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Sometimes It’s All Fun And Games

September 28, 2016

Mike, HATED that.


In the Riverton building we used to have a mini basketball hoop. Mike and I sat next to each other and this stupid basketball hoop was right on the other side of our cube walls. It would literally rattle our desks when people played it.

And don’t forget the noise!

Oh yeah, it had this annoying buzzer when the timer went off. At one point we switched to nerf balls to try to make it quieter. 

And then the nerf balls started shredding, so I had nerf dust all over my desk!

I was recently at a work party. We’ve worked together for several years and many of us have moved positions or buildings. This party was a chance to come together and meet each other’s spouses and families. Even years later, the basketball hoop is famous. 

Ironically, although Mike and I both sat by the basketball hoop, it never bothered me. I have 13 children. If you couldn’t get stuff done in a noisy environment, nothing would ever get done at my house. It was fun to rib Mike about it though. 

IT, in fact the computer industry in general has a fascination with toys. Maybe it’s because many of us grew up in the video game era. Maybe its that we’re still kids at heart. For whatever reason, toys and computers seem to go together. I ran RESMARK a small startup staffed with twenty-somethings fresh out of college. The least productive week we ever had was when I bought some miniature RC cars and gave them to the team. 

For the next week, the team went a little crazy with the cars. They raced them, of course. But someone figured out that you could buy an entire track. Then, someone else figured out you could upgrade your cars. He even called around the country to find a Radio Shack with the engine upgrades. 

On the surface, this looks highly unproductive. We are at work to work, not play. And the boss in me sees that. But, I also understood that I was competing for talent. I couldn’t pay the most, I tried to make up for it with an enjoyable atmosphere. Also, IT work is unconventional. I work many weekends and nights, and am on-call 24×7. In that type of an environment, it helps to have a chance to play. 

Think about your office. Maybe you work in a marketing firm, or a call center, or a production floor. I’m guessing you don’t race RC cars with your coworkers. At the same time, I would guess that you have a chance to relax. Maybe it’s a friendly poker game after work. Maybe it’s an office football pool. Maybe it’s a mini basketball hoop. 

Whatever it is, the best workplaces provide an opportunity for employees to get together and have fun. Embrace it in your workplace. Just try not to have the desk next to the basketball hoop. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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