Modern organization culture has overridden “work hard” by “work hard play hard”, with a strong belief that this way organizations can nurture a positive work environment. Play is yet to happen outside the organization walls. A play that most probably won’t see the light with “working hard” leaving nothing in the tank for anything else to happen.

Heads up, I do not intend in this piece to encourage taking work lightly, yet I am rather keen on sharing with you what could in my opinion but also in my experience make a 9 to 6 or a long-haul career journey sustainable no matter how rugged it might get along the way.

Now, what if I dare or have the nerve to tell you that I’ve got a lifehack for you which is “work joyfully or even playfully” and that needs indeed to be normalized. This is the only bid to avoid grinding to a halt, a repetitive halt where you will eventually find yourself incapable of even rejoicing or savoring any triumph, let alone “play hard”.

Joy culture at the workplace is indeed not a sin and joy means way more than a chat and a laugh at the pantry with a colleague. And by the way, having billiards or a baby foot space doesn’t camouflage any of the chronic excretion damage and doesn’t season the employee’s dull days with any playfulness. What a futile attempt to mask ailing an organizational culture.

A happy and positive organizational culture is meant to hold a safe place where you can, and you should be going about the cut and thrust at least gracefully if not joyfully.

I am a bit loath to unveil that a sizeable majority of executives I have engaged with are frugal with fun and cheerfulness at the workplace. Even worse some stigmatize fun. I am not referring here necessarily to old fashion bosses but to whoever still carries consciously or unconsciously the obsolete legacy of work necessarily having to be painful.

Here is what I believe is more than an enough material to raise a red flag at your workplace:

Your work culture does not act as the environmental trigger for you to perform playfully and you can’t keep up with the burnout of the tiresome energy draining vibes.

Your direct boss is a grinding boss type with a pathological inability to rest, works after hours and expects you to be like them: a relentless pusher. Your boss in other words marinates you in the same grinding spirit and give you a tap on the back when you email them during the weekend.

Even worse the chairperson, board member or stakeholder passes the poisoned chalice of overload and endless hassle to your direct boss who in turns passes it to you.

Your work culture doesn’t celebrate your small milestones and is instead fixated on your big target. There is no cheerleading to fuel the long depleting journey leading to success.

Your work culture favors perfection over your sanity. Did you know that a tiny less perfect outcome with much more salvaged sanity of yours is more efficient on the long term than a dysfunctional burnout?

Your work culture intimidates you and shames you when your real answer to a new assignment is a No. Often, you end up taking the bait by saying Yes to them and No to yourself.

Your work culture is a TGIF culture. Life happens on a Friday evening, solely.

Or on another extreme, you have the syndrome of a “Sunday afternoon”. You have mixed feelings of both being purposeless out of office but also fearful of Monday morning comeback.

Your work culture believes that efficiency is about cramming every single slot of your calendar without allowing a space for the void where creativity happens. P.S: the more senior you are the more void your calendar should incorporate. Strategic thinking thrives exclusively in the void. I mean the productive relaxed void not boredom here before you get me wrong.

Your work culture induces a guilt and culprit feeling when you’re taking the day of or when you’re less productive than your think you should on a particular day.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me share with you a lowdown on the byproduct of the “work hard play hard” motto: you sweat and grind unhappily for more than 50 hours a week and when you reach after hours or the weekend or even a vacation ,your body has taken record of the stress and your nervous system has been taxed and guess what? Hasta la vista baby! No “play hard” is happening. You’re even eking out what is left of your energy so that you can show up again on another manic Monday morning.

And the cycle starts all over again…. until we decide clairvoyantly to unlearn obsolete somber cultures. Should we make up our mind on maintaining the ruthless working hours galore, we might as well decide to make that joyfully. 

Moreover, what if I tell you we can aim at transforming the workplace into an exhibition of performance? exhibitions are known to be joyous.

Oh, and what happened to “work smart not just hard”? I will save this for another piece up I guess