If you’ve commuted on your bike, then you have experienced the inevitable situation of being “that” guy or gal who comes tromping into the workplace with boots on, toting their bags and potentially dripping wet – be it from sweat or rain (just depends which side of the suit you’re wet on). Your coworkers give you a strange look as you pass by – or perhaps even a dirty look. Oh, sure, they all think it’s cool that you ride when you talk about it, but the water cooler talk is often rather different.
If you’re like me, there’s something moto-related decorating your workspace as well – perhaps the background to your desktop, or some pictures on your cubicle walls. Then there’s the stash of gear in the corner, with your best attempts to hide it in the corner out of sight.
I’ll be honest – while my boss seems okay with my ‘hobby’ I often wonder what the real perception of coworkers and supervisors is. Trying to keep that balance between work and play can be a challenge when your “play” is something more than just a fun time on the weekend, but has actually become a way of life for you. Keeping a professional appearance can also be a challenge. In addition to the general interest, there are very real issues like helmet hair, wrinkled clothes, sweaty conditions, and dripping wet rain gear that we riders have to deal with. How this is perceived can have an impact on the opinions others form of us, and our work. Hopefully, we have a workplace that understands alternative means of transport and embraces our desire to get to work on our bikes.
This all came to the forefront of my attention again as I began a new job at a much larger company. My previous work was with a small company and over half of our small team was riders, so it was openly accepted. Now, I was moving to a far more traditional business environment working for a global contractor in the corporate offices of one of our clients. With thousands of employees on the campus, I was a little dismayed to see only a few bikes parked here and there. The worry of appearances, for a moment anyways, was a concern. Sure, I’d make use of the (free) shuttle most days, but at least a couple days a week I wanted the freedom to enjoy my own ride in and out of work, taking the scenic route. That would mean, however, tromping in with all of my “stuff” in tow.
I’ve been mildly surprised by the lack of reaction to be honest. Perhaps motorcycling as a means of commuting is becoming more widely accepted, or perhaps the culture here is such that it isn’t perceived as extraordinarily strange (as it had been at a previous company I had worked for in the past). Either way, it’s always interesting to see what reactions people in your workplace may have to your choices!