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Do you ever talk to co-workers about non-work subjects during non-break times? Is it considered unethical? Or is it a good idea to get away from the computer at intervals and talk to another human being?

The Real PC
Thursday, October 30, 2003


Considered ethical as long as stuff gets done for both parties chitchatting. 

It could be argued that some mingling and chitchat should happen because (beancounter reasons):
1) Letting down your friends is worse than letting down your co-workers
2) Potentially less likely to leave the company
3) Better employee satisfaction.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, October 30, 2003

How bad does your work environment have to get before you even think to ask a question like this?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The environment is actually very good. I talk to people a lot and have never been criticized for it at all. I just don't know how much is considered ok by managers.

The Real PC
Thursday, October 30, 2003

"I just don't know how much is considered ok by managers."

In my experience, managers are some of the biggest practitioners of chitchat.  So I wouldn't worry about it overly much.

Jim Rankin
Thursday, October 30, 2003

"In my experience, managers are some of the biggest practitioners of chitchat."

True.  However, some managers I've worked for have a mentality that their chit-chat is important, necessary, and of value.  If an employee does it, they are slacking, letting deadlines slip, and wasting the companies money.

These seem to be the same type of managers, in my experience, who seem to think that they sh*t gold bricks.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

My manager is always working, never has time for smalltalk. On the other hand, he does not act disapproving if he catches us. However I am much more likely to talk if he isn't around.
If I have an urgent deadline (I usually don't), I work more and talk less.
I asked the question here because I would like to get a sense of how much is generally considered reasonable. Sometimes a conversation goes on for half an hour and I feel really guilty. Some people never talk except during breaks, others socialize a lot. Some spend hours at Ebay, etc., others never seem to goof off.

The Real PC
Thursday, October 30, 2003

At my company, we have a very "you are responsible for these things" type mentality. As long as you get your work done, we don't care when you're here, how much you talk or if you do lines of baking powder on your breaks. The important thing is that what needs to get done gets done on time.

Now, when it doesn't get done on time, well that's when things become a problem. Luckily, we've never had any extreme problems.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, October 30, 2003

>>others never seem to goof off.

That's because either they're so focused that they never do goof off (I've only met 2 people who seem to fall into this catagory) or they're just better at hiding their goofing off.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I would have preferred if you cut 36.3% of your chitchat if i were your boss.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Over here my manager isn't too happy with a few co-workers who seem to spend quite a bit talking, and is just fine with me and a couple other co-workers who talk about half as much. 

The difference is the person who talks the most gets almost nothing done.  While its not uncommon for me to spend an hour talking with my boss or another coworker about non-work stuff maybe once a week or so, he doesn't mind it since we get everything done, and still get it done on time.

I don't think talking about non-work stuff is a problem until it starts to affect your projects.

JoelonSoftware time at work is another example of time that he doesn't mind I spend, as long as I finish my work...

Thursday, October 30, 2003

so long as the chitchat isn't about morphic resonance, worm holes, and evidence for darwinian evolution, you should be ok.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

morphic resonance, worm holes, and evidence for darwinian evolution, you should be ok...

So Spontaneous Human Combustion is OK then? 

Thursday, October 30, 2003

As long as he gives a demonstration to back up his words

Stephen Jones
Thursday, October 30, 2003

My manager doesn't like chit chat as long as the work gets done.
However, I manage a small team in a cubicle environment in Hong Kong.  Dilbert has it good in comparison.  When chit-chat gets too loud or too long (depends on my work-load) it is very counter productive.  When other teams get 'carried away' with their talk I noticemy team seems to just give up and talk as well.  This can be damned annoying when we have dead-lines approaching.  I can only think 'the manager doesn't mind, why should I?'  But I do...

David Freeman
Thursday, October 30, 2003

I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

Guy Incognito
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

You guys are straight shooters with upper management written all over you.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Um, yeah. Im going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there. Im not entierly sure they are the caliber persons we want for upper management.

Bill Lumbergh
Friday, October 31, 2003

Office Space, sigh.

Back to the original subject.

If you produce good quality work in reasonable time then you are satisfying your moral commitment to your employer regardless of how much time you spend doing anything.

Mr Jack
Friday, October 31, 2003

How do you know what a "reasonable time" is? If I worked constantly every second I'm here, wouldn't I get more done? I would probably burn out and I wouldn't know anyone I work with, though.

The Real PC
Friday, October 31, 2003

How 'bout, how 'bout 15 minutes max for non-work-related chitchat at a time twice a day, and no limit for work-related chitchat? Of course, if it's work-related, can it really be called 'chitchat'?

Programming Drone
Friday, October 31, 2003

Chitchat needs to fit the local political culture as well as your place in the organization.

If nobody else gets up, walks around and talks socially to someone else during work hours, then you will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb if you talk during non-break times. If it's commonly done by non management people, then it's probably OK for you to do, too.

And I've been in environments where it looked fishy to talk to co-workers about "work" related subjects during work hours. Even though it was related to the task at hand, it had the appearance of BSing, since management expected little locksteps nerds all lined up neatly in their bullpens. (of course, this is the absolutely worst type of work environment.)

So, take it for what it's worth, but that's how I would handle chitchat.

Bored Bystander
Friday, October 31, 2003


Most things that are done in moderation do not cause problems. Use your judgement, and be perceptive to how your actions are affecting those around you... and adjust as needed.

Friday, October 31, 2003

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