Bonding over cigarettes and tea

The smoking zone in any office has evolved to become the unofficial boardroom. This is the place where the power brokers of an organization meet to discuss those things that are left unsaid in the official confines, and it is all done amidst the haze of smoke and the wafting aroma of tea or coffee.

This practice can be dated to the smoking clubs of the Victorian or Elizabethan era. The most important men of their times, would gather in these swank clubs with heavy teak furniture and the finest cigars to make the deals that would change the face of the world in the days to come.

This has now evolved into the modern smoking zone where managers and executives meet on an equal footing and discuss issues that are too sensitive for the official workspace.

Some of the landmark business decisions, which are rumored, to have been brokered in a smoking zone are:

  • The name of Hewlett-Packard, founded in 1935 by Will Hewlett and Dave Packard, was decided by the flip of a coin in the garage, which served as their office, where the two were smoking.
  • The decision of IBM to stop manufacturing personal computers also is rumored to have been initially discussed in parking lots where employees would gather to smoke
  • The decision of Marlboro cigarette Company to change its target customer base from female to male was also made in a smoking zone.

There are many other deals that have been made and many transactions that have blown away with the smoke in the smoking zones. For this is the greatest aspect of the smoking zone. It provides anonymity and smothers all that occurs there, never to be made public. To be forever relegated to the realm of rumor.

Of course with the current corporate awareness of the adverse effects of smoking, the smoking zone is eventually becoming weaker as a power point in the company. Its influence will, however, never really fade away. So long as there are smokers, it will always be a place to bond and broker, over cigarettes and tea…or coffee.

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