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Down with the fun!

I present to your attention the translation of an article on the topic of so-called corporate fun nowadays.

Seductive fashion for fun in the workplace

One of the pleasures that comes from watching the movie “Mad Men” (“Mad Men”) - dramas about the advertising industry in the early 60s of the last century - is a comparative assessment of how much office work has changed over the years. One of the obvious changes makes humanity proud of itself: people no longer treat women as second-class citizens. But another obvious change is exactly the opposite: people have lost the art of enjoying being in the workplace.

In those days, advertising workers enjoyed simple things. They smoked in the workplace. They drank during working hours. They had romance with colleagues. They communicated not in order to make friends, but in order to get drunk together.

In our time, many companies are obsessed with "fun." Software companies in Silicon Valley install walls for backpacking right in the lobby and throw inflatable toys around the office. Wal-Mart makes its cashiers smile to everyone and always. The cult of "fun" has spread like a disgusting contagious disease. American IT-company Acclaris has in its staff "director of entertainment" (chief fun officer). In the structure of TD Bank (the American branch of the Canadian Toronto Dominion) there is a “Wow! Department” (“Wow!” Department), at the disposal of which there are costumed teams that arrange “pleasant surprises” to good employees. The company Red Bull has established a slide for riding in the London office.
Fun at work becomes a business with its own rules. In India, Madan Kataria, which positions itself as a “guru of giggling”, provides “cheerful yoga” to its corporate clients. The British company “Fun at Work”) offers “more fun than you can bear”, including replacing the reception clerk with characters from the popular (in Britain) TV series “Ab Fab”. London-based company Chiswick Park advertises itself under the slogan “enjoy-work” (“enjoy-work”) and holds events at lunchtime such as shearing sheep or pasturing geese.

The cult of fun grows in breadth and depth. The recognized champion is Google: its employees are blessed with volleyball courts, bike lanes, a yellow brick road, a dinosaur statue, regular roller hockey games and several professional masseuses. But two other companies have challenged Google: Twitter (microblogging service) and Zappos (online shoe store).

Twitter's website deliberately underlines the company’s craziness: employees wear cowboy hats and say: "Crazy things happen every day ... and this is ridiculous." The company has a team whose job is to make other employees happy: for example, to carry cold towels in the heat. Zabble boasts that “fun and little weirdness” is one of the core values ​​of the company. Zabble director Tony Hsieh shaves his head and spends 10% of his time studying what is called “science of happiness”. Once he joked that Zappos was suing the Walt Disney Company for the right to be called the “happiest place on earth." The company encourages regular "random acts of courtesy": employees line up in a noisy line and single out one of their colleagues for "praise." After that, he must wear a stupid hat for a week.

This cult is governed by the three most popular at the moment management quirks: delegation of authority, involvement and creativity. Many companies pride themselves on empowering front line workers. But studies show that only 20% of employees devote themselves to their work. And the creative ones are even less so. Managers hope that fun will magically help entice employees and make them more creative. But the problem is that as soon as it becomes part of corporate policy, the fun loses its appeal and becomes the complete opposite: at best, a waste of time, at worst, a tedious duty.

The most unpleasant in this fashion for fun is that it is mixed up on a large dose of coercion. Companies like Zappos do not just welcome the “crazy things,” but to some extent require this. Forced fun almost always gives a servitude. Twitter calls its office “Twofis”. Boston Pizza encourages employees to send "golden bananas" to those of their colleagues who can "have fun and be the best at the same time." Behind the facade of "fun" there is often a rough managerial calculation: the desire to position your company as the best among its competitors, or to improve productivity through team building. Twitter even boasts that "worked hard to create an environment that exudes productivity and happiness."

Fun should not be mandatory.

Along with imposing ersatz-fun on their employees, companies fight against other things. Some force smokers to hide like criminals. Only a few are allowed to drink at lunchtime or leave early. A whole army of lovers to interfere in the affairs of others - from lawyers to HR workers - is waging war against "romance in the office," especially between people of different ranks. Hewlett-Packard, for example, recently fired a highly successful senior executive, Mark Hurd, after one of the contractors made a very vague statement about sexual harassment (the matter was later peacefully settled). Hurd was immediately intercepted by a competitor HP - Oracle.

Fake merchants met with some resistance. For example, when Wal-Mart tried to impose alien orders on its German employees (such as a mandatory smile and a ban on romantic relationships in the workplace), he thereby provoked a guerrilla war, which ended only when it was announced in 2006 that this supermarket chain leaves Germany. But such victories are extremely rare. For most of the wage slaves who have to pretend that they are having fun at work, the only outlet is to make fun of their “tormentors”. Examples can be found in modern media. “You don’t have to be crazy to work here. On the contrary, we suggest that you take a medical test to make sure that you are normal, ”says David Brent, head of The Office. At the nuclear power plant, where Homer Simpson works, “jolly hat days” are regularly held, but safety precautions are not observed. The series “Crazy People” reminds people of the world they lost - a world in which the bosses do not think that “fun” is a management tool, and in which workers can easily skip a glass of whiskey after dinner. Let's drink for it!

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/104790/

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