December 4, 2012
Balancing holiday cheer and your career
"Now that it's December, I can't wait to decorate my cubicle!" exclaimed a friend while we sipped coffee.
Our other friend rolled her eyes, shook her head and groaned, "That's exactly why I hate the holidays at work -- people go so crazy decorating their offices, making it impossible to get anything done. And I hate those singing Santa toys!"
"Oh, don't be such a Scrooge," the first friend joked.
Although we ended up laughing about the conflicting opinions of showing holiday spirit in the office, the conversation highlighted how different people are when it comes to what's considered appropriate holiday etiquette.
Earlier in my career, I worked for a company in the Puget Sound area where entire departments had decorating competitions, resulting in a workplace wonderland even Dilbert could never have imagined.
There were full-size revolving Christmas trees with glittering lights, large musical Santa toys complete with reindeer, sleigh and dancing elves, and scented room sprays and candles so strong they could knock a world-wrestling champion on his butt.
Between all that and the roving carolers throughout cubicle-land, it was enough to make me crave the quiet confines of an office with a door to shut out all the noise (and smells).
Thinking about joining in the holiday office festivities? Here are some tips to make the Christmas season more enjoyable for you and your colleagues.
Think tasteful, not over the top. Remember, this is your office, not your home. To ensure that management perceives you as hard-working and professional, go for creative and understated -- not excessive -- when decorating.
Avoid noisy decorations. The musical Santa may seem cute the first few times someone walks by, causing it to play. But I guarantee that your co-workers (and boss) won't think so after the 40th time they hear the same song.
Leave the scented stuff at home. Be considerate of co-workers with allergies or asthma by saving the scented room spray and candles for use in your home.
Don't let the craziness distract you from work. The holidays are a festive time of year, but you still need to get your work done. No online shopping at the office.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure a work environment everyone will enjoy without damaging your relationship with co-workers or your reputation with management. Happy holidays!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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