Friday, September 24, 2010

Creepy Mandatory Fun

Glad I'm not the only one who finds "fun" culture of companies kind of creepy. A while back I saw a video of Zappos and how "fun" it was to work there and found myself slightly horrified to be in similar environment where I not only get to be my cooky self with my co-workers, but it's expected of me.
This cult of fun is driven by three of the most popular management fads of the moment: empowerment, engagement and creativity. Many companies pride themselves on devolving power to front-line workers. But surveys show that only 20% of workers are “fully engaged with their job”. Even fewer are creative. Managers hope that “fun” will magically make workers more engaged and creative. But the problem is that as soon as fun becomes part of a corporate strategy it ceases to be fun and becomes its opposite—at best an empty shell and at worst a tiresome imposition.

The most unpleasant thing about the fashion for fun is that it is mixed with a large dose of coercion. Companies such as Zappos don’t merely celebrate wackiness. They more or less require it. Compulsory fun is nearly always cringe-making. Twitter calls its office a “Twoffice”. Boston Pizza encourages workers to send “golden bananas” to colleagues who are “having fun while being the best”. Behind the “fun” fa├žade there often lurks some crude management thinking: a desire to brand the company as better than its rivals, or a plan to boost productivity through team-building. Twitter even boasts that it has “worked hard to create an environment that spawns productivity and happiness”.
Part of this whole "fun" phenomenon is that many people have forgotten how to be a adults, another form of the prolonged adolescents syndrome. Look, I like acting goofy and being in touch with my inner child...just not at work. Give me a cocktail in the afternoon and the expectation that I work with other adults and suddenly work won't be so

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