Thursday, January 28, 2010

The No Fun at Work Rule

FootballI've got a pretty large government client at the moment. They feel better when they get to see me hangin' around the office (and can you blame them?). Problem is, hangin' around their office takes away some of the luxuries of my office. For example, my team and I like to go out to throw the football around from time to time.

Sometimes we get programmers block, or we need to talk about something, or we just need some sunshine so we mosey out to the parking lot for some ball. The other day, I asked one of my partners if it'd be okay if I brought a football to the client office. He looked at me like I was impaired.

Later that day, I was hanging out with another partner waiting to start a meeting. I said, "Hey Chuck, I'm gonna start smoking. I'm planning on smoking 6 cigarettes a day and I estimate that it'll take 10 minutes to smoke each one. Is that okay?"

Chuck said, "Well, Patrick, other than the fact that it's really odd that you are planning to start smoking, I don't really have a problem with it."

Then, I asked him, "Well, what if instead of smoking for an hour a day, Ryan and I spend 20 minutes a day throwing the football?"

Chuck leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Well, I'm going to have to think about that. I'm not sure that's going to look good to the client."

My point is, something is ass-backwards. If I want to spend an hour a day (on the clock) smoking cigarettes, nobody cares; but if I want to take a 20 minute break (off the clock) throwing the football, having a work related discussion, enjoying a brief reprieve from the stress of the work day, everybody thinks I'm going to look like I'm slacking off.

Don't get me wrong, Chuck knows that we enjoy our outdoor time back at the Emerald office. He knows there's benefit to it. Not only does it keep my team happy, but it helps keep the team cohesive and energetic. He's just concerned about how it will look to the client.

My point is, why is there this "no fun at work" rule? I've decided that I will, for the rest of my career, spend a portion of my time focussed on making sure that my employees are happy, comfortable, and healthy.

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