Friday, April 27, 2007

Take your Daughters, Sons and Toys to work

Today was ‘take your daughters to work’ day… so I brought my son ;)
First – a train ride… That’s almost worth the price of admission to a 6 year-old (“six and a HALF!”).
Then the Subway... whoa... now that's fun!
Then daddy’s workplace (booooringggg... but, wait. what’s this? Toys!! Cool!!).

Given that I work for a company which highly values ‘fun’, this was a fun day for my son and other kids who visited, and it gave me a new appreciation for the value of offering a fun environment at work. The fear that people would be unproductive with distractions like toys, scooters, video games, ping pong, and other kids’ indulgences is an ignorant view. That view ignores not just the value letting people enjoy themselves at work, but more importantly the benefits of trusting people to have good judgement and giving people freedom to get their work done in a way which works best for them.

Funny how reality and theory are at odds here... In theory, it seems right that toys at work is a flawed concept (particularly if you employ people who are just not motivated by their actual work) – but in practice, when combined with strong motivation to achieve a company’s mission, it works and gives adults the type of environment which is analogous to, well, kindergarten! An environment for learning, for exploring, for experimenting and for playing nice with other "kids" ;) Especially when those "toys" include musical instruments and chess boards...

One key difference to kindergarten is the appreciation we adults have for fun in camparison to say, paying bills or going grocery shopping, or getting the insurance information from the guy who just cut you off and made you crash your car, or going to the doctor to find out what that pain in your chest is...
Toys at work? - I love it.

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