Debunking workplace myths

Most of us spend a large amount of our time in the office – working 9 to 5 like Dolly Parton, 5 days a week. However, some of the common beliefs about the places we spend our working life may not be altogether true.

In this guide, we’ve searched the web to conclude whether those curious questions about office life that play on the back of your mind are indeed fact or simply just a myth.

CONFLICT IN THE WORKPLACE

The Belief: It should be avoided – AT ALL COSTS!
The Truth: MYTH

Conflict can arise in many ways in the office – whether it’s a clashing of ideas over a project or getting caught using your co-workers favourite mug. It’s often believed that conflict should be avoided at all costs to remain professional and most productive. However, in most cases, this is definitely a myth.
(Disclaimer: don’t take this as a sign that now is the time to sassily storm around the office or be confrontational in meetings!)

Communication is crucial in any business – it allows colleagues to offer advice for each other’s ideas, allows them to grow and even inspire new ones.

However, if people shy away from criticism or conflict, these ideas could fail to improve – and in turn, fail to take the business to higher and more opportunistic places. Tension may also rise within the team if one colleague disagrees with another’s idea, or feel as if their input isn’t included.

While some believe that those who bring light to issues causing conflict are difficult themselves, if these weren’t raised then perhaps more serious issues could arise further down the line.

There’s definitely a fine line. Conflict doesn’t have to be dysfunctional. It can promote challenges and be positive, but be aware that it can also cause divisions. If you can handle conflict professionally and don’t shy from it, it can help your company grow rather than shrink.

AIR CONDITIONING IN THE OFFICE

The Belief: Air conditioning keeps you cool in those long sun-filled months (or rain-filled if you live in Britain) – and it’s harmless
The Truth: A BIT OF BOTH.

Air conditioning seems to cause numerous problems in the office. The most prevalent being the age-old argument about whether it’s turned up too high or too low. The problem? One half of the office shivering with chattering teeth and the other half complaining that it’s “too hot to even think of working.”

There’s also the common perception that air conditioning is good for you. After all, it does keep you cool in a click of a button – making you more alert and comfortable, which is a sure way to increase productivity. However, it seems that people could be sacrificing their health for a chance to feel refreshed.
If not cleaned out properly, air conditioning units could be susceptible for mould or other micro-organisms to grow – not exactly what you want to be breathing in… This could cause allergies, asthma, or even the dreaded ‘Sick Building Syndrome(SBS)’ to develop within the workplace. SBS has resulted in researchers finding a link between climate controlled buildings and illness. A study conducted in 2004 actually found that those who work in buildings with controlled climates (especially with air conditioning) took more sick days than those without.

However, this isn’t a guaranteed side effect of having that cool breeze flowing through your hair – oh no. As long as you clean your AC units every 6-12 months, you should be in the clear!

SITTING FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME

The Belief: It negatively effects your back/neck
The Truth: FACT

When in the zone, you may unconsciously find yourself sat in the same spot for a number of hours. Back, neck ache and sore eyes from constant staring at your screen are all culprits from too much sitting and not enough movement. We’ve all heard that one friend or family member warn you of how the bad effects will haunt you later in life. But, most of us will brush it off and get back to work the next day having forgotten the warning.

So how bad is it truly? Well, it’s not exactly good news – according to one study, if you sit in front of a screen for more than four hours, its expected you have an “almost 50% increased risk of death from any cause.” Another study found that “people who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease.”

All the research points to one very conclusive fact – sitting down just isn’t good for you or your body. So perhaps we should start listening to that one aunt who constantly panics over the amount of time we spend at the computer during work.

For advice on how to combat the negative effects of sitting for too long, check our blog of how to sit at your desk for better posture.

ARRIVING BEFORE/FLATTERING YOUR BOSS

The Belief: It scores major brownie points
The Truth: MYTH

While arriving early – even an hour before your boss – could demonstrate organisation, punctuality and dedication, but if your work during the day doesn’t reflect this its more than likely going to lose its effect. But paired with hard work? A definite winner.

Flattering your boss sits in the same pond. While you may think that complimenting your boss will score you serious brownie points, at the end of the day its hard work, a conscientious attitude and results that matter foremost. And anyways, everyone knows that the way to the office’s heart is by offering a tea and coffee round!

Your Turn

So there you have it – those confusing myths dissected! What are some workplace beliefs you’ve doubted in the past? If you’ve got any ideas, or other crazy myths to debunk and share – be sure to leave us a comment or get in touch via Twitter at @Workspacedb, we’d love to hear from you.