It’s my third day at the Workplace as a Playground. I had two euphoric days enjoying the amazing space, FUNiture, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, having some small talks with different people. Today I feel strange. Thoughts bounce forth and back in my mind.
„Is this the place I want to be? What am I supposed to do here? Will my boss be OK with me just having fun and not doing any real work?”
I thought of asking somebody all these questions, but I don’t feel comfortable when I make new contacts. Don’t get me wrong, I am an easy-going person, just the first stage of getting to know people is a little awkward to me.
So I sit on a comfy couch, not feeling very comfy inside. Then I feel some presence and turn to my left side, slightly startled. The boss is sitting next to me, smiling. Is he a cat or something?!
„Today is such a beautiful spring day! Do you want to go in the mountains? There is a bench with an exclusive view you are gonna love.” he asks.
I nod while thinking: „That’s it. The boss is gonna fire me or at least reprimand me.”
We walk silently for almost an hour, enjoying the amazing nature surrounding our office, I mean Playground. Then we sit on the bench and I gasp. It’s really beautiful! But three minutes later, my brain starts working again and my worries come back.
„I am not your boss, everyone calls me Coach”, starts Coach.
I almost jump out of surprise. Does he have a gadget that reads minds?! Then he continues:
”Everybody feels awkward when they start work to play here,” he winks at me. „We’re born divine and know what our souls desire to experience and what our passion is. But this information has been deleted layer by layer. We’ve been brainwashed since our birth. Our parents and people close to us as well as the society constantly imprint on our mind how we are supposed to live our lives and what we are supposed to do. We are told what we should feel and how to react in particular situations. It gets worst at school. There we are thought to be obedient workers. Our talents are suppressed rather than discovered and developed. Especially in the western world where we are told that our goal in life is to work, work, work and be successful, I mean, have money, because this is how people measure success,” Coach spits theatrically.
„Thus we slowly forget why we are here on Earth. And this is not a big secret, though most people think it is. We come here to experience. We are here to create. We come here to enjoy life and follow our passions. That’s it. Sounds easy, but ironically it’s the most difficult thing to do. Sometimes we go so further away from our passion that it requires quite a lot of inner work and letting go.”
He pauses and we watch the breathtaking view in front of us. I feel a little bit divided in my mind. What he says rings true on some deeper level, but my mind tells me that what comes next is the scolding.
„I am not here to tell you what you have to do. And I am not here to scold you, God forbid!” this time I jump out of surprise and Coach chuckles.
„We call this talk WæP for beginners. Please relax and open your mind”, Coach pauses and takes a deep breath. So do I and sigh with relief.
„Our company is people-cantered. I know that many companies use this phrase a lot but act differently. The unit we use to measure our success is HHK. This is an abbreviation meaning happiness, health and knowledge. The higher HHK our co-players have, the more successful we are. Our revenue and business growth always come second. Always!”
„But Coach, the company seems to make so much money! You have these latest hi-tech gadgets, a luxury office and even a private jet that everybody can use!”
„Well, this is one of the bonuses of our people-centered approach. It turned out to be extremely profitable. Who knew…” answers Coach with a huge smile and casts a mischievous glance at me.
“So let me start from A and B. What we call a product here and how we develop them. The meaning of “product” in WæP is quite wide. It could be, but not limited to, a physical product or a gadget, software, a new song written, a movie produced, acquiring new skills, travelling, learning a new language…”
“Wait, Coach, how can travelling or learning a language be a product?!”
“I told you that we understand products differently than others. We develop a product only if someone is excited about it, follows their passion and loves what they are doing. We strongly encourage people to stop immediately doing what they do if the joy and passion disappear and they find themselves doing monotonous and boring work. A product is also anything that enriches a person or just brings them joy and makes them happy.”
“That still doesn’t answer how the company is so profitable…” I say thoughtfully, and Coach bursts into laughter.
“Just coming to this. When we decided to become a people-focused company, I was worried about profit, growth and scaling. I was thinking that we should make money in order to exist in this world. So I gathered everyone and asked them if someone was enthusiastic about finding ways to monetize our endeavours. No one was, but one of the co-players said he knew a person that could be. Then this guy joined us. He was so happy to do this. He said (to our surprise) that this was the job of his dreams. After a month it turned out that products made in cooperation by people who follow their true desires could be really successful. The guy, our Money Manager, sometimes murmurs (kind of his sense of humour) that being here is not a real challenge, that our products are a way too easy to sell and the main difficulty he faces is where to store our money.”
Coach stands up and stretches. After that he sits back.
“But back to the passion thing. As I told you when people start to play here, they encounter two difficulties: how to discover their true passion and how to get rid of old habits like thinking they are supposed to do something all day, that they must compete in order to succeed, and that they have to work in order to get paid,” Coach pretends to spit and winks at me.
“Hence this WæP for beginners conversation. I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. You don’t have to do anything. We have so much money that the company can function for at least ten more years even if we don’t make a single dime any more. And we are making lots of dimes, I can assure you. To help our beginners, we have developed several tools and systems. I suppose you have seen the touch screens everywhere?”
“Yeah. I tried to understand what they are for but was quite confused, to be honest’
“Ha-ha-ha, yeah, the system is new and the interface is terrible. The tech guys promised to launch a new one soon – user-friendly, as they say.
Let me tell you what the idea is. But first I will digress a little. I like to compare WæP to a living organism. Think of people as the cells and the projects/products as the organs. All work in symbiosis and sometimes one part doesn’t know what the other parts do and how it helps the whole.
That is why, I told you that learning a new language or acquiring a new skill, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, is a product. Let me give you an example of how such a new skill was recently monetized.
We have this girl who wanted to learn Japanese. We paid for her course. Two years later, she became fascinated by the Japanese culture and went to live in Japan at company’s expenses, of course. Then she met a community that somehow reminded her of the atmosphere in WæP. She told them about us and they got really enthusiastic. They decided to start a WæP branch there. As they were mostly tech guys, they started to develop a system for tapping the earth’s potential to provide free sustainable energy. In short, they used the heat deep underground to produce electricity with zero pollution and harm to earth whatsoever.
Now they have a prototype that was bought by the Japanese government and they would try to supply electric power to a small town. If it proves successful, they plan to supply power to the whole country, using the device. I am talking here of billions of potential revenue.
That is how the learning of a new language by a girl proved to be the most profitable thing we’ve ever made. Who knew!
So let me go back to the new system. When the new interface is ready, everyone can search for new courses being taught here, private lessons given by co-players as well as for active and inactive projects and how they can join the respective team or launch a completely new project.
That is the reason for the long questionnaire you filled in two days ago. You remember that we asked you for detailed information about your skills and interests and whether you are willing to teach any of them. I saw that you can teach people to make origami. So don’t be surprised if someone approaches you and asks you to teach them. Who knows, maybe the next multi-billion project will be born from an origami design!”
We both laugh heartily at the thought. We continue to sit and silently watch the crimson sunset for a while. After the sun sinks behind the hills, we head back. A few minutes before we reach the Playground, Coach diverts from the main path and enters the woods and I follow him.
“Let me show you the glider we built a few days ago. It offers extreme but exhilarating ride.”
Then we hold the handles, secure ourselves with the rope and take the ride.
“OMG! Byyyyeeeee guyyyyys…”