The Work Hard, Play Hard Office

Advertising Feature

Corporate culture is not a new concept, but it is one of the key driving forces behind a company’s success – or failure.  A well-suited culture can push a company forward, while an ill-fitting culture will hold an organisation back.

Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy introduced one of the first models of business culture in their iconic book, Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life in 1982.  When the book was first published, many thought the idea of corporate culture was just a passing fad.  However, nearly 30 years later, Deal and Kennedy’s work has become a widely accepted business concept with as much significance as things like employee satisfaction and financial responsibility.

Deal and Kennedy identified four different types of corporate culture, which they believed were influenced by two main factors:

The degree of risk associated with a company’s actions.
The speed at which businesses learn whether their actions have paid off.

Today, one of the most popular cultural models is the “work hard, play hard” model.  In this corporate climate, employees take few personal risks, but they get almost immediate feedback on their performance.  In this culture, workers have to maintain a high level of energy and stay upbeat in order to succeed.  The “work hard, play hard” culture stresses a team atmosphere in which all members are driven to excel.  The work may be serious, but employees don’t take themselves too seriously.

“Work hard, play hard” companies appeal to young, enthusiastic workers who enjoy collaborating and working in teams.  Employees often get together outside of work for social occasions, athletic pursuits and other activities.

So what does a “work hard, play hard” office look like?  Well, most of the time it doesn’t look like an office at all.

Most “work hard, play hard” offices have embraced the office refurbishment trend that focuses on community spaces, lounge areas, shared workstations, open floor plans and other rather unconventional design aesthetics like bright colours, themed rooms, and outrageous architectural details.  Workers are grouped in teams that occupy large, open work areas where they can communicate freely without the barriers of high walls, doors or cubicles.

Contests, practical jokes and company-sponsored social activities during work hours are common, providing a healthy respite from days that can be incredibly fast-paced and stressful.  These activities also help encourage workers to push harder and achieve more.

From pie-eating contests and Wii tournaments to lunchtime trivia and talent shows, “work hard, play hard” companies foster a culture in which working relationships are strengthened through bonds that are formed outside of business-related pursuits.  All is done for the good of the team.

“Work hard, play hard” companies are also known for treating workers to benefits that employees at more traditional companies almost never receive; things like monthly free catered lunches, company-sponsored clubs for employees who share interests in activities like rock climbing or guitar playing, weekly on-campus happy hours, and no dress codes.