“Not As Good As It Sounds…” Workplace Trap

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A large number of Korean-American salarymen and women are suffering from their employers who have successfully created a line of communication that extends beyond work hours.
Many of their employees admit that they feel excessive pressure when the bosses ask them to carpool together.

Obviously, carpooling between coworkers also mean saving gas money and taking advantage of driving through the carpool lane, but the pressure stems from the inevitability of having to discuss work related materials outside of work.

A San Fernando Valley resident who works in Los Angeles Koreatown carpools with his supervisor when he commutes. The 29-year-old said it is indeed uncomfortable to not only talk about work outside of work but also because he has to refrain from making personal calls.

“I want to call my girlfriend when I’m stuck in traffic,” he said. “My boss is sitting right next to me in the passenger’s seat, so I can’t even do that. I also really don’t want to hear about work related things outside of work. On days when my boss has a dinner appointment, drinking alcohol is often involved and I have to wait until the whole thing is over. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like I’m carpooling with someone. It feels more like being a cab driver.”

Some are even planning on moving to another city only to stay away from carpooling with their bosses who live nearby.

“My boss lives in my neighborhood,” said a Torrance resident, 25, who commutes to Koreatown. “There’s obviously a positive, such as saving gas money and taking the carpool lane to save time. So my boss proposed that we carpool. We’re supposed to switch drivers every week or month, but who knows if that promise will be kept? It’s also a hassle to try to match my schedule with someone else’s. When my current apartment lease is up, I plan on moving to a different city.”

Employees say that they are often feeling pressured to accept their bosses’ demand when asked to carpool together.

They also agreed that receiving work-related text messages beyond work hours puts them under huge stress.

The technological advancements in recent years have enabled co-workers to be in constant communication. Some employees agreed that they are simply stressed out when receiving text messages from their bosses.

“I do believe that it’s an efficient way to communicate when the text messages are exchanged during work hours,” one said. “Making demands via text messages beyond work hours, on the other hand, only frustrated people. Sometimes, I’m jealous of my coworkers from other departments who work under different bosses. I really hope my boss stops getting in contact with me outside of work hours.”

Employees also admitted that they feel driven out of their comfort zones when bosses ask them to go out for drinks or to report to work on weekends.

Woosoo Lee