Category: Toxic worksite

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Joseppe

Joseppe

It’s been two years since I’ve been back at the office. For as long as I can remember I was always an advocate for the “work from home” model. I have my personal reasons for it: I enjoy working along with my partner our his apartment. I have a comfortable work-from-home set up with a proper chair that gives me no back pain. I have two dogs, one of which is still a puppy — instead of having meaningless chats in the office, I go for short breaks out with my doggies.

Sometimes I suffer from anxiety (an anxiety attack could literally hit me out of nowhere — so obviously I prefer to stay at home).

But i also has solid professional reasons why I believe that working from home is a benefit to the business and health. I presented my reasonings to the higher management (along with like-minded colleagues):

• I invest more time working than commuting.
• My performance increased when working from home and I’ve managed to exceed my targets.
• My mental health has improved.
• I have taken fewer sick days than in any previous years.

The higher management listened to the employees but choose not to implement work from home or hybrid model. Their argument was that employees are missing on socializing in the office and therefore the team is not as efficient. Ironically, the team’s performance was better than ever so obviously this was a lie.

The real reason is that someone “from above” just wished to control and micromanage the teams.

After coming back to the office I did what I was encouraged to do — started socializing. I noticed that the team members are nipping out nearly every other hour, having a cigarette or just going to grab a quick snack. It was obvious that the team is unhappy to be back on the company’s terms.

So they started talking. When asking the usual questions such as, “How are you?” the responses were unexpectedly honest.

“Unhappy. I wish I could work from home. This is literally killing me. I am so stressed and I feel like I do less work done…”

Coffee and lunch breaks started revolving only about one topic — unhappiness at work. This lasted for weeks until one of my colleagues got so fed up and approached the CEO directly and told him that his employees are unhappy. What followed was next was a Sherlock Holmes investigation.

The CEO appointed a team lead to find out who has started this horrible rumor around the office that his employees are unhappy. Yes, you heard me right. The company spent resources on the interrogation of the employees.

The team lead scheduled one on one calls with every member of the team to find out where did this hostility come from. Even though every single member of the team voiced that this is not a rumour, and that people are voicing their feelings, the CEO demanded to find someone to blame for “poisoning” the office spirit.

I passionately told the team lead that it’s me voicing my opinions about the toxic work “from the office” policy in the midst of the pandemic.

People fear catching viruses — being vaccinated doesn’t make them invincible. People don’t want to go back to the old normal when nothing is “normal” currently. The company is struggling to find new talents just because they don’t want to provide their employees with what they deserve — trust and respect.It puzzles me especially when the team’s performance skyrocketed whilst we all worked from home. There is no logical reasoning behind this policy.

The team leader decided that I was the one who started this “propaganda” and “gossip” at work. So, he called me out and I received a warning. “One more strike and you are out!”

I was already on my way home, anyway. But what the company didn’t expect was that many others were about to follow me.

But not everyone has the balls and the privilege to voice their opinions and just walk out. Not everyone believes in themselves that they will be able to find another job easily. And others get too comfortable and used to abusive corporations just like they get hooked up to toxic worksites. They fear suffering significant costs by challenging their managers.

Companies would benefit if employees would speak up. When employees voice their opinions, suggestions, or concerns, organizations become better at handling threats and opportunities. Unfortunately, employees remain silent with their opinions. They are afraid to share what they are really thinking and feeling. They fear the consequences of speaking the truth.

For employees to speak up the company should build a foundation of trust. The managers should be transparent and authentical— they should implement the employee’s suggestions into the company. But most importantly they should create a feeling of safety for the employees. If companies implement a witch hunt just because employees discussed issues in the workplace then obviously those who fear losing their jobs will remain silent forever.

If you aren’t allowed to honestly say “I am not okay” to your colleague/ manager then the best thing you should do is leave. Don’t wait for the company to change — you change instead. Your opinions matter, don’t let anyone silence you.

Jackson404

Jackson404

Remember the #metoo movement? It brought justice to many women. However, some people got abused within the movement which was supposed to expose the abusers and stop the abuse. Isn’t it ironic? Amber Heard is a great example. 

I was used by  a certain woman who piggybacked on my “fame” and misused my goodwill to advance her own career.

You see, not so long ago, I was one of the most respected managers in the video games industry. I worked hard to achieve this status. I helped many people progress in their careers, I  spoke at countless game conferences about various topics: self-improvement, mental health issues, equality etc.

I  was passionate about my work and cared what others thought of me. I always tried to do my best not to upset anyone. My close friends knew that I was an introvert at heart and that my love for the video games industry suppressed the “shy” inside of me. I respected everybody— I never dared to assume, and  was often very straightforward in business and in personal life.

But not everyone can handle openness.

Two years ago, a woman contacted the video game press telling them that I tried to sexually abuse her. “Whaat?!” The media picked up the story and suddenly it was all over the news. And as they say:“If it’s in the news, it must be true…”

I could not believe it. It was NOT THE TRUTH! The woman gave very little information on the alleged “sexual abuse”. All that was said was that I allegedly put my hand on her knee, and advanced on her. She told me to back off and he did. That’s it. End of the story.

“How did this make the industry news?” — I thought to myself.

But then I realized that it was the #metoo peak, and the whole industry has set up various panels and talks around sexual abuse in the industry and beyond. There were few massive events coming up and it seems that they were still looking for speakers. I mean some of these events are in big cities like Tokyo, New York and Tel Aviv.

Did I tell that we stay in Hilton hotels and have free meals and drinks? So, looks to me that the no-name girl secured her spot. Damn me!

The media used my name all over again, connecting ME to people who have committed sexual crimes and were found guilty. It was inhumane. Nobody cared about MY side of the story, or rather the story itself!

Lots of my friends and business partners abandoned me but there were people and many of them female who stood by me and asked me for the TRUTH. So I told them:

She was a junior within the industry, she wanted to make it into big companies. I invited her to a few after-parties and introduced her to the “crowd”.

We drank, had fun and around 4 AM they left to their separate hotel rooms. We continued texting that night, and she sent me nude pictures. I  flirted, she flirted back. Then I  sent her a message:

“Do you want to have sex with me?”

She said no tonight, perhaps tomorrow? I said OK. Conversation ended.

The next day I  approached her and apologized, I  said that I  was drunk and that he took the nude picture as an invitation to ask. She apologized back. No hard feelings. She asked me later that day if she can join a VIP party. I sent her the invitation.

She asked ME to pick her up, I was unable to. We mingled at the party but didn’t speak much. That’s it. A month later the news broke.

I don’t see sexual abuse; I see a desperate cry for attention.

Many influential women and men in the industry urged me to share my  side of the story, to expose the messages and set the record straight. I was reluctant. I  started losing clients, people started avoiding me. I was depressed.

My friend flew in to visit me and persuaded me to share the story with the media with all the evidence, I believed that if I spoke out too, then perhaps things would get better. People would see the full picture and things would turn around for me. Reluctantly I  spoke to the media and shared screenshots from the conversations.

Days went by, weeks, months nothing changed. The article didn’t get picked up. The clients didn’t return. I didn’t improve. The damage was done.

She, on the other, was everywhere — at every event, she spoke at the biggest conferences, attended panel discussions and landed a job in one of the biggest video game companies in the world. How convenient…

I believe that the woman got upset after I decided that I  may not want to pursue an intimate relationship with her and apologized the next day. Perhaps she got embarrassed for sending those pictures in the late hours or scared that I  would share them with others, so she attacked instead.

Whatever the reason, it was not okay. It was also not okay for the other women to just accept her on a basis “she used the tag #metoo”, without listening to both sides, looking at the evidence.

They gave me a death sentence without a trial. Since that day I disappeared from the industry and focused on my mental health. I have a farm now, I draw, I do therapy, I still help out friends in the industry and I am  very grateful for what happened as it opened my eyes. 

I realized that I  valued the opinions of other people above my own needs and that caused me detriment for years. In some sense, the woman set me free.

Now I help others — I  volunteer a lot..I stopped stressing over other thoughts and perspectives and realized how happy I  can truly be. I am focused myself and my desires and how I  can contribute. I also realized how many people were “fakes ”and weren’t really out there to support his success or well-being.

When you stop caring what other think, you reclaim your life. You regain your freedom which you’ve lost the moment you someone else’s opinion mattered more than your own.

And what happened to her?

Oh, she has left the industry too, allegedly she was fired for gross misconduct. But who knows what’s the real truth. And to be honest, who actually cares about the truth nowadays? Well, I do.