To-do list: Type up expense report, call clients, respond to emails…conga line?

Google is always one of the top companies to work for and at least part of this is due to their much-publicized office culture that features “volleyball courts, bicycle paths, a yellow brick road, a model dinosaur, regular games of roller hockey and several professional masseuses.”

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s interest in the science of happiness has led to his focus on making sure his employees are as happy as possible in their Reno, NV offices.  Zappos employees “engage in regular “random acts of kindness”: workers form a noisy conga line and single out one of their colleagues for praise. The praisee then has to wear a silly hat for a week.”  Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard emphasizes work-life balance at his company, including a “Let My People Go Surfing” policy so that when the waves near their offices are good—the staff heads out to hang ten.

This type of fun at work is becoming more the norm with companies that are not only institutionalizing it through “Chief Fun Officers” or “Wow!” Departments, but also outsourcing to companies that provide “gurus of giggling”, create in-office practical jokes, and coordinate novel staff bonding activities such as sheep shearing and geese-herding. (what?)

How much of a priority for you is a fun workplace culture or an emphasis on work-life balance?

For an interesting perspective on this, read the full Economist article, Down with Fun, about this topic.

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