Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Worker Alienation meets Popular Culture

I need fun at work

Dennis Bakke's book Joy at Work is more or less a self-published best-seller, albiet with a marketing budget only a millionaire self-publisher can afford. The marketing campaign says, I Need Fun At Work. Workers of the World Relax is all for enjoying your work. And in fact, I agree with whatever great thinker (sorry about the vague reference this blog is not meant to be academic but off-the-cuff) said we need "novelty", "flow" and "destiny" to live fulfilled lives. Novelty: we need new things that keep our brain stimulated and a sense of renewal. Flow: we need to have things we enjoy so much we lose ourselves in them. Destiny: we need to know we have control over lives and have relative control over our lives' outcomes.

But "fun" at "work"? Have our corporations become so large and adrift that we need a 'fun' culture? Do we need fun to have a sense of accomplishment? Isnt that for our, as the French say, 'les distractions' (entertainment) on our own time? Or, say the office birthday party lunches or basketball betting pool or "did you have a nice weekend?" on the company's time?

One of the points of the book is empowering employees to make decentralized decisions, generally a good idea. And since most management theory books are very boring you cant blame a man for trying. Plus Mr. Bakke says he believes in what he sells and its selling so maybe he is indeed making some workers less alienated.

I dont know the whole thing smacks of turning the corporation and man's (woman's) labor into a Stepford suburbia. But that's just one person's opinion.