Workplaces are becoming more huggy, according to a 2016 survey by staffing agency Creative Group. In the advertising and marketing sector, over a quarter of survey participants describe hugging as ‘common’ – a terrifying leap from around 5 per cent in 2011.
Horrifying op eds about the virtues of HR-friendly hugging around the world have followed. “You go in for a regular hug and then you just spin in a circle,” explains a 31-year-old receptionist with the giddy name of Felicia Flewelling of the daily hug she bestows upon her CEO, in a recent Wall St Journal story explaining the harrowing phenomenon.
In the same story Ted Baker CEO Ray Kelvin describes the 3 metre circle around his desk as “The Hug Zone”.
If I worked at Ted Baker I’d describe it as “The Plague Zone”. And would avoid it as such.
Let me record something on the internet for posterity forever, here and now, for my current colleagues and any I may have in the future.
Do. Not. Touch. Me.
I like you. I like people. I’m not a monster. But I just don’t like any of you that much.
If I’m not sleeping with you, I don’t want to hug you.
Don’t get me wrong: the Marie Claire office – like virtually every office I’ve ever worked in – is fun, lighthearted, boisterous and supportive. Almost all of us would consider each other friends as well as colleagues. We see each other outside of work, we ask after each other’s kids and holidays. If any of them had a flat tyre or a sick relative I’d rally in a second.
But I draw the line at pressing my boobs up against theirs.
Let’s put that observation on the table and shine a light right in its eyes, as it deserves. Let’s drill down into the mechanics of what a hug actually is. Forget the hug’s ‘meaning’ and ‘symbolism’ and alleged ability to create intimacy or break down barriers.
A hug, in its most literal sense, is you crushing your breasts up against another person. No really. Your boobs, which are otherwise off limits to everyone except your sexual partner or your young kids, are mooshing up against people with whom you otherwise only share the quarterly sales figures. If your boss touched your breasts with his or her hands it would land them with a firm disciplinary action and you with a hefty compensatory payout – but for some reason if you RUB BREASTS with your female colleague, or RUB YOUR BREASTS on your male colleague’s chest, that’s A-OK.
WHY DOES NO ONE EXCEPT ME FIND THIS WEIRD?
Hug fans would scoff at my squeamishness. It’s all about blurring the lines between work and life so the office becomes a fun place to be! they argue.
The next time someone says that to me I’m going to blur the lines between politeness and stamping on their foot really, really hard.
I’m a nice person to have in an office. I go to drinks after work. I bestow praise loudly and often. I clap and sing at birthdays. I make great jokes. And most of all I do my job well. You know, the main thing I’m paid to be there for.
I’m not asking for much in return. Please humour me, future bosses and future colleagues. I’m begging you. Let’s high-five instead – so I can keep my boobs to myself.