa. Discreet jewellery, perfume and clothes which are classic will be better than fast fashion.
  • You are your own brand, so everything you do, say, write, dress, behave showcases the brand. So, create the brand that resonates with your work environment and maybe a couple of steps above your current role and stay true to your brand image at all times.
  • Have a life outside the office. You are not just a corporate drone, you should and must have a life outside of work. Have a hobby and do something that is totally unrelated to what you do at work.
  • Ask and encourage feedback from your managers because sometimes there may be something that you don’t see, but someone more experienced may instantly see.
  • Share successes, especially when you work as a team. When you do this, you let others share the glory and they will feel part of the successful project. Also, it never helps to have people think positively about you and your ethics. Giving others a chance to claim credit is an easy and effective way to magnify results.
  • Never stop learning. Every opportunity, good or bad teaches you something, even if it is what not to do, so don’t stagnate and become too comfortable in your job.
  • Always look at the bright side, and the positive side of things. Don’t get bogged down by pessimism. When days, weeks or even months are difficult, take heart and the hardest times will pass.
  • Focus on what you do best and try to compensate for your weaknesses. Nobody is perfect and everyone has some areas they are not good at, so amplify your strengths and work on the weaknesses.
  • Procrastination is something all of us are prone to, but procrastination has clear repercussions in the workplace resulting in challenges such as falling behind tasks. So, make sure you have clear daily goals which you tick off before you start slacking.
  • Failure is not the death kneel of your career. You will fail and multiple times in your career, but don’t stress about them. With no mistakes, there would be no opportunity to learn. Every failure gives you the chance to grow both personally and professionally.
  • Speak up. In meetings, in discussions and anyplace where you may have some input. This is not the time to be shy and refrain from speaking. If you have something to add to the discussion, make sure you put your point across. It may not be accepted, but for every ten points you put across, maybe one will be the one that is what was needed. But also ensure that when you speak, you understand what is being said and don’t speak illogically and nonsense.
  • Proactively seek new responsibilities, but only if you can handle. Conversely, don’t take up anything and everything that is thrown your way. Learn to say no to those above you if you are unable to manage or are hitting way above your weight and expertise.
  • Learn that everyone is expendable. If you don’t go to work, your organisation will not shut down, they will move on. But if you are not around, your family will be extremely affected and will find it very hard to move on. So don’t prioritise your job over your family.
  • Never burn bridges. You never know when you may have to go back to someone you have fought with, bad-mouthed or just generally been unpleasant to. People remember and will take their revenge when its their turn.
  • Work hard when you are at work, and when you leave the office, try to turn off. Most importantly have fun doing what you are doing and the eight or nine hours you spend at work won’t feel very long.
  • Stay two steps ahead. No matter what we do, success is less about any given moment and more about the next. Learn to anticipate what your manager or customer needs before they know how to ask for it and that’s one of the quickest ways to distinguish yourself in the workplace. Take initiative and don’t wait around to be told what to do, but at the same time, don’t make any assumptions, either.
  • Don’t take anything personally. Be professional, even when you think someone is out to get you.
  • Don’t trust anyone, especially at work. Everyone is looking out for themselves and a someone you consider a friend can easily throw you under a bus to save themselves. And at the same time, there’s a well know saying which is apt here to keep your friends close and enemies closer and is 100% true in a corporate setting.
  • Listen more and speak less. We have been given two ears and a mouth for a reason. So listen more than you speak and actually listen instead of rehearsing what you are going to say. At the same time, pay attention to what is happening around you and you will never be caught off guard.
  • Never betray anyone’s trust. Keep other people’s secrets as well as your own, and don’t share information that was given to you in confidence
  • Keep your social media to your social circle. Don’t ever add your co-workers and bosses to your social media platforms. You wouldn’t want them to know what is going on in your life which can give them ammunition to hurt or harm you. This doesn’t include LinkedIn as that is a work social platform.
  • Be flexible. Have an opinion, but don’t have hard opinions.
  • Don’t run after money. No doubt having money in the bank and being financially independent is important, but don’t let money dictate what you are in life and what you want to do in life. Let money be an accessory, not the focus.
  • Go the extra mile. Nobody ever achieved success by doing the bare minimum. Go above and beyond and you will be rewarded in one way or another.
  • Last, keep your goal in front of you and remember that whatever you do, you need to be true to yourself

So, there you have it, 40 lessons I learnt while in the corporate world. I am going to share it with BB & GG and their friends. Hope this was useful to you too. If you have more lessons from the corporate world, please share in the comments below.