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Think about your typical day: You take the same route to the office, listen to a specific radio station in the car, buy a cup of coffee or newspaper from a particular vendor, and exchange a standard joke with the receptionist or security guard. You don your favorite clothes for an important meeting, consistently choose the same mug, and reward yourself with a treat for completing a dreaded task.
For the most part we choose to think about work as rational, goal-driven, and devoid of sentiment. However, the research of psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists increasingly shows that the modern workplace may be among the most complex ritual systems ever developed. Familiar practices and rituals support collaboration in the workplace and allow individuals to create meaning in their work.
Employees embrace workplace rituals as a way of gaining control over situations or to help them cope with daily stresses and strains. Rituals also have a positive impact on morale, making workers more confident and creating a sense of security. This sense of security may include scrawling our names on staplers, rulers, and hole-punchers. More importantly, it is a way for members of a work team to create and share bonds, ideals, and a sense of commitment to what they are doing.
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