Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Tiddly-Work

Photo/Illustration: M. Wissenz/R. MacIvor
Get this. Now, corporations and businesses are taking a long look at allowing, encouraging and even scheduling times for play. Experts are lauding the value of fun activities at the office, saying it reduces staff turnover, creates a happier workplace and makes people more productive.

Utter bunk.

My father is rolling over in his grave. Just the thought of incorporating play at work would have raised eyebrows in his day. Work was for work. Period. You worked hard all day and then came home, ate dinner, watched the news and then worked at something else.

Incorporating play into the workplace is nothing but the next generation of modern-leadership-zenning-itself-into-their-happy-place gone awry. This is where the brilliant minds who gave us "Jeans Friday" and the casual workplace have lead us.

Excuse the bad play on words, but play at work will never work. First, you have to teach grown-ups what play is again. There would have to be studies commissioned, courses and workshops would have to be offered costing a huge amount of person-hours, not to mention consultants' fees. Then you have to define what types of play are allowable and during what time periods... Plus, if you have a variety of lifestyles, religions, races and ages in your office you have to take into account personal sensitivities, and age-appropriateness. Can you imagine asking an avid animal rights activist to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey? I don't think so.

What are you supposed to tell a client? "Oh, I'm sorry I can't make it at 1 pm on Thursday, that's our Tiddly-Winks time?" Or try asking your next customer to excuse the noise from the Giggle-Belly session next door... again, I don't think so.

Besides, what if you don't want to play some silly game? What if you want to actually work? Increased productivity comes from applying yourself to your job and not from shooting Nerf balls into waste basket hoops. You're supposed to be miserable at work.

I'm with my father on this one. Play is for kids. (If there are no chores to be done. Or homework. Or music lessons...)


  1. I am in a job where I feel like I kinda play tho - I do McGyver things a lot... and I laugh a lot. But I don't "play" in the conventional pre-school way. But I make sure most of my days off I play in my own unconventional sort of way :D

  2. Had one person write to say they had toys on their desk! Toys! Phfffft! What's next, a daily visit from Happy the Clown?

  3. Good Lord! I, the consummate HR professional, would be one of those developing courses and workshops, defining what types of play are allowable and during what time periods... and fielding comments from disgruntled animal rights activists who won't participate in Pinning the Tail on the Donkey.

    I gotta get out and play more when I'm not working! Just thinking about this is stressing me out.

  4. I sympathize, Lynn Marie. But don't stress out until they begin allocating space for a mini putt golf course... evidently that's an indicator of things to come.

  5. Can I agree and disagree with you? Work is work, and the corporate idea of play seems like a colossal waste of time to me. On the other hand, my happiest jobs were where my coworkers and I did play basketball with the Nerf ball and bowled down a long hallway that led to nowhere -- activities we only did when the work was done. A happy work environment can make everyone more productive. But HR solutions to play? Eww!

    Love the pictures of snow, even though I'm so sick of snow I could scream. Also really like the thoughtfulness of your post about windows.

  6. Linda, I'm so happy to hear you've apparently reformed your evil ways... :o) Chuffed about your comments about other posts. Thanks so much!

  7. Hmmm. Frankly, I'd rather hustle and get my work done so I can play somewhere else. I don't want to have to stay later at my desk because I had to participate in a morale building round of pin the tail on the donkey.

    I prefer the pressure and the sometime misery of a hard days work. I play so much better when I leave.

    Mike K

  8. Does this mean you won't have a mid-morning ping-pong break with me? : (

  9. At last! Misery rules! That's why they call it 'work'!

  10. Sorry, Patricia. I was working and missed your invitation... lol!