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How To Work With Men

I am one of six girls working alongside six guys at the Fifty & Fifty office. I previously posted a blog about our differences and similarities, but now I’m going to go one step further.

Gender cohabitation in the workplace can be tricky to navigate. The ladies of Fifty & Fifty have learned a lot through working in a confined space with our male counterparts and we have compiled our observations, strategies, compromises, and general things we do (and do not do) to keep the peace.

Climate control
The thermostat in our office is a point of contention. The men like it chilly and the women prefer to not feel like we’re working in the Arctic Circle. Up until recently, we have resorted to just bitching about how cold we are and shaming them into turning the air conditioner off, but both sides have started to take steps towards harmony: the girls wear layers or move to another desk not in the direct air flow, and one of us even has a snuggie that she climbs into (me). The men have started to hold their tongue and will go home to change into shorts or go work outside on the patio when they’re hot. Compromise is the essence of diplomacy.

Bathroom etiquette
You think I’m going to talk about leaving the toilet seat up, don’t you? Nope. Instead, this is about our unspoken rules on privacy. We have two bathrooms and the locks are finicky. If the door is closed and the light is on (which you can see coming through the bottom of the door), that means it’s being used. If the door is closed and the light is off, you’re good to go. There have only been occasional snafus. Further considerations have been made by the women through not notifying the men when they’re heading to the bathroom (men apparently don’t need to know, but the ladies are all such communicators that it never dawned on us not to share). The moral: manners matter.

Food for thought
The guys rarely bring in lunch from home. Most days, they go pick up food (does their money grow on trees?). The girls tend to bring in leftovers, or ingredients to prepare restaurant-quality salads, or grocery bags full of fresh produce. We’ve learned that it’s nice to think of the men when it comes to food: offer to share your afternoon snack of frozen grapes, pick up doughnuts for the whole crew, or put your bulk-sized hummus out on the conference table with chips to let everyone graze. Sharing is caring.

Music preferences
There are lots of varying musical tastes in our office. While most of us can be found with headphones listening to whatever we want, there are times when everyone enjoys overhead songs from the office AirPort. This leads to the critical debate over what to play. So we take turns. We (usually) throw the guys a bone by not blaring our Boy Band Playlist on Spotify, and they (usually) opt to not make us suffer through EDM. The one exception came when Taylor Swift dropped her 1989 album and we insisted on playing it overhead in its entirety…twice. No matter – ultimately, music makes the people come together.

Positive reinforcement
We all have different job roles and bring our different strengths to the table when working on a client project. We’re big on collaboration and can often be found going back & forth & round & round over ideas and strategies. The #1 most beneficial thing to remember during these discussions is to compliment before you critique. Talking about what you like and appreciate that your coworker has done goes a looooooong way. Women are sensitive, but don’t be shocked when I tell you that men are too (dare I say even more so?). All it takes is some upfront mutual admiration to set the tone.

Better together
Even though we’re in each other’s faces all day all week, it’s still important to take time to foster our relationships. While there’s some natural segmentation (monthly girl lunches, bro sports conversations, staff members who are parents going on & on about offspring, etc), we are sure to set aside some team-building and togetherness. This varies from office bbq’s on our patio to banter on Slack that usually involves GIFs to concurrent online streaming of the Justin Bieber roast so we laugh simultaneously.

Enjoy this collage of our work family.

Bonus for making it down to the bottom of the post!
Some things the ladies do at work to make the day more enjoyable for the guys, even though we’re pretty sure they don’t even notice that we’re doing them.

We try not to wear heels because they’re loud when you walk on the hardwood floors. And we don’t want to be distracting.

We clean the kitchen and light candles so it looks & smells pretty.

We tell the boys when we like their clothing because it’s good for morale when they feel good about themselves.

We end online chats with exclamation points or smiling emojis because it’s just nice.

We do things we assume they won’t like/approve/appreciate but then always ask for forgiveness.

We don’t get offended when they don’t notice that we parted our hair on the other side (well, Braden notices).

We don’t feel inferior since they’re all so tall. We’re really supportive.