Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin is a typical business book. She makes a great point about having fun at work. Below is an excerpt from the book about having fun.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Fun
Why do so many organizations approach work with the seriousness of an undertaker? Some corporations, in fact, replicate a high-school algebra-class environment, where talking during class, snacking at desks, and loud laughing are not permitted. All these restrictions create an oppressive atmosphere that robs people of satisfaction, even when they’re doing meaningful work! Completing the assignment becomes the only thing that matters, and that assignment quickly grows onerous.
Yes, at times work is serious business, and treating it frivolously can have negative consequences. Many corporate offices, however, would benefit greatly if they lightened up. Numerous options exist for increasing the fun quotient of an office-and I’m not talking about bringing in cereal dispensers and a foosball table. At DoSomething.org, for example, we’ve turned Valentine’s Day into an official holiday. I want everyone at my office to have a little love in his or her life-even if that special person is Mom. I think it’s important that our company provides one day a year for love! We also have an office kickball team, which costs us nothing. We didn’t join a league; instead, we send out challenges to companies we want to get to know. What self-respecting person would turn down a game of kickball?
Rodrigo Mendes runs an institute in Brazil that uses art to mentor disabled Youths. Many of his employees are artists, so he gives them access to supplies and provides them with creative time. He even lets them bring their children to the classes they teach, a nice perk for people who are interested in art and likely want to expose their children to it. Cost to him and his org? Zilch.
Here is a simple truism that companies should keep in mind: the more fun work is, the more willing people are to go to work. The companies that complain that their people are just going through the motions or aren’t committed to company goals are generally ones that treat work with the seriousness of dentistry. Fun, on the other hand, fosters involvement and excitement, a willingness to try new things, and a desire to focus on the work rather than watch the clock.