Could creating a ‘fun’ workplace be damaging your business?
There has been a move in recent years, spawned from the US and in particular the boom in Silicone Valley for Tech firms, that the workplace should be a fun and happy place.
Many businesses, often in the creative and media sectors have followed suit. Workplaces now boast facilities such as bars, coffee shops and games rooms. Initiatives such as bring a pet (or child or parent) to work day are gaining popularity. Whilst employers are embracing expressions of individuality such as sitting on bean bags and providing scooters to get around or the fun slide to come down floors.
But does happiness born out of expression and creativity only come from happiness?
Is there such a thing as ‘too much fun?’
Being a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I rather think not. Would David Bowie have created his Berlin trilogy of albums if Berlin had been the epicentre of cool? Would we have seen the same creativity and moodscapes of The Smiths or Joy Division if rainy old Manchester had been more akin to the Californian coast?
So in presenting a vision of boundless fun, energy and happiness are we creating two separate issues?
1. That our output will be bathed in the same fun, energy and happiness and so will become predictable and only telling half the story.
2. That we as business owners become responsible for the happiness of our staff and colleagues.
The Podcast contributor argues (correctly in my view) that as business owners our role is to create the environment and put in place the prerequisites for happiness to happen in the workplace. But allow the one sat in the corner with their headphones on listening to The Smiths to enjoy their melancholy as not all good ideas come from a happy place.
Instead of focusing on trying to make work fun we would be better served creating an environment based on trust, creativity and innovation.
An oft repeated quote is that no one on their deathbed ever regretted not spending more time at work.
Our role is to work out what that environment looks like without the need for the beanbags.
The inspiration and source for much of these articles comes from the excellent Radio 4 Podcast of the same name which is available to download in its entirety from BBC Sounds.