I spent the last two years working for the government at the U. S. Patent Office. The work environment was loosely structured – to say the least. Each group had one supervisor and about 19 examiners. The examiners ranged in GS level, which mostly meant pay and a small about of added responsibility. There was one support person for the entire group. As a whole, this environment led to a united group of examiners who mostly only had their supervisor to complain about. In retrospect, there was plenty of socializing but almost no office gossip, especially anything malicious or backstabbing.
My current job in a corporate setting is much different. I am a patent agent in the legal department. I have the lawyers above me and various admin staff below me. I don’t really “belong” with either group. It has been suggested that I not mingle too much with the admin staff or people will treat me as one. However, I am routinely asked to do things like file and check over things – admin tasks in my opinion. I decided to go my own way and I hang out with the girls – who are much more fun than the lawyers.
Then comes the gossip. Some of the laywers love to gossip – sometimes about the admin girls. The girls like to gossip about the lawyers. I have heard some crazy conversations lately. One of my favorites is about an admin and the lawyer she supports. They do not get along to say the least. I recently went to lunch with her and she spent most of the meal talking about people we work with. However, she also tells me she doesn’t like to get involved in other people’s business and doesn’t like to gossip. There was recently a big ordeal when she didn’t want to do some work asked of her by the lawyer. At this meal, she speaks of another admin who isn’t a team player because she only does what is asked of her and no more. I was sitting there wondering if she was listening to the words coming out of her mouth. Hello?!?
I must admit that work is much more interesting with all the little subplots going on, but I also feel the need to tiptoe around. I sure don’t want to be the one everyone is talking about.