I work in a virtual world.
I rarely see my coworkers and customers.
We operate by conference call, e-mail and instant message. Globally, in international time zones. I have worked with some people -- for years -- that I have never met. Or maybe I've met once when he or she happen to be in town on a business trip.
Do we talk about "personal stuff" like kids, spouses, home life? Of course. Successful virtual working requires that we can build relationships with people we never see face-to-face. So, yes, I talk about my kids and what they are up to in school. I offered up my husband's latest attempts to become a movie star.
I also ask my coworkers and customers about their home life. I've found out fascinating things about my coworkers, their culture, and parenting worldwide.
- A coworker in Slovakia was required to attend a fathering class at the hospital before his daughter was born. Awwww....
- My European counterparts were aghast when I returned to work after my son was only 3 months old (most of Europe has at least a year's worth of maternity leave). I'm aghast, too. Ah, well.
- I've discussed the differences between Montessori versus Waldorf style preschool with a German coworker. He'd never heard of Montessori, but his son attended a Waldorf school.
- An Indian software developer I work with recently had to move to a new work location -- his company built a brand new campus for 25,000 people. His wife was not happy about his new hour and a half commute. I was dumbfounded by a company has that many employees in one location.
- I've spoken to my boss's boss's boss about her trials and tribulations with her adopted teenage son. This gave me a new-found respect for my executive-level manager.
This post was prompted by...