Co-workers, or coworkers, are people who share a workplace with each other. The study of employee dynamics has interested many psychologists, since relationships between people who work together can get quite interesting and very complex. Many people deal with co-workers on a daily basis, because they work for companies with multiple employees.
Many people like to distinguish between a co-worker and a subordinate or supervisor, considering the first as a colleague of the same status, rather than someone higher or lower on the company food chain. Co-workers may hold similar or comparable positions, and they often have similar levels of power and authority in an organization. This sets them apart from supervisors, who can issue directives, and subordinates, who take orders. Many people hope that their equal standing with their colleagues ensures equal treatment and a good working relationship.
Because co-workers often work together in enclosed spaces for long hours, they may establish friendships that can be carried on outside the workplace. Other people may prefer to remain more aloof, focusing on being polite but not necessarily friendly with those they work with to clearly differentiate between work and personal life. These enclosed spaces can also skew the relationship in the opposite direction; some people have extremely adversarial relationships with their colleagues.
Many people are familiar with the concept of the annoying or obnoxious co-worker, as a casual glance at the employment and careers section of a bookstore indicates. Especially in a small office, it can be challenging to work with difficult personalities, leading some people to seek professional advice on handling their colleagues and office disputes. Many authorities recommend clear, open communication between people who share a workplace, to ensure that small problems are quickly resolved before they can turn into major issues. It's also a good idea for people who are applying for a job to look at the workplace to test the employee dynamics and to see how they might fit in.
When interacting with co-workers, employees should try to remember that the work environment is a unique place, and that some people may feel uncomfortable with excessive friendliness, politics, or the sharing of personal information. Co-workers can also turn on each other, especially when competition for a promotion gets fierce. It is a good idea for workers to refrain from gossiping about other people in your workplace, no matter how tempting it may be. By keeping relationships professional and neutral, employees can help prevent potential accusations of harassment or inappropriate behavior.