Having fun at work is often anathema. What a shame that is, too. When I was a developer, I loved coding! My coworkers were frequently fun, and always willing to be flattered into helpfulness. I was quite self-motivated of course, and eager to learn. I have my battle scars too, and recently I had to look at something I wrote in 2001, and I blushed with embarrassment when I discerned the hokey approach employed. Still, the days were too short to contain the fun of code, and I rushed to work early each morning to poke at a new problem.
Some years have passed since then, and I confess that I frequently wake up on a weekday and feel oppressed at the thought of driving to the office and diving into emails. The day is too short because there are too many problems to handle, irritating people to assuage, other teams calling me with questions, and the CIO whimsically changing my priorities. It’s amazing that my team can accomplish anything in such a chaotic environment.
I wonder what they can do when some of the detritus is removed?
Continuing to read Peopleware, I was surprised and inspired by a section discussing team building. I was initially suspicious when I read the term team building as I was part of a team building exercise on a construction project, and it went terribly wrong terribly quickly. My husband as well has shared some unfortunate experiences which involved retreats and conferences. A coworker told me of another such experience at her previous job, where she thought a little game might break the ice with a new team: she retrieved each person’s birth month and day and copied horocscopes from a book she had – then each had to guess who was associated with each day. The experiment was intended to be fun, but I am told it devolved into a strange, accusatory and ultimately unproductive exercise.
I gritted my teeth and read onwards, and was interested to find that the elaborate undertakings described above are not necessary to encourage team cohesion. Sure, they discuss Outward Bound programs and the like, but those sorts of things don’t suit my team; they are rather more fond of food and drink than rock climbing. The activity doesn’t have to be elaborate, and the less studied the better as this is team building and not coercion.
And so an idea has bubbled up: rent a banquet room at a local hotel for lunch or an early dinner.