Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Workplace? Nah, we need the Lifeplace.

Too often I hear people complaining about the workplace or chattering about the differences between the workplace and the home. Many people seem to enjoy making tremendous separations between Work and Play.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

See, life's about three key concepts - Production, Play, and Provision. All three are necessary for all aspects of life, and cutting one out of any part of it makes life less fun, less whole.

Production. The art of giving something back to society. If you want your life to mean something, you produce. Writers write, engineers engineer, and If you spend a good deal of your life dedicated to one thing, you will become good at that one thing. People who are happy with their jobs almost always have combined their favorite productive activity into their working life.

Play. The art of doing something just for the hell of it, with no obvious return. While this doesn't directly create New and Better Stuff for society, it improves you and those around you as a person. It's a social activity. While Me Time has its place and is necessary for mental health, playing with others is a vital aspect of a healthy society and can really be refreshing for the mind, body, and soul. From a working standpoint, it encourages teamwork, communication, and energy, all very important concepts for Good Workers.

Provision. The art of keeping oneself and one's dear ones alive and happy. Feeding yourself and your kids (if you have them) is only part of the equation. In your working life, the ideal worker is one who cares about his colleagues, his projects, and yes, even his managers. Japan partially got this right in the Old Days before the bubble economy and after the Occupation, where every employee of a company was a member of a "family" of sorts. Caring employees are happy, more productive, and more fun to be around.

Think about it. In the perfect job, you'd have fun, have a recurring sense of accomplishment, and be a proud member of The Team, right? Everyone else would think the same too. This is much easier to do with startups, ala Silicon Valley, than it is with larger established companies, but it's still possible. Be proactive, and set up the change. You don't have to fight management to make this happen.

Make it all part of your life, who you are, who you will be. Change your workplace into a lifeplace, something that you are happy to include as part of your existence on this Earth. You'll find that everyone is happier, is more productive, and generally better people when it happens.


Cali said...

Ben -

You got it. 'Work' should be a part of our lives - not the other way around. It's high time companies treated people like adults in the workplace and opened the door for them to live the lives they want to live. That means giving people control over how they spend their time - ALL their time. Go to a movie on a Tuesday afternoon? Sure - as long as the work gets done. Spend the afternoon with your kids? Sure - as long as the work gets done. Go grocery shopping on a Monday morning? Of course - you get the picture.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
Authors of the forthcoming book "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It"

Ben Overmyer said...

Absolutely. Somewhere along the line, people began to associate results solely with quantity of time spent in the office/factory/etc. That's a bad trend that is only now starting, ever so slowly, to change.

I look forward to the day when Results becomes the most important concept in determining productivity.