I arrived late for work play today. Funny, I say this, as if we have fixed working hours or should come to work every day. In our office playground everybody comes when they want and stay as much as they want. Hurray! You would imagine empty desks. But the situation is quite different. The office is full of people from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; our boss coach often says that we have to go home earlier. Why? Our families can come here any time, have lunch, play…
Being in the office is so exciting, interesting and such fun that everyone comes almost every day (yes, including Saturdays and Sundays). Well, this happens when you give people the absolute freedom to choose what they want to do and encourage them to play and choose their challenges daily, if not hourly. And, boy, on top of all that, if you see what our office is like (link to second article), you will know why we are a bunch of workaholics.
But my work and life weren’t always like this. I remember how I applied for this job and what my first day here was. I had an ordinary job as an engineer. I was working for a construction company. I liked my job… well, sometimes. Then I saw an interesting article about this new company and the last sentence was: “We are hiring! Do you accept the challenge?” I didn’t want to change my job at that time, but the article amused me. That was why I decided to “accept the challenge” and applied. Strangely, they asked just for my phone number.
The next day a person from the company called me and said that I was hired!? I asked if they needed my resume or more information about my experience. The lady said that they didn’t need anything. I was invited to make a campus tour and after that decide whether to join their team. I thought it was quite strange!
On Saturday I went there (I remained aloof, especially when I heard that they worked on Saturdays and Sundays). The place was 15 miles away from the city (another thing I didn’t like). When I arrived, however, to be honest, I was quite impressed. First I thought I had got the address wrong because the supposed office looked like some crazy futuristic world. I was greeted by a smiling man who introduced himself as the mood improver of the company, a.k.a. HR manager, he added, seeing my perplexed expression.
The place looked amazing inside. There were climbing walls, made of something that looked like rocks and tree branches, a trampoline, roller glides; everything was colorful and the whole atmosphere was suggesting fun and… more fun. There were a few people climbing and I think I saw a studio where some guys were recording a song (or at least I thought so) others were making a movie!?
Then we went to one corner (figuratively speaking, because the place was round) where there were two hammocks and the man invited me to lie in! I started to feel a little creepy. Then the mood improver explained me how they worked (well, all the time he was saying “play”) in their organization.
He told me that this was a new type of company where work was in the form of a game, and tasks were actually challenges. There was some kind of organization, of course, but it was fluid and constantly changed according to needs.
“We have a “coach” – the word we use for the old-fashioned “boss”. He sets the course of the game (this is work) and suggests what customers might need at the moment and what should be achieved. Every player can propose a project and form a team to develop it. A Playmanager (P.manager) is chosen for every project. Some P.managers are always P.managers because they love it and their teams support them while others are elected by the team for the current project.”
“What does your company do?” – I asked. “Why do you need an engineer?”
The mood improver started to laugh:
“This is the toughest question. And the best answer is we do everything. Generally, we work like this: if you come up with an idea, you present it to your colleagues or as we call them “co-players”. It is discussed and if it is creative, innovative, doable, represents value for our customers/users, your co-players volunteer to form a team and vote for a P.manager. Then the project is lean tested, and potential customers are asked for feedback. If the feedback is positive, we further develop the project.”
“So you need engineers now?” – I asked.
“Actually, we don’t need. We would love to have you on board. We think that everybody has a talent and entrepreneurial spirit. We just have to discover it. So, for different projects people here use different set of skills and talents.”
I admit that back then I had my doubts; but this new world seemed so exciting that I finally decided to accept the challenge. Besides, I could have always returned to my previous job. Now I know I would never do it.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was involved in different activities challenges and found out that I had much more skills and talents that I had ever suspected. Gradually, from a 9-to-5 employee I turned into a workaholic – just like my co-players.
I really have to leave you, guys. Jan is back from his adventure with a ton of new stories and some exotic recipes. See you soon!
Continue reading: Episode 4