Rumour Mongers

SINGAPORE: “Just because your office is all about ‘team spirit’ and ‘we’re like family’, doesn’t mean you should get too cosy, understand?” an online user warned others in an online forum on Sunday (Jan 28).

“So here’s my story… I was working at this small kaki lang (‘my own people’) company, always talking about how we all should be like best buds. But let me tell you, when push comes to shove, some of these ‘friends’ can backstab you without thinking twice,” he wrote.

“I’m not saying you should be aloof or act blur like sotong, but hey, (it’s) better to have your own gang outside of work, in a place where office politics (don’t) play a part,” he added.

“Office colleagues can never be friends”

A handful of online users responded to the post, backing up the writer.

“If a company says the employees are like family, run for the hills,” wrote one.

“The companies that do that will take advantage of you on the pretext that family should help each other. But would never do the same for you. They’d work you to the bones and expect you to help out the “family” whenever and however. Hate it when employers do that. It’s wild they can lie through their teeth like that.”

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Another shared, “From my personal experience, environments that always self-announce ‘we’re like a family’ are not really true and hiding their toxic/political players inside. Environments that feel like family usually (don’t) self-announce themselves.”

“Spend time with family but not in (the) office,” said a third, going so far as to say, “Office colleagues can never be friends.”

Toxic Effects

According to the Harvard Business Review, branding a workplace as “family” can have toxic effects.

Not only can it blur the line between personal and professional boundaries, but it can even foster an exaggerated sense of loyalty, making employees more prone to doing things that are unethical to keep their positions secure.

Furthermore, because everyone has a different relationship with their own family members, there are many ways this could cause conflicting power dynamics in the workplace. This, in turn, could also foster a lack of empowerment.