Work makes up a large portion of one's life, with the hours spent at the workplace and the people and cultures encountered therein having a great impact on how each individual structures their routines and priorities. However, it is common that an individual may don a “professional guise" while at the workplace. This means that one's attitude can be vastly different than their personality at home.
This is one's workplace persona, and while it can help an individual maintain an effective work-focused perspective, it can also create a great deal of stress. Even as these personas are incredibly beneficial from a professional standpoint, it is important to be able to turn them off. Workplace personas, left unchecked, can impact one's personal life as workplace stresses or obligations increase over time.
What Is a Workplace Persona?
A workplace persona is the conglomeration of a few different aspects. It is the personality or identity that one creates in a professional environment. It speaks to the inherent work culture of one's field or office, as well as a manifestation of one's professional ambitions therein.
This identity is dictated by how one desires to be perceived in a professional environment. CEOs and executives may sport high-end suits and watches, or even take pride in showing off their car to establish a degree of authority or to symbolize one's experience and success. However, this desired perception can also seep into one's language, changing the words that one uses to speak to colleagues or employees to maintain this authoritative and powerful aura.
This workplace identity can cause an individual to continuously push their own abilities, further strengthening one's resolve and setting oneself up for success in future endeavors. However, maintaining this persona is extraordinarily stressful, and it carries a heavy emotional tax.
Workplace responsibilities may come home with an individual, either through continued remote work as the effects of Covid-19 continue to affect in-person workplace safety, or as emails pour in after regular hours. This persona can ingratiate itself into one's personal life, bringing with it the same intensity and stress that one would experience at the office.
Around-The-Clock Dangers of the Workplace Identity
Stress is a constant for many professions, especially for those in high-ranking executive positions whose decisions can greatly impact the lives of many other people, as well as their own job. This workplace persona can help each individual maintain an air of confident authority needed to be more sure of oneself and their decisions.
However, one's workplace identity also omits many aspects that may otherwise be needed in their life. These workplace personas do not typically associate themselves with making lifelong friends, instead electing to keep peers or employees at a safe arm's length away.
While this can be effective for a professional environment, one's personal life is built to make up for this workplace distance. One's family, personal friends, neighbors, and other social outlets can help address these interpersonal needs.
As these needs continue to be denied in an effort to maintain the facade of one's workplace identity while at home, work stresses can build with few outlets. For some, this can lead to these stresses manifesting in dangerous ways, ranging from mood swings, anxiety, and depression, to the use of addictive substances or the development of a substance abuse disorder.
This “healthy distance” that one employs at the workplace can create a schism in one's home life if one's workplace persona cannot be “turned off." This can leave an individual feeling alone amidst family or even pushing away loved ones, causing greater feelings of depression and isolation while still suffering from the intensities of one's profession.
Challenging Workplace Personas
While being unable to turn off one's workplace persona can lead to some destructive outcomes, they are not an inherently negative thing. Rather, they can be quite beneficial for one's career when balanced appropriately, meaning that dismissing one's workplace persona is not entirely necessary. Rather, creating effective barriers between one's work and familial life is paramount for one's mental and emotional health.
Turning one's phone completely off while at the dinner table or after a certain hour of the night is the best way to ensure that one cannot be pulled away from one's family time. Doing so helps eliminate the persistent itch to check one's work phone and the possibility that one may have to return to a workplace persona to cope with a professional issue. Adhering to the practice of keeping workplace communications off while taking vacation time can also ensure that one's personal time remains personal.
Lastly, it is important to treat one's personal relationships as equal in value to one's professional obligations. While taking a morning to go fishing or going out to dinner with friends may seem inconsequential, it is a necessary respite that promotes a healthy balance between personal and professional lives. This ensures that one's mental health is being tended to while rejuvenating them to perform better in the workplace.