Cubicle Kin

Working together? Keep a boundary between office and home

When lunchtime rolls around, Peter Winch, vp, management supervisor at Arnold in Boston, heads to a nearby deli for sandwiches with his co-workers. It’s a good opportunity to talk shop and kick around ideas. Among the group of lunch regulars is an associate creative director and copywriter with whom Peter works on the FootJoy golf account, Grady Winch, who happens to be his younger brother.

“My brother and I have always been good friends, which has made working together easier,” says Peter, 34 and four years Grady’s senior. “And if he gives me any trouble, I tell my mother.”

In a tight job market, family members help each other find work, and many employers have siblings, spouses and parent-child teams on the payroll. Of course, at a shop like Arnold Worldwide, where CEO Ed Eskandarian employs three of his children, hiring two brothers is no big deal.

Family-run businesses and companies that started as family enterprises are more inclined to hire relatives, says Greg McCann, associate professor and director of the Family Business Center at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. Sixty-two percent of the U.S. workforce—about 81 million people—works in a family business, according to the Raymond Family Business Institute in Alfred, N.Y. “Family is often valued more than at large, publicly traded companies,” says McCann. “When businesses get to the second generation of employees, there’s a tremendous sense of pride when parents bring in their children.”

When his son was growing up, Neil Leinwohl, executive creative director of Korey Kay & Partners in New York, took him to shoots during summer vacations. Neil, 56, would bring home assignments, and Matthew, 29, would write headlines that impressed his father. After Matthew graduated from Emerson College in 1995 with a degree in creative writing, Neil suggested he take an advertising class at the School of Visual Arts. Five years ago, Matthew interned at Korey Kay. When a junior copywriting position opened up, he took it. “I wanted to start somewhere else first, because I wasn’t sure how it would be working with my father,” he says. “But I’ve learned a lot from him.”

“We work like a normal team,” says Neil. “Only I’m probably a little tougher on him.”

Whether consciously or not, family roles affect office relationships. “Under stress, emotional patterns are likely to come out,” says Stetson University’s McCann. “For instance, if siblings are competitive, when something goes wrong, all of a sudden they’re acting like 12-year-olds.”

Arnold’s Peter Winch concedes that his role as the responsible older brother plays out in the office. Being in different departments helps. “It works because I’m older and a supervisor,” he says. “And he’s younger and he’s creative.”

Grady Winch cites their closeness as both a pleasure and a potential pitfall of working together. “We can be totally honest about issues,” he says. “Sometimes we may be a little too open with each other. With someone else, you might bite your tongue a little bit.”

Keeping boundaries between personal and professional lives is the biggest challenge relatives face when working together, warns McCann. “The test is, at a family get-together at Thanksgiving, are you able to not talk about work?” he says. “In a board meeting, are you able to not talk about family matters?”

Jeannie Caggiano, svp and creative director at Leo Burnett, Chicago, met her cd husband, Jerry, 44, on the job. “We were five doors down from each other and at work all the time,” she says. Now the two, married in 1996, make an effort to check their personal relationship at the door. “Our rule is, don’t kiss in the zone, which starts right across the street from the building,” says Jeannie, 42. “In the building, it’s all professional.”

The Caggianos agree that it’s great to live with someone who understands the business. “We love talking about ideas and strategies. That’s fun, ” Jeannie says. “What’s harder is talking about politics and management issues.”

But wouldn’t a couple of creatives living together steal each other’s ideas? “Oh, we do,” says Jeannie. “All the time!” —