Paper clips to politics

By Xu Wei (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-24 10:35

The office or bang gong shi has become a riveting topic. A TV sitcom, comedy-drama, radio talk show, Websites, blogs and articles all delve into its dynamics and culture of gossip, politics, power struggles and romance.

Zhou Jie enjoys working in the office, although there's only one male colleague in her department. The public relations manager of a sculpture park says she loves the "intimate and warm ambiance."

Though women are often stereotyped as busybody instigators of quarrels and intrigues, Zhou compares her virtually all-female team to niang zi jun, a women's army - five women and one man.

"It sounds like a miracle that we get along so well and share a good spirit of teamwork," Zhou says. "We have worked together on many challenging projects and are the envy of many of our competitors."

The office is considered "a mini-society," a microcosm, a fascinating place where people spend one-third or even more of the day. Every modern office has its own particular rules and "culture."

It has its headaches, watercooler gossip, trivial power struggles, momentous power struggles, casual liaisons and torrid love affairs. Well, they don't all rise to the breathless level of great power struggles and torrid love, some are quite pedestrian.

China's young professionals, its white collars - driven, harried, up and coming or beaten down - spend so much time in the office that overwork has become a big issue. And the office can be quite a compelling place: People like to see themselves and their situations on the small screen, hear about themselves on the radio, read about themselves in journals.

Two TV series will be cashing in on the office: a daily sitcom "I Love My Job" and a daily drama "Nine to None" (not the usual hours nine to five) will be airing by the end of the year. A popular city TV talk show on CBN, "Work Stuff," hosted by Cao Qitai from Taiwan invites white collars to share their stories. The Web is full of office stuff, including blogs, and the office is the topic du jure in magazines.

For both companies and their staff, a harmonious working environment and network of people means employees stay on the job and work efficiently. A bad working environment and network, however, is bad news: Employees jump ship and work is inefficient because their heart isn't in it.

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