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Should Work Be Fun?


Robby

There are books and seminars about it everywhere. There are corporate retreats that are designed to make the office “fun.” Tech companies have toys and colorful schemes to try to inspire creativity and joy at the office. Is work supposed to be fun?

My take on this is that the word “fun” isn’t all that precise. An amusement park is fun. Baking a cake is fun. A scary movie is fun. Or actually, some of these activities are enjoyable for some people. It’s very difficult to identify something which everyone finds to be a pleasant way to pass the time. And just because your workplace has a neat visual design doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to work there.

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I don’t want to say that work should not be fun. Rather, it’s that work should be engaging and fulfilling. By “engaging”, I mean that work should mesh well with your intellectual capacity. It should be difficult enough that you are constantly facing new challenges, but easy enough that you can still make progress every day.

By “fulfilling”, I mean that work should give you a sense of personal satisfaction. That’s very different than work being fun. It isn’t necessarily satisfying to do fun things unless the work itself produces some result or builds some relationship you fund meaningful.

You can laugh at work. You can get along with your colleagues. You can hang out with them after hours. But we don’t need work to be “fun.” In fact, work that’s too much fun might not be all that productive or that satisfying. You can eat too much chocolate cake or ride on too many roller coasters. Work can be fun, but don’t demand that it always be fun. It should be work too.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Mon, November 7 2011 » Corporate Culture, Work/Life Balance

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