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I have a ping pong facility in my office and I play during lunch and after work with my senior colleagues. I started playing after my first week in the office. It has been only a month since I joined and I am quite visibly eager to play it.

I don't know how my seniors take that. Though I am finishing my work on time, I feel my extra eagerness at playing may be looked at in a negative way.

Is it better that I don't show much excitement in sports at least for the first 3 or 4 months of my job?

  • 2
    Even though your extra eagreness at playing SHOULD not be looked at in a negative way, someone somewhere eventually WILL look at it that way. – MrFox Sep 11 '12 at 18:29
  • Same case here. I tend to play table-soccer (aka foosball) quite often and have become quite fond of it. – R11G Sep 24 '13 at 15:16
11

If you play on your own time (as you say, during lunch time and after work), there shouldn't be a problem.

After all, the ping pong table was supplied by the company with the intent that it will be played.

So long as playing doesn't interfere with working hours and the productivity of you and your colleagues, you shouldn't worry about it.

Of course, if someone does mention it as an issue, at that point you need to think about it, but not before.

  • 3
    That being said, people do tend to notice what others seem to be most passionate about, and also it seems to be a general human tendency to assume that people can't be passionate about much more than one thing. So they may think you care more about ping pong than work. – Nicole Sep 11 '12 at 15:57
  • @NickC - Can we really expect people to show the same level of excitement at their job as playing ping pong or enjoying lunch? If someone shows the same expression while biting into a great sandwhich while sitting at their computer, everyone would think you're watching porn. – user8365 Sep 11 '12 at 16:26
  • @JeffO I'm not saying it's fair, but I can't control what people think. Newcomers are often judged to the extreme on the interests they display when they are new. I'm talking about displaying a passion for figuring out problems in a group and getting things done quickly, not making .. um.. faces while coding. – Nicole Sep 11 '12 at 16:44
  • @NickC - I just don't think there is a risk of negative consequences for a new employee to enjoy playing ping pong. – user8365 Sep 11 '12 at 18:36
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    @JeffO "Enjoy" is different from the way the OP put it, "quite visibly eager to play it". At a new place, people are judging basically everything you are visibly eager to do. – Nicole Sep 11 '12 at 20:08
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Playing on your own time isn't a problem in principle. But being out of the range of what's normal at your workplace, especially when you're new, can be. So pay attention to your coworkers -- how often do they play and for how long? Every day or just a few times a week? Do they ever start late because they had some work to finish up?

If everyone else is playing less frequently than you and especially if you're right there at quitting time and they aren't, that can make a bad impression. It's fine to have fun during lunch and after work, particularly since your employer provided the means, but not standing out from the norm should be a priority for you until you get settled in more.

  • I like the point that this is a bit about watching what other folks do and gauging your own participation similarly. Also - be aware of whether it inhibits your focus at work, whether or not you are playing. Whether or not coworkers share in the fun, off-hours stuff - it's still not work and you want to keep chatting about it within limits during the work day. – bethlakshmi Sep 12 '12 at 13:42
3

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi. Just because your senior colleagues can play ping pong during lunch, it does not automatically mean that you can, too.

Sometimes the company provides its employees an opportunity to play, and then resents that they use it too much -- even if the "recommended amount" was never announced. People are not always rational. Maybe your boss originally imagined that you all will play ping pong only after your working hours, or only once in a week; and then you do it almost every day, and the boss is not happy with that. You don't know, unless you ask explicitly; but even then, people sometimes change their minds later.

Your senior colleagues have better estimates what they can do, how much they can risk making the boss angry, and how much the company needs them. Also they already have an image within the company as "people who did successfully this and that". You don't. Yet.

So I would recommend waiting a month or two, and then starting slowly. Or, in current situation, to slow down for a few weeks. Of course, your willingness to risk depends on how much you need this specific job. If you don't care much, you can risk more.

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    I disagree, if the senior employees can play, then everyone else should be entitled to the same privilege. It's detrimental to the organization as a whole to try to enforce rigid stratification amongst employees by prohibiting newer/lower-level employees from using shared facilities. If this is not the case, then there needs to be a clearly posted policy stating so (and the OP should consider finding another employer). – aroth Sep 11 '12 at 8:50
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    nice idealism aroth but rarely the case in reality. senior (in time or superiority) employees are usually seen to have earned more trust, flexibility or benefits. – JamesRyan Sep 11 '12 at 10:33
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    Who ever heard of an executive ping pong table? – user8365 Sep 11 '12 at 12:45
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    @JeffO - It's in the executive bathroom next to the executive massage table. – Oded Sep 11 '12 at 13:16
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The presence of the table indicates that the company cares much more about whether work gets done than they care about how and when it gets done. If you are getting along well with your colleagues and your manager, you are probably fine and have nothing to worry about. You may just be the guy that really likes table tennis. Ask one of the senior colleagues how you are doing. If there are more players than table time, be considerate about not taking more than your share. If it's the other way around, and there is often someone who would like to play but can't find an opponent, then you are probably a very welcome addition to the team.

0

Anyone who doesn't want to see me enjoy myself on my lunch hour has got a serious problem. Every company I've ever worked for (10+) has always provided lunch amenities that were either open to all employees or restricted to clients/guests. This is like worrying if you drink to much coffee.

Since you're new, make sure you allow others to play if they are waiting for the table. There could be a certain day where the boses have an unwritten reservation for their weekly game, so let them have it.

I did work at a company where employees at all levels of the company (including CFO) played basketball during lunch. There was a lot of resentment because we got an extended lunch hour. How hard would it have been for the managers (just about every department played) to allow everyone else a little extra time?

0

At the risk of sounding trite, life is too short to worry about whether your enjoyment of ping pong is seen as unusual behavior. If your choice is to assimilate quietly, then play less frequently and with less vigor. If your choice is to be memorable, then play as you so choose and use the opportunity to understand the company and its culture better.

If your performance is called into question, then it's time to discuss your leader's view of how much you play. Until then, enjoy and perhaps invite others in your group to have some fun over lunch, too.

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