Optimise for fun ✨
On Saturday I woke up early to watch the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final, New Zealand vs. England. The standard of play was astonishing (if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend catching up on ITV Hub), but on this occasion it wasn’t the impressive sporting accomplishments that stuck with me, it was the commentary.
In the post-match celebrations the commentators referred to the Black Ferns’ joy; how music, friendship and connection are not only part of their downtime but an essential element to being a high performing team.
Dancing, music, laughter: Joyful Black Ferns bus rides have been a culture shock for Wayne Smith
Rugby World Cup final: Black Ferns v England. Where: Eden Park, Auckland. When: Saturday, November 12, 7:30pm. Live…
This flies in the face of ‘hustle culture’, which tells us that in order to be successful everything has to be hard and we must make sacrifices: early mornings, long hours, skipping social occasions to work on side projects.
To that I say, where is the fun? Where is the joy? If I’m going to be working for another 40+ years I want to enjoy it, not suffer through it.
It made me emotional watching the post-match interviews and seeing the broad smiles. The Black Ferns are modelling the culture I’d like to see more of: joy and excellence. Joy and hard work. Joy and respect. I can’t recall seeing this before on the big screen, not from a group of women, and certainly not in a manner that is being widely celebrated.
My work is serious, and I take it extremely seriously, but that seriousness does not have to come at the exclusion of all fun. In fact it’s the small moments of lightness that keep us going through the most difficult of days. Whether it’s a good morning GIF or an amusing greeting to open stand up, it takes nothing from the work but it makes the experience of work that much more bearable.
Part of the joy of remote working for me has been the breakdown of workplace dress code norms. Since we’ve all been working from home during the pandemic (many people also looking after loved ones, children and pets) we’ve let our guards down and shunned the stuffy office dress. It’s now acceptable to wear bright clothes and casual styles. I’ve even got sparkly highlights in my hair; you can’t see them on video calls but they make me happy.
Clearly fun is not appropriate in all scenarios and settings, but I wonder how different our workplaces would be if we optimised for fun?