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When the Boss Is Away, Our Co-workers Will Play

They are eight of the best words in the business world: My boss is out of town this week.

Management has left town for an annual convention, a corporate retreat or a leadership conference, leaving employees behind to practice their copious self-management skills. It's as if the whole mood of the office has changed overnight. There's music, there's chit chat, there's tit for tat, maybe there's even some slacking on Slack. The usual, frantic work pace has been temporarily replaced by frivolity, Funyuns and the occasional high-five.

It's like that old saying: When the cat is away the mice will play.

I'm of two minds about this common issue for workplaces everywhere. It can be annoying to be the colleague on deadline while a gaggle of employees sits nearby sharing their best college stories. However, if you work in a pressure cooker work environment, then blowing off some much-needed steam makes sense. In a 24/7/365 work world that demands our constant attention, it's easy to reach a point where we need to stop, collaborate and listen to Ice, Ice Baby played loudly in an open office environment while the boss is boarding a plane. Yo, VIP, let's kick it.

Maybe you would like to tell your co-workers to grow up and act like professionals, but you don't want to come off like Parker Posey's librarian character in the 1995 classic, Party Girl. Sure, you could call out a patron for ignoring the Dewey Decimal System, but what would it buy you?

You could tattle to management, but modern technology makes it all to easy for managers to track employee productivity down to the second. So the boss will probably know if your colleague is slacking. As long as the office mood is all in lighthearted fun, the work gets done, and nobody feels uncomfortable, it's only for a few days. The boss will be back soon enough.

In the meantime, look at doing the Dab in front of the filing cabinet as an opportunity to take your nose off the grind stone. You can share a much-needed laugh with co-workers in a slightly more relaxed setting. It's a staycation for those with work dedication, a brief respite in a weary world. Besides, it's been two years since your last real vacation, right? Go ahead, do the Macarena.


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