Office Supplies and Dominance Hierarchies

When I started my first corporate job, two of my mentors who had a tendency to contradict each other, gave me the same piece of advice “Don’t dip your pen in the company ink”. This is a piece of very simple advice that helps protect a man who is about to enter a corporate environment for the first time. Back when I finished college prior to the Victorian Moral Panic that has swept across Universities in the last few years, you got used to mixing business with pleasure on a near constant basis. This is actually a major difference between school and work, as throughout your schooling there is really no clear-cut distinction between work-life (school) and private life (outside of school).

The distinction between work-life (corporate) and home life (outside of corporate) was a very clear-cut distinction for many years, that grew from the industrial revolution. Back when most people worked in agriculture, or hunting/gathering prior to that, there was no real split between “work” and “leisure”, because most days would be a mixture of both. With the industrial revolution came the factories, you came in the morning, left when the bell rang and came back the next morning. This was also the structure of more “white collar” professions, you came in at a set time in the morning, left at a set time in the afternoon or evening.

However, with the advent of the computer age, this has gradually changed. As constant connectivity has become ubiquitous, the line between work and not-work has been slowly worn down. Most modern corporations expect the employees to go the extra mile, for instance coming in on weekends, evenings and even to pull all-nighters in order to make deadlines. When you add in events such as Christmas parties, team-building events, conferences, travel schedules, and various other things, many employees may spend 50 – 70 hours a week in the office in some capacity, plus work from home, spend time together outside of normal work hours and normal work environments, therefore its unsurprising that the personal and business bleed together over time.

It’s also no great surprise that 38% of workers who were surveyed admitted to dating someone they worked with at some point of their career. 28% dated someone further up in the company hierarchy, and a whopping 18% admitted to dating their boss [1]. Women were more likely to date their boss with 35% of women who had dated someone at work (compared to 23% of men), dating up in the hierarchy. Continue reading