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Friendships in the IT Workplace? 790

Greg Cantori asks: "We've seen stuff like this on TV and in movies. Policemen, Firemen, Astonauts, Army guys, etc, all gathered round a BBQ on a sunny weekend, chugging a few cold ones and maybe talking shop, wives and girlfriends preparing salads, kids running round the garden. Middle class bonding and fun, eh? Now, picture your IT workplace. Look around at your workmates. Do *you* get together on weekends? Do your spouses know any personal details of your workmates' spouses, beyond what may have slipped out during a long forgotten company Chistmas ball? Do you go bowling, play poker, or help your colleagues pave the driveway of their new home? Do you even have drinks with them after work? Is it just the professions who share some element of physical danger where this stereotypical bonding occurs, or can it occur with nerdy programmers? What are your experiences with friendships in the code-cutting office?"
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Friendships in the IT Workplace?

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  • Jeez. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Leven Valera ( 127099 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @09:58AM (#2588742) Homepage Journal
    Damn, man, you mean socialize? As in, hang out? With the users? WTF?

    Oh, other IT. Okay. Had me panicked for a second.
    • its tempting just to drop them the 'i read your email' line while yous are drunk

    • Re:Jeez. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by b_pretender ( 105284 )
      Mountain bicycling is the bridges all social gaps.
      Buy mountain bikes.
      Go to the local trail for some practice and then drop a few hints around the office that you like to ride. You'll hanging out and drinking beer with co-workers in no time.
      • Re:Jeez. (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
        Mountain bicycling is the bridges all social gaps.

        Invite them go to North Shore biking with you. No one will ever find the bodies, and they'll certainly never pin it on you if they do.

    • Re:Jeez. (Score:5, Funny)

      by heylady ( 537788 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:37AM (#2589025) Homepage
      I work with these people 40+ hours a week....to socialize with them and talk about what? :) WORK?
  • Yes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Howie ( 4244 )
    Maybe it's because we're a small company, but those sorts of things definitely happen here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @09:58AM (#2588748)
    /. is fucking ann landers
  • by teaserX ( 252970 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @09:59AM (#2588755) Homepage Journal
    Are you mad? IT guys don't drink after work. Espescialy *WITH* other IT guys. We drink *during* work.
    • my old boss even knew that if he wanted me to do overtime, he had to buy alcohol UP FRONT, and have it ready before i start working that day. and boy, after few beers, my admin skills were enhanced. i blame it on my polish nationality.
  • Telecommuting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sfe_software ( 220870 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:00AM (#2588760) Homepage
    We all telecommute, but those of us in Florida get together for a big Xmas party every year... a small group of us hangs out more frequently, but it's mostly because we work from our homes etc, and this gives us a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level.

    With other jobs, we'd go out for drinks perhaps after completing (or landing) a large project, but never just for the heck of it.

    I don't know if it's the "Personal danger" issue, maybe more that we aren't as social as most people...
  • by iBod ( 534920 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:01AM (#2588769)
    About a year ago, I stopped working in an office and now work full time from my office at home.

    I get more done and have less distractions but I really do miss the social interaction, the gossip, the afterwork beers etc.

    Why is there always this stereotypical assumption that because you cut code for a living you must be some kind of antisocial, introverted misfit? Coders have friends too y'know.

    • by GTRacer ( 234395 ) <gtracer308@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:51AM (#2589111) Homepage Journal
      Hmmm...maybe it's just me, but my general non-need for social interaction is one thing that led me to my career choice of I/T.

      Don't get me wrong, I have a lovely wife of 7 years and 2 kids, and we have a few friends we hang out with. We go to movies, dinners out, theme parks, all kinds of places with people.

      What I don't get is many people's apparent need for several close friendships. How on earth are you supposed to have time to work 10-hour days, spend quality time with the family and still have personal time greater than 15 minutes a night if you have a whole bunch of friends you feel compelled to socialize with?

      I'd much rather be playing Ace Combat 4 or GTA3 than trying to hold up one end of a "status" fiendship any day!

      - Likes people, more or less...

  • ... why would i want to hang out with people that aren't as smart as me?

  • Ask Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:03AM (#2588779)
    Okay, is social behavior THAT strange a task that we need an Ask Slashdot article about it? I'm still not clear on what the question is, but it seems to boil down to this:

    "Am I allowed to be friends with everyone at work?"

    You know, most people you work with do enjoy having fun. And most people you work with usually have fun with their friends. Now, if you're a friend of theirs, chances are they'll want to have fun and invite you along. Why? Because you're their friend. That is how friendships work.

    I didn't realize this was such a complicated subject. People who are compatible will gravitate toward one another, regardless of the venue.

    What do you need, written instructions?
    • Re:Ask Slashdot? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DarkDust ( 239124 )
      It is THAT strange. I'd never go drinking with my co-workers, because they are not the kind of people I like to have as friends (doesn't mean they aren't nice people, just not the people I hang around with).

      And as far as I've heard friendship of co-workers outside the work is very rare in the company I work. I only know of two people who go climbing some times.

      I've made the experience that IT people generally lack social skills. Some more, some less, but I don't know a IT professional who's a 'party animal'. But maybe I just know the wrong people :-)
      • Re:Ask Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bla ( 96124 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:33AM (#2589001)
        I've made the experience that IT people generally lack social skills. Some more, some less, but I don't know a IT professional who's a 'party animal'. But maybe I just know the wrong people :-)

        i know a lot of "IT geeks" that are complete party animals. most of my friends, actually :) their after-work activities consist mostly of either getting completely stoned and playing PS2 or going to raves/clubs/parties, etc.

        one thing we don't do, however, is have BBQs where the guys sit around a throw back a few while the wives prepare salad and yell at the kids. largely this is because we're mostly too young to have kids, but it's also because all the girls in our group are equally IT geeks. we're a bunch of programmers, admins, and graphics people, and that's not delimited by sex at all. the attitudes are different in IT, i think, than in the professions listed in the original question. *shrug* YMMV. but that's been my experience.

    • Re:Ask Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:23AM (#2588932)
      Actually, there's more of a trick to this than you think.

      Any other field outside of IT, where people rarely work more than 40-50hrs a week, it's quite common for workers to mingle after work in activities, have parties for other coworkers, etc. Since you only see these people for maybe upwards of an hour a day on average, they can be friends, or if you have problematic workers, you only have to deal with them for a short time, and thus they don't cause too much social trauma in the workplace. Additionally, 40 hr/wk, plus, say, an addition 10hr/wk with coworker activities, still leaves plenty of personal and family time, so it's balanced well.

      In IT, where it's very easy to be required to work 60hr+/wk, you're seeing your coworkers a lot more than just an 1hr a day, and particularly if you have annoying coworkers, every extra minute can add up. Because you're now spending more time at work, you also tend to value your personal time more, and doing outside-work activities with coworkers probably loses out to getting away from them. And typically IT work can be a stressful job given the typical 'gap' between what the IT worker knows and what the customer knows, with the IT worker having to try to bridge that gap. All those factors make for the IT workplace to be potentially socially-stressed.

      That's not to say that every IT workplace is like that, and I think that's the gist of this question; is there a commonality to social life of the IT workplace, or are their shining examples or dreadful situations that are worth hearing about?

    • by odaiwai ( 31983 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:33AM (#2588996) Homepage
      Do we need a Socializing HOWTO?

      1. Introduction
      2. Buying Rounds
      2.1 Always Buy your round
      2.2 Even if you don't like everyone.
      3. Make Small Talk
      3.1 The Weather
      3.2 Not latest Kernel Versions (unless you're all geeks)
      3.3 Sports are good
      3.4 Geeky sports like Karate, Judo, Fencing are ok, but don't go overboard
      3.5 Chess is right out
      4. More drinking
      4.1 Drink less than Alcoholics
      4.2 Seriously, don't try and keep up
      4.3 Don't get sick on the Boss
      4.4 Get Happy, not stupid.
      4.5 If you buy rounds when everyone else is drunk, you're not obliged to drink alcohol.
      (otherwise known as 'chuffing heck, he didn't even look drunk after 15 pints of lager!'
      4.6 Do Not Call the Boss a Wanker even after 15 pints of Lager.
      4.7 Be able to Discretely Go Home early if required. (Wives are good for this)
      5. When you get home
      5.1 Drink Plenty of Water, eat something
      6. Next Day
      6.1 Don't be Hungover
      6.2 Don't Show the Photos of the Boss and the inflatable Sheep.
      6.3 Reserve them for Staff Appraisals
      6.4 Eat fried egg and bacon sandwiches in front of the worst offenders from last night.
      7. Summary
      7.1 Don't get too Drunk
      7.2 If you must get drunk, don't be obnoxious
      7.3 Rember people who are obnoxious drunks
      7.4 If they piss you off, portray them as alcoholics to the management.
  • which is why I have to hang out on /. all the time.

    Seriously tho, I work a midnight to 8am shift, if I had friends, I'd never see 'em anyways. God Bless 24/7 support :(
  • Get a Life (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 1alpha7 ( 192745 )

    No, I'm not a social introvert. My cow-orkers were picked by HR. Yeah, right, there's a good filter for close, personal friendship. I pick my friends, and the overlap has thus far been slim, although anything might happen.


  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:05AM (#2588799) Homepage
    TV has a tough job to do, in using only 23 minutes or 46 minutes to develop a plot and resolve it with any sort of realism at all. Not to mention the many interruptions in which your drama must flow correctly. If they can take shortcuts with characters, they will.

    In RL, it's important to have social situations secondary to the job. That way your social life and your job life can remain independent - and any job issues won't affect your friendships.

    Although I am the sort to have few friends, and thus not an expert, I would say that depending on your job for your social life would be a bad idea in RL.

    • You are correct. Its absolutely STUPID to bring your personal life to your work, because eventually someone at work is going ot ruin your life to get a raise, or a promotion, or whatever, then where does that leave you?

      Well now you'll be depressed because you thought person X who used you as a stepping stone was your friend.

      Having friends are work is just dumb, dont you people learn anything from Steve jobs and bill gates?
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:06AM (#2588803)
    People who are heavily into IT are naturally solitary types.

    Perhaps using a computer provides some of the fundamental interaction that we require, making social interaction less important for computer programmers. Stupid idea? People have emotional relationships with cats and dogs, and even with creatures which arguably don't have any self-awareness or emotions (pet spiders and fish, for instance). These animals fulfil some basic emotional need for interaction, and something to care about. Can the same thing not be said of a computer? They evoke emotional responses from humans after all. (Especially when the damn things crash when you haven't saved a copy of your work).
    • I'd disagree.

      Some people who are heavily into IT are naturally solitary. Just like some people who are heavily into bar-tending are naturally solitary types, or just like how some people who are heavily into skeet-shooting are naturally solitary types. The two have nothing to do with each other. It's just SOME people are like that!
      • Some people who are heavily into IT are naturally solitary. Just like some people who are heavily into bar-tending are naturally solitary types, or just like how some people who are heavily into skeet-shooting are naturally solitary types. The two have nothing to do with each other. It's just SOME people are like that!

        So your argument is basically that IT attracts non-descriminately from all peronality types? Oh, yes, that would be why 50% of computer programmers are women then.
    • speak for yourself. I've met plenty of computer programmer types who enjoyed socializing, and guess what, I'm one of those too. my main way of functioning is still introverted (as in, i need my time alone, i like to collect my thoughts on my own, and i like people one by one more better than in large groups), but i sure get a lot of mental energy from hanging out w/ friends. of the people from work, i usually end up hanging out w/ non-techies for the most part.
    • by websensei ( 84861 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:29AM (#2588972) Journal
      I most vehemently disagree!

      Given the right environment, hacker types are among the most truly social, uninhibited and communal personality types there are!

      Anecdotally, I work in a Technology group comprised of about 60 people (feeds, db, app, backoffice, webdev, ops, tools, qa...) and we engineers *often* meet after work in decent numbers for beers, organize foozball tournaments at work, go out for lunch, go out for dinner, go on ski trips, go hiking, etc etc. I have found this group to be among the most varied, interesting, friendly and social group of people I've ever encountered. The ken-and-barbie types in biz dev and marketing -- the supposedly social crowd -- have nothing like this level of personal interaction, and groups outside Tech commonly complain that we have so much more fun than any other group here. I do not believe this to be an anomaly. Smart people with a range of interests are bound to find each others' company enjoyable.

      If geeks have a reputation for antisocial behavior, it is IMHO due largely to their inability to relate to the shallow and selfish "in" groups in their school years. Once free to pursue their interests, they thrive. In the end it is the "popular" crowd from earlier years who end up lonely, ostracized, outcast for their inability to do or become something interesting. Being "cool" becomes pretty stale once you hit your mid-twenties and have shown no passion for mind, and for sharing and developing ideas....

      I could continue but I owe my good friend in the app team some code before we go out to lunch.

    • The reason the computer is cool is because its not as stressful (emotional can easily turn into stressful) as life OFFLINE.

      Because when online gets stressful, theres always the off button.
  • I hang out with people every once in a while from previous workplaces, but not my current one. I keep believing this is just a bad dream - I haven't even memorized people's first names. Just the first initial and last name. I get weird looks when i say "Good morning, bsmith!". I dunno why. But in a company that considers Christmas & Thanksgiving "Just another workday" unless you can prove meaningful or religous backing for the days, I won't dedicate too many engrams..

    The comradare I had with my co-workers at the deceased dot-com i worked for is still strong, and one of the best friendships of my life came from it, but here.. Well, for one, im the only one under the age of 30 and my biggest chum is a manager. Interpret that as you may.
  • BBQ on a sunny weekend, chugging a few cold ones

    then someone gets in their car and has a massive accident, sues company for supplying the alcohol. End of party. A lot of night clubs are starting to take keys away from impaired patrons because, more and more, the responsibility is being shifted to the clubs. Just think "Tobacco company is responsible for someone's smoking and lung disease" for legal precedent.

    Then there's the possibility of sexual harassment suit after a few cold ones, not to mention making 'politically incorrect' jokes... It all puts a big chill on the so-called 'fun'.
  • We get together to go to Yankee games, hang out after work at the bar, etc.....

    My entire team (~10 sysadmins) get along great.

    I even keep in touch with the folks from my previous job -- we all get together once a month or so to hang out.

    Ya gotta keep yourself sane. :-)

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.....

  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by under_score ( 65824 ) <mishkin@NOSPAm.berteig.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:08AM (#2588817) Homepage
    My work experience may not be as atypical as I once thought. I have two very good friends who I seem to end up working with over and over again. We are buddies from high school. We went to the same university and then went separate ways - for a short time. One of us, got a job at a startup and then convinced the founders to hire the other two of us. We made up the whole dev team and it was great. Lots of fun, loud music, really productive 30 hour stretches... Things turned sour financially, so we all managed to jump to Sun. From there, we all split up again, but only for a short time. We ended up together at another startup. Again we split up, and that is how things stand at the moment. Nevertheless, we have plans afoot to reunite. This is not to say that everything has been rosy. We have had our share of conflicts. Working together is one of the best ways to get to really know your friends. We have come very close to losing our mutual friendship due to work related problems. At one point, one of these friends of mine was my boss, and he wasn't very good at it (partly because he was my friend, but also just because it was his first time managing). I won't get into the details, but suffice it to say that there were some very very bad moments. Our spouses/girlfriends have relatively minimal contact which is partly because we are now geographically dispersed. I live in "northern" ontario, one friend lives in Toronto, and the other lives in San Fran. We see each other from time to time. Of course, I also make new friends when I start a new job. I have some very good friends from the days when I worked at Sun. And in my current job, which I started quite recently, I am developing some friendships that will almost certainly turn into the bucolic middle-class scene which is described in this article. But it depends on the work environment. Certainly this won't happen if you are in a telecommuting position :-) It also won't happen if you have a negative attitude towards your co-workers. You have to actively seek this out (if you want it that is). It doesn't just happen automatically. As well, office culture can play a fairly substantial role: if there are frequent social events, I think it is less likely that more spontaneous relationships will develop.
  • At my LAST job, we had plenty of 'Employee appreciation' type BBQ's that were really strained. It was rather obvious that the sentiment wasn't genuine and it came from some Management cookbook to increase productivity. The staff saw through it easily. (But we still ate the donuts.)

    At my current job, there's a much better morale, a camaraderie if you will (Kum-ba-ya) While we don't usually get together on the weekends, there are more than enough employeee sponsored Potlucks during the holidays to seriously impact my wasteline. We've had Beer's in the Bar after work, and folks pretty regularly bring in food in the morning. All this is pretty funny as the IT department is a vacuum of calm in an otherwise really f*cked up government entity.

    (That and they're taking the troops to breakfast this morning. Yum!)
  • I don't know about other people, but I am in a development program at a large company. Most people in the program were recruited from schools quite some distance away, and relocated here. Because of that, we pretty much know only each other (the fact that they put us all together in classes for two weeks helps), and we've become pretty good friends. I don't hang around w/my direct co-workers much, mostly because they're all double my age (I write COBOL...). I play golf, go to happy hours, hit the "nightspots", watch football, etc... with people in the program, though.

    Now, the problem I need help with is meeting people *outside* of work...bars suck, gyms don't work...the best luck I've had is basketball at the local park, but it's gettin a little chilly for that in New England...anybody have any ideas for this?
  • "Don't dip your pen in the company ink."

  • Nope, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew.thekerrs@ca> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:12AM (#2588848) Homepage
    There's a select group of people in my office that I go for coffee with, but almost no socializing happens outside of the office. Too many people have been stabbed in the back by co-workers, so there is the element of trust missing. Management (one of the worst backstabbers in our group) has tried some feeble efforts at team building, but cannot treat us with respect on any regular basis. The odd time that praise comes down from above, most of us are looking for an ulterior motive.

    Its unfortunate since most of the people here are very skilled, but without trust between us, there is no way people will open up to each other, and thus, no socializing. It makes for a very ugly environment to work in. A co-op student we had about a year ago make this comment about one of the supervisors, "She's the only person I know that will smile to your fact while shoving a knife in your back." He came to this conclusion 4 weeks after working in our office.

    Myself, and several others have actually been "hauled into the office" beacuse we tried to point out a flaw in a decision. In my case, I did it in private, explaining how a particular device did not meet our needs and would not provide the needed functionality. I was told to purchase it anyways. We got it, I explained again why it wouldn't work, and was pulled into the office by my supervisor and manager.

    I'm not happy, nor are most of the people here. I'm half looking for a new job at the moment, while I take advantage of some training and pursue some more certification (yes, MCSE, but if it makes me marketable, who cares).

    • Now you'll know to never trust anyone at work.
    • Re:Nope, (Score:3, Interesting)

      Speaking of potiential backstabbing I have a story for you. Before the economic downturn I use to make 4x of what I am making now doing computer support. I was forced to fire a friend. He was a smart guy but had something called aspergers which is a very mild form of autism. Its quite common in IT where unsocial behavior is more exceptable. THe guy really knew his stuff with computers but did not interacct with the users properly and my boss was very uncomfortable around him. He told my boss he had a dissability and he decided to fire him. Actually he had me do it to cover his ass. :-(

      That really sucked. He was just covering his ass so he wouldn't be sued. My friend was competent in my opinion. Its just that he wanted someone with good customer service skills and shitty computer skills. I told my friend ahead of time and I ended up being fired myself. Really really bad. I like gaining friends but I learned my lesson on hiring them. Also its unfair to other co-workers who are not your friends but perform well on the job. If your evaluating your co-workers performance, it likely that your friends will have an unfair advantage. I just never want to go through the same experience again. I like having a drink on a blue moon with co-workers on occasion but I am carefull. I think professional relationships are good but are seperate from relationships that involve friends. Its not that one is better but they are different.

      Now in regards to you mcse comment. MCSE marketable?

      Marketable my ass. I just quit a job at staples for 7/hr. How did I get the job. I got it thanks to my mcse. Seriously. It gets you nowhere. I would recommend a college degree to anyone who is seriously thinking a paper mcse certification will solve all problems. Not to mention my local lug likes to make fun of me. :-)

      It may give your first job if your lucky but since I was fired from my first IT job I am now screwed. Get solaris certification or something instead.

  • The social interaction is there, even if it doesn't include girlfriends and BBQ. More often than not, it also includes some game like Quake.

    Geeks just have a different common ground between each other than fire fighters or policemen, but the pecking order still is established somehow.
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:14AM (#2588870) Homepage Journal

    Everyone at work is essentially your comptition, when it comes time to get that raise, your so called friend will use everything against you he can to make sure he gets the raise and not you, and because YOU were stupid enough to allow this competitor into your life, you suffer the concequences when they ruin it.

    Lets get a few facts straight, theres no such thing, as a "Friend" at work, these are called assosiates, you work with them, but you are careful what you say around them. Talk bad about the boss around the wrong guy and next thing you know you'll be fired or in your bosses office explaining yourself.

    I know i cant be the only person here who knows that the first rule is never trust anyone at work.

    The second rule is never try to make friends with people at work.

    Third rule is not to date women from work. If you are a high up CEO or boss, and all the women are after you, dont fall for it, you know they just want a raise and want to move up.

    Well enough with my rules, I'm sure everyone knows the rules, but some people are too blind to follow.
    • Or, there's the opposite point of view. Make friends with people all over the place you work. I've done this and it works great.

      Where I used to work, my boss was my friend (we became friends before he was my boss) and the sysadmin was my friend. This meant a really pleasant working environment. A boss who is wiling to listen to reason and even the occasional excuse, but one who knows I'm not trying to screw him over. A sysadmin who is willing to listen when I say "I think the network is screwy". I hung out with both these guys after work and on weekends, and it never caused problems.

      At the place I work now, there are 3 team leaders, and I'm good friends with the other two. We've been there the longest and get along really well. It's really convenient to be able to present a united front to management, to back eachother up, and to have someone to talk to when someone on your team is a real problem.

      I think your first two rules (never trust anyone at work, never make friends with people at work) are ways to make your job unpleasant. Who's more likely to stab you in the back, a friend or an "associate"?

      I think your third rule makes good sense, however. It's great (for you and the other person) while things work out, although it may bother, annoy, or sicken other people at work. But if ever you break up, you have to see your ex every day, perhaps flirting with other co-workers, etc.

      • At work, you dont know who is your friend, and who is not.

        IF you treat everyone like a business partner, then theres no way for them to backstab you.

        If you were steve jobs, you'd tell bill gates all your ideas over a beer one night, because hes your "friend"

        Then you'd be at his mercy when he comes out with ideas based off of yours.

        You can gamble and try to make friends at work, i mean if you knew people before they got the job or know the boss before he was a boss then its not so bad, but most people didnt know people before they got the job.

        Essentially, they are all competition. Everyone doing anything they can to make sure they get more money.

        Theres no friends in business, theres no friends in work, theres only assosiates, and business partners

        to think that theres friends is like thinking IBM is our friend because they help promote linux.
    • by Christopher Bibbs ( 14 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:50AM (#2589105) Homepage Journal
      Let's see. I go riding (motorcycles) with my boss and a few of the other guys at his level. I stood up in another developers wedding. I've gone drinking with just about everyone I work with. Oh, and we're going to go see "The One" this Wednesday after work.

      Now, what has this cost me? Uh, I only got a total of 133% in raises over the last 4 years. Damn, I'll bet the guy who was in my wedding screwed me over. Oh, and there was that time when they gave me choice of projects. I'll bet my drinking buddy was holding something back then. And all those nights out that got put on the expense report, that must have cost me about $0.01 dip in my stock value.

      Having friends sucks! Except the time when a customer was bitching about me and everyone stood up for me because they knew me better. Maybe friends aren't so bad.
    • Um, I met my wife at work 5 years ago and am very happily married.

      Also some of my very best friends are people I work with (and play fooz with and hike with and snowboard with and etc). We encourage and help and teach and learn from each other, load-balance when possible, and help relieve each others' stress. I cannot imagine spending this much time in a place with people I did not trust and like.

      Your paranoia may be founded on bad personal experience, but it is extreme and unhealthy. I feel very bad for you. Your days at work must be very unhappy indeed. I hope your situation and outlook change, for your sake. It does not have to be this way. Really.

      • You took a huge risk, work is not the place to take such risks, Your life is on the line literally.

        So you met your wife at work, GOOD for you, most people meet a backstabbing liar who wants a raise or an ass kisser to the boss.

        Lucky is winning the lottery, Lucky is becoming a millionare, Lucly is running a successful business without getting purchased by Microsoft, Lucky is a person who makes friends at work.

        Work is all about competition, alot of the people you think are your friends really arent, and its not worth the risk. Money first, Friends second.
    • holy shit! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @11:38AM (#2589420) Journal
      Holy shit man, I am SO glad I do not work with YOU!

      With that kind of attitude there must be a ton of backstabbing going on in your place of work. Of course you are all probably competing for raises and advancement, but if you can't trust each other then that is directly hindering your performance.

      You have to be able to separate work from your social life, then you can compete for raises and still trust each other. Done correctly and maturely, you will acheive the best possible efficiency and you will also develop lasting friendships whether you like it or not.

      Where I work, we're all pretty much friends, and it works out great. It's not always frictionless, but whenever there's a problem, that problem stays at work and is only dealt with at work. Our friendships may only help to quicken the resolution to the problem, not make it worse.

      But whatever, enjoy living your life of backstabbing and distrust, it sounds like a load of fun...

    • Let me clarify what I've said a couple of times -- that you can and should make good friends with coworkers.

      You should always know that they are your coworkers, first and foremost. I don't advocate anywhere near the level of manipulative closed-heartedness Hanzo seems to be talking about, but you do have to be smart about it.

      I have friends outside of work who know my exact salary. None of my work friends know that. When I get a bonus check, or an envelope full of stock options, the numbers on those letters don't find their way to my work friends. If my boss tells me something in confidence, there are some work friends who may hear about it, and others who may not. I make that judgment on an individual basis, and I make it very carefully.

      You do have to use your head. You have to realize that these people play multiple roles in your life, and any time that happens, you have to be smart about it. It's not just co-worker/friend -- any time a person fills two or more roles in your life, you must be careful how you balance them in those multiple roles.

      If you're the kind of person who has an on/off switch for friends, and can't be a bit more socially savvy about it, you might be best off leaving the switch on "off" for your coworkers.

      But you'll miss out on some great potential friendships by doing that.
  • I don't see why this would not be the case at IT departments. However, I do think that there is a big "but" here. I experienced on quite some occasions that the whole feel of 'getting together' vaporized the moment where such a "coming together" is forced upon the department by the boss or manager who thinks "its good to be together and get some relaxation going".

    I allways enjoy these things the moment its organized (or simply not organized at all) by some other colleague or simply thought up by the group. And usually those occasions are much more fun too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:16AM (#2588880)
    (Posting anonymously to preserve my anonymity.)

    After work I take the bus to a Chinese restaurant and eat dinner, then I either go to a book store or straight home. At home I get on the computer, or a play on my keyboards (musical, not computer).

    Even on the weekends I don't do much socially. I do some volunteer work at a nature center, but other than that I spend most of the weekends reading and writing.

    So although I do have a life outside of computers - music, books, writing, nature - I really don't have a social life, and you can forget any thought of friendship with my co-workers.

    I guess the stereotypes are true to an extent: I don't make friends easily and my interests are very esoteric by "normal" standards, so I spend a lot of time alone. I am looking forward to the Lord of the Rings movies, but that's pretty geeky in itself. (And I'm really bad here, anyway. As I said to someone on a message board "U-pedon i lam in Gelydh. Pedon Sindarin." *sigh* Yes, I actually speak Elvish.)

    I guess my social ineptitude is partially a result of the whole "geek angst" experience: beat up by the "cool" kids in school; most school kids didn't want to be friends with me; chess club, RPG club, band. I've also got manic-depression thrown in to the mix, though, with a heavy emphasis on the depression. That didn't help any.

    So do I have friends among my coworkers? No. They aren't like me. Even working in the computer industry.
  • I've worked with are not people I would choose as friends, despite our "common" interest in the job. The place I work at now, I don't even trust the guy next to me not to stab me in the back, let alone have a beer with him. The one guy I did respect quit. Lucky Bastard.

    I did do a 2 year stint as a chef at an upper-crust society club for awhile. That was loads of fun, lots of beer and Thurs/Fri. night fun. Anytime we had a banquet was an excuse to raid the liquor cabinets -- the Sous Chef did most of the raiding too ;)
  • by avdp ( 22065 )
    I may be wrong but I think this is a white colar job versus blue colar job thing, rather than an IT job versus everything else.

    Sure, we do the christmas party, the "sponsor a kid" for the holidays stuff, the donuts on people's birthday, and on monday morning before our weekly status meetings we all talk about our weekends and stuff. But I would say this is all very superficial stuff. I see no deep bonding like you describe. Sure, a couple of people here that have similar interests (video games) do get together every once in a while to play, but that's about it. Maybe it's because of the way people come and go (get hired and laid off) or the way "political correctness" is such a huge influence that we hesitate interacting with our co-workers in any way that (heaven forbid!) could result in building a real friendship.

    I think if you work in a type of job where your life depends on the other guy (firemen, policemen, etc) there is absolutely NO WAY BUT to forge really deep bonds with these co-workers. You know, the kind of job where "team work" is not just an abstraction that improves productivity, but where it means life and death.

    I am sure there are exceptions to this. In fact, I know there are exceptions to this because my previous job was different. We were a very small team and yes, we did bond that way. But I always thought we were the exception rather than the rule.
  • um (Score:2, Funny)

    by harvord ( 197507 )
    We dont have weekends or friends, we have THE SIMS!
  • I designed a quake map like that once- the rocket launcher was right by the BBQ so it was a very popular spot. No salad, though...
  • I wish my workplace was more like the one on NewsRadio. Fun people, eccentric boss, socializing after office hours, getting into kooky jams and involved in crazy schemes...

    Instead, I just sit in front of a monitor, pretending to work while I read Slashdot. Where's Beth when you need her?


  • As a contract employee, I seldom find myself hanging out with the regular employees. I keep in touch with and socialize with fellow contract people fairly regularly. When in the same city we'll do something about every week. I choose my friends among contracters, I have to work with the employees.

  • Before I said friends at work was dumb but i didnt go into detail why.

    Take a look at Bill gates, Steve jobs etc, They were friends at work, but they were also competitors, backstabbing each other for money at every chance.

    Someone who is a competitor can never be your friend, because they are your competition.

    Look at the business genius bill gates, how did he get where he is today? Friendships at work!!!!

    Its good to have assosiates at work, but these arent really friends, these are people who you call contacts, or if you are a backstabbing liar like bill gates you use these people to move up, but they arent your friend.
  • A necessity! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Markvs ( 17298 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:24AM (#2588936) Journal
    My site only has 5 techs, another engineer, and a program manager. (All of which, barring one tech, came in after me).

    When I arrived, I started a "Thursday night out" where we go to a different pub every week. About half the crew participates.

    During this time steam gets blown off, information gets passed, and these members of the team are a lot closer than the others. Sure, we don't hang out on the weekends or anything, but the night out makes the job a lot more enjoyable.

    That, and drinking with the boss has its advantages. I've learned all *kinds* of useful information vis-a-vis social engineering. Relatively easy after 3 or 4 pints of Guiness.
  • aside from the fact that you cannot ever "fish off the company pier," great friendships can, in my opinion, be made at work. for instance, my boss and i are going on a week long ski trip in january with friends and family. occasionally, the guys here go out to play "pasture pool" (read: golf). however, one cannot have friends from only one locale. if all your friends are at work, you're in for trouble.

    the moral of the story: make friends, and do it often.
  • But, there are a few things that must happen.

    1) You must know the people you work with for a while. A lot of IT people work with people for short chunks of time, then move on to the next project.

    2) Well, chemistry. Lets face it, if you get along really well with your work people then you may well socialize outside work.

    I was an intern this summer at a large company, and was working in a room with 6 other people. I think it was an unusual room in that we all got along really really well. We ate lunch together every day if possible, oftentimes people saw each other on the weekends, one day we went boating with our team lead, etc. This group, even though projects only last 4 months, had been together for about a year at that point, which was also unusual.

    Police and firemen, etc. have this reputation for that kind of thing, but I think its really a product of your work environment. Socializing with their work mates and the community is mostly what they do, and the real firefighting and arresting people work is probably a very small portion of their time. IT in general isn't quite as good of an environment, but really its what you make of it.

  • Some thoughts that struck me:

    In our company, which is in rough waters at the moment, the situation is pretty tense at the moment. The result of that is that the programmers are sticking together against management. Thus, people are doing something together out of free will. There the friendships are born.

    Before, everything was a lot of fun. Everybody was happy _at_ work, so there was no _need_ to do something together.

    Danger, or unfavorable situations, seem to encourage friendships. You have to trust your coworkers, and thus, it seems, are much more likely to get friends.
  • Hang out with my co-workers? Those nerds? I don't think so... ;)

    I've had a variety of experiences at a few companies. My last company was filled with 20 year-olds, so there were lots of friends to be made. I made my closest friendships and that company and hang out with those old co-workers all the time. My current group is filled with a variety of ages and types. The only things we have in common are computers and alcohol. So sometimes after coding we go out drinking.

    But I don't golf, don't have a wife or kids, and never want to visit anyone in New Jersey. (Yes, NJ really is the armpit of the US.) If we were all middle-aged bankers, I could see us going to all play golf one day or have a BBQ with the families. But with such a varied bunch of developers, I don't see that happening in my career anytime soon.
  • Let the Games begin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JsrNull ( 308454 )
    I get together with current and former IT co-workers once every other month and we play 8-20 hours of board games (SPI, AH, Placebo Press, Settlers). We gab, joke, rag on (Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Linux, etc.), and talk shop. It is great fun. I even win a game occasionally. It just takes a little longer to recover now that I am in my 40s.
  • Actually, when I want to have a drink, have a dinner or have a party, I don't want to do it with friends from the IT work.

    Some of them are really kewl dudez. But IT people often can speak about computers, and nothing else. That's not a good thing to refresh one's mind.
  • Do you go bowling, play poker, or help your colleagues pave the driveway of their new home?

    I'm helping a coworker put a second story on his house in December. Does that count?
  • I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. You wouldn't understand...
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:40AM (#2589041) Homepage Journal
    Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER mix work and pleasure. Don't even TRY. That's not to say that you should never have some sort of social events together with workmates, but it is professional and emotional suicide to try and build friendships there.

    Why? Because if person A is the boss of person B, person A is going to HAVE to make decisions that are in the company's best interests, even if they're not in B's best interests. The mere possibility of that kind of situation places massive stresses on any kind of workplace relationship. It only takes one accusation of favouritism to utterly wreck a close-knit team of employees.

    Then, there's the fact that the workplace is invariably a pyramid. There are fewer positions of greater authority. Always. Especially in times of economic insecurity, you HAVE to make yourself valuable. That means a friend might get fired (always a good source of resentment), or a friend might get promoted ahead of you, even though you were "in line" for that promotion, and the job situation is just too tenuous to simply walk in, somewhere else.

    The only way to work "well" is to check yourself in at the door, do the work assigned, and don't build close relationships at work.

    This is not, IMHO, "ideal". The entire heirarchy concept is one that is the corporate form of feudalism. The reason we don't have feudalsim today, as the major political system, is that it works really badly. It's inflexible, and vulnerable to corruption, paranoia, "gang warfare", etc.

    Corporations are people, same as countries, and therefore should function better under similar conditions. That means more openness, and (yes) in-work relationships & friendships. "Should" and "Do" are two very different words. Company structures have changed little in the past 10,000 years, and are really unlikely to change any time soon. (I was going to say that serfdom had been scrapped, but then I thought about the unpaid student labor that companies use for the grungy stuff that nobody else wants to touch.)

    Until such time as you are employed by a non-heirarchical company that is psychologically sound, keep your friends and work as far apart as you possibly, humanly can. Then, and ONLY then, you can start being a person, rather than a puppet.

  • The one time my (ex)company brought out beer for a staff meeting was when they announced we were all fired!

  • Now, picture Slashdot. Look around at your fellow posters. Do *you* get together on weekends? Do your spouses know any personal details of your fellow posters' spouses, beyond what may have slipped out during a long forgotten KDE/GNOME flamewar? Do you go trolling, play Counterstrike, or help your colleagues with the latest EFF petition? Do you even IM them to go out and get something to drink after work? Is it just the professions who share some element of physical and other danger from their incompetent, overzealous bosses where this stereotypical bonding occurs, or can it occur with everyone outside of Slashdot, too? What are your experiences with Slash relationships in the Dot?
  • What about.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:44AM (#2589062) Journal
    people that don't drink. Hell, I am reading through all of these messages (and look at the "socializing" that happens in my office) and it's easy to see that someone who does not partake in mass quantities of alcohol usually will have nothing to participate in.

  • I was very fortunate to have some great people in my first development group. We'd go out for lunch, a bunch of us, once a week or so. We'd go out for beers after work. We threw parties, BBQ's, all the stuff you're talking about. Our wives knew each other (or husbands, for that matter). I thought all groups were like that, until I transfered within the company.

    My new group is nothing like that. I have one good friend within the team; we get together and play games, drink, and bitch about work. The rest of these people are pretty stick-to-themselves. I can't imagine hanging out at some of these people's houses, or meeting their wives and kids.

    Weirdly enough, I still get together with the people from the first team. Just this weekend my wife and I went over one of their homes to watch football and visit with him, his wife, and their kids.

    I think it's just pure luck that decides these things. Some teams are just not meant to socialize together.

    As for those that talk about how it's impossible to make friends with work people due to backstabbing, office politics, etc. ... get a new job! Jesus. Work is a place you go to for a few hours a day to pay your bills. If things are that ugly where you are, find a new place to trade your soul for money.
  • by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <(ten.cdmm) (ta) (mij)> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @10:51AM (#2589110) Homepage
    Your typical Tokyo after work get-together costs you ~$80/ea. Crappy dinner, beers and karaoke. Add $20 for cabs if it goes after midnight.
    To counter this a bit, I did the following:

    At my last job, I dreaded these things, so I instituted "Jim's Movie Night" where I would clear a big space in the document warehouse. set up a screen, speakers and one of those projectors usually reserved for PowerPoint. Everyone was told to bring their own food and beer and Just kick back and relax.
    They were really a great success and management looked the other way.
    When picking a movie became difficult, I hacked together a CGI voting program on the company intranet. I'd wget reviews of the movies from wherever and then let people vote on this week's movie.
    It was a really nice thing - cheap and easy and a lot of fun. I'd recommend it to anyone who's got access to an old conference-room projector and a bit of space.
    Start it out for close friends and let the thing grow as it will. You'll be surprised how many people will show.

    Jim in Tokyo
  • I socialise with friends that used to be colleagues in ex-workplaces, and I'll count some of my current colleagues as friends and socialise with them - after we no longer work together, which likely won't be long in the current economic climate.

    I have a laugh inside the workplace with my current colleages, but I don't see them outside work, nor do I go to work outings, nor even attend the regular and mandatory "Whoo yeah! Go us! We da best! We one big family!" pep talks (I choose to invest that time in boosting my morale by messengering my actual friends and family).

    Work is the place where I get paid to provide services. It's not a substitute for friends and family, and I won't be drawn into that mindset, nor will I stay in work mode for one moment more than I'm paid for (which inevitably happens to a greater or lesser extent when you socialise with colleagues). If I enjoyed work, I'd do it for nothing, which is pretty much what I did as a games programmer. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, bought into the whole "We're doing something special! We're special people!" bunk, got screwed, moved on, stayed in touch with the actual good guys.

    To paraphrase the great philospher Eric of Cartman: "I'm going over hyah, you guys can go over thyah. Hyah. Thyah."

  • When our company was young and small, we did do a lot together outside work.

    Back then, everyone knew everyone and we all worked closely together under difficult circumstances (we were among the first to build and run billing services software for the nacent cellular industry in the mid 80's). Our work was very stressful and the demands were high.

    Nearly every Friday we would gather at the local establishment and wash our cares away with a variety of brews and distillations. We had a bowling league, we arranged picnics and softball/volleyball outings. We were all pretty young (many of us, this was our first job out of school) and we didn't have families and our work pretty much consumed us. We worked long hours in very chaotic conditions. We shared many common experiences and many of us were very close.

    Then something happended. Not all at once, but over time our company got bigger and more stable. We had more and more employees and more work but and we became much more corporate. We moved into a different building further away from the city. People working for the company tended now to have families and such and the climate became much more professional and calm.

    Now, employee gatherings outside of work are mostly team outings during the workday that happen 2-3 times a year. I don't know many of the faces I see everyday (as opposed to 10 years ago when I knew _everyone_). I have a family of my own now. Most people (like myself) put in our workday and go home to a busy life outside of work.

    No, it is very different now.
  • Or the lack thereof. I work for a very old company (over 150 years!) - and there are a lot of people here who are "lifers". At 3.5 years working here, there are about 100 people (out of 150 total) who have been here 5 years or longer - one person has been here 35 years, about a half-dozen more over 30 years, and another 10 or so 25-30 years. So there's continuity, and that's one factor in having a strong social culture. The longer-term people are, the more the culture is preserved.

    We also have a golf league in the spring/summer, and a bowling (candlepins) league in the winter - each league has around 30-40 participants (with some people doing both). That encourages interaction, too. Basically, a lot more people here are friends IRL than I see at most places. And people mix across the layers of hierarchy - Vice-presidents golf and bowl alongside mailroom workers, and it's pretty comfortable for most.

    At my previous company (my successor reads here regularly, so he can speak to it if he wants), it was still social to a point, but it seemed to be more a core of us at the management level (many of the managers were members of the partners' families) that socialized together, and then the "rank and file" pretty much hung together by department. There wasn't quite as much mixing, and the one real attempt at a "group" thing when I was there (a softball league) fizzled out after a couple of years. Mind you, it was still a very good place to work, and I'm still friends with the people I befriended there - they were pretty much all good people, there just wasn't as much mixing.

    It may have changed since then, but I doubt too much. Higher-pressure environments and younger companies (like that one) don't seem to have quite as much socializing across boundaries.
  • I have worked at 3 places since 93, with 3 different experiences.

    1. HUGE company, one of the big ones. Social life sucked, until I met up with some of the younger people who worked there who hated it as much as I did. We hung out at lunch, and would go have drinks at least once a week. Great crowd. There were 3 of us who kind of made up the core group. After about 4 years, we all quit and went our separate ways. I later found out the social scene died there shortly after that.

    2. Went to a startup company. Fantastic work environment, everyone loved their jobs (as much as you can). We didn't hang out hardly at all, but every once in a while we would. This was in a large city, and everyone commuted, so nobody really wanted to hang around after work. Startup died after being there 2 years.

    3. New company is big, corporate, cubicles as far as the eye can see. There are forced social activities. (i.e. It isn't mandatory, but if you don't go, you have to work). Several people pretend to be social, because that is the corporate standard. At the end of the day I just want to forget this place exists.

    I have friends outside of work, but at work I am kind of anti-social. I mean, it is a work environment, not a social environment. Don't try and make it social (mandatory fun), pretend we are all one big family, then force the corporate standard on me. The sheep seem to like it, but I don't.

  • Are bugs for me to study! One day I will crush them. CRUSH THEM!

    Ahem. Sorry. Been watching too much Invader Zim lately.

  • My experiences-- (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkEdgeX ( 212110 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @11:04AM (#2589187) Journal
    At my first IT-type job with a dot-com I had quite a lot of after-hours interactions with co-workers; this was mostly due to the fact that we were all roommates in the same house, but before we even moved in together we'd hang out, Quake III with eachother and whatnot (I'm not sure if playing Quake III counts, but it gave us a chance to interact). My wife knew stuff about the others and vice versa, that kind of thing, as well. But I suppose this is almost a given when people are shacked up together.

    My second job, on the other hand, was quite different. I wasn't exactly outgoing, but it was my general impression that any relationship I had with my co-workers terminated at the end of the day-- don't get me wrong, they were great people and wonderful co-workers, but there wasn't much in the way of personal interaction or after work activities (in fact, in this latter category, I can recall NO after-work activities whatsoever). I mostly attribute this to my closed-off nature at the second job though, I think under different circumstances (eg: the prior dot-com not screwing me over) I'd have probably been friendlier.

    To get to the juice of your question though; yes it does happen, it's perfectly normal and okay, and while it doesn't happen with ALL people (see my two examples above), it can. Some people may just not like that kind of thing (if you're questioning yourself and why it is you haven't had these kinds of 'bonding' relationships), I know that I enjoy my privacy after work, and the time it allots me to work on my hobbies (which are pretty much an addiction). If you have a similar all-consuming hobby, it's likely you don't interact with co-workers on this bonding-level you speak of, and it's likely normal given the situation. Now if you find yourself sitting around the house/apartment on the sofa watching more TV than is normal (or simply bored beyond words), I'd suggest speaking up or arranging something with your co-workers that might be fun for all of them. (EG: Bar/club, maybe just out to eat at a restaraunt, perhaps a movie, or just about any fun-to-do-in-groups activity.)
  • it's funny in that i do not actually spend that much time outside the office with people i directly work with, but the company i work for is quite large and has an extensive intramural sports program, and that has been the way i have met most of the people i would call 'friends' with whom i share an employer.

    one of the main issues with not hanging out after work with coworkers is that most of the people i work with are easily 20 years or more older than me, and quite frankly we don't have many similar interests. they have kids, dogs, etc.

    if it weren't for the intramural sports and meeting people my own age, it would be a very lonely place to work. probably enough to make me change my profession or find someplace else to work.

  • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @01:27PM (#2590240)

    I think this might have a lot to do with the age of people who work in IT. While it's certainly not closed to older people, as far as I've seen there are definitely a *lot* more younger people in IT, proportionally, than in most other areas.

    Younger people are more likely to have existing social cliques from college/university/highschool. And I think these sorts of relationships will tend to endure for longer these days than they would have 20 years ago - communications technology is far more widespread and accessible, and people working in IT in particular will tend to make use of it. Cheap phonecalls and email (not to mention cheaper airflight!) mean that moving away from someone is far less likely to lead to drifting apart.

    I feel that a lot of "workplace socialisation" is due to people spending significant proportions of their lives in a workplace environment, socially gravitating towards the people in it. But given that the "younger IT-worker demographic" is more likely to maintain preexisting relationships, and less likely to spend years and years working with the same people, I don't think it's all that surprising that it doesn't happen a lot in IT.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal