The blue versus the white.

It might have been a result of my first job being overly hands-on, but I noticed people who worked exclusively in white collar jobs held a slightly different mindset on work, compared to the principles I was schooled in. Of course, it could be the fact that I had a very good mentor who taught the right ideals, but life is frustrating when the world I live in clashes with the rules I believe in. Time is wasted, things do not get done.

How different? For starters, office politics. I’ve observed that life in the office inevitably results in idle chatter and gossip; some of it harmless, some of it negative – I call it backstabbing. If you have something to say, say it to the person in their face and give constructive feedback. Why start with the fake snarky smiles, the sneaky talk behind someone’s back and all the scheming to get ahead with the “every man for himself” mindset? Where exactly is the teamwork, the team spirit?

I sometimes think etiquette is overrated, and we should just reduce it all to one single rule: If there’s a problem, you guys need to sit down and talk. Everyone else, eff off. Problem not solved? Keep talking and work the problem out.

Obviously there are exceptions to this, but it feels like the office has a tendency to breed unhealthy and selfish relationships more than productive ones, simply because the company never treats two employees exactly the same. Different salaries, different perks, different roles, different tasks, different KPIs and so on. If you do not look out for yourself, no one else is going to do so.

There’s always your manager of course, but we know the top reason people quit their jobs – it’s more often than not, the manager. Not everyone is suited to a managerial role, but few workplaces profile the worker when it comes to promotion. Hence, shitty managers.

How about the actual work? I like to think that the blue collar emphasises a workman-like mentality on getting the job done. That’s the job, let’s go get it done period. The white collar however, seeks to protect the self. There is a wariness of doing more work than what is required, and a constant need to clarify job boundaries. Granted this is a consequence of bastards in the corporate environment (refer to earlier point), but this unceasing urge to draw the line kills productivity. It cuts both ways. If you do extra without griping, you lose your life, the company wins. If you keep drawing those lines, the company loses, and you turn into a whining cynical bastard whose sole purpose in life revolves around an overwhelming need to not do too much work.

I like to think of work as “getting it done”. If you are here to work together with other people to get something done, you’d better damn well be helping each other.

Out in the field, you’d be damn sure your workmates have got your back, otherwise work is going to be tough for everyone. Like shit up your head tough. There’s no desk to hide behind, no emails to be sent, no meetings to attend. Everyone is together, it’s do or die. If it works, your job is done. Otherwise, it’s not. If you’re an electrician, you don’t lay the carpet. If it’s two of you at the job, you two better get the job done or stay back together. It’s as simple and clear-cut as that.

When all is said and done, I much prefer working on the site over a deskbound job. The corporate environment –especially large offices– is unhealthy. Say what you want about the perks and so on, but I’m a simple kind of guy. My role is to get the job done, and you pay me for it period. Any kind of waffling in between is either a nuisance or a necessary evil that has to be tolerated.

I like clean, simple lines. If there’s a problem, I ask why, and we get to the source right away and fix it. If you want to tell me your needs so that I can tell someone else in exactly the same words about your problem so that he can fix it, that’s a waste of time right there. Talk to the guy yourself, seriously. Problem, solution – the end. Sorry but I’m not a human walkie talkie, technology has come up with enough innovations to do the job.

End of rant for today.

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