Is Work Becoming the New Church?

Before you think I have gone completely mad, ponder it for a minute. In days gone by the Church was often the heart of the community where friendships were formed, support offered and neighbours gathered together for fun and social occasions. The Church provided a sense of belonging and purpose, and helped people feel valued in their lives.

The workplace was somewhere you went to do a job, earn a living and progress through your career.

What is becoming increasingly apparent is the prevalence of strong ties with co-workers rather than neighbors. A lot of literature is emphasizing how work intrudes into family life, suggesting that social ties based in the workplace are disrupting those of family or neighbors.

So are workplaces becoming de facto communities in the sense that they are fostering close social ties? Have successful businesses who want to keep their top talent caught on to this? 

Gone are the days where we worked and lived local to our family. Most of us fly the nest when we head off to further education and, unless we boomerang back due to financial dire straits, we never return. Therefore, families become fragmented and a climate of being busy keeps us from getting involved with our immediate community.

Generation Y has a different attitude entirely. They see work as an extension of themselves and their lives in general. They are much more likely to socialise and build relationships with their colleagues – seeing them as part of their family, often when family can live hundreds or thousands of miles way.

Companies are responding to this in a variety of different ways. Since people spend so much of their waking life at the office, the way they are designed to include chill-out zones and games areas is taking this very much into account. Furniture and decoration is much more home-from-home, especially among start-ups or GAFA type businesses (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon). Kitchens are larger and if you are really lucky you will have a bar and free food. Fitness workouts are arranged in gyms together, teams enter weekend sports activities, dry cleaning and laundry services are provided. Companies are not only encouraging you to stay longer by stealth but are also building ties and support communities that are hard to break. Indeed, in some big firms sleep pods have arrived, encouraging you to take a nap to reboot.

While all this might seem really attractive, especially to younger workers who have no ties or responsibilities, the question remains is this: Is it healthy? What happens if you get fired or laid off? Your world, as you know it, could quite literally end. Or is this the future of the work place? As competition on talent increases, businesses are increasingly looking at the structure of the workplace help them attract the best talent in a global landscape.