All Play + No Work (maybe a little)
For the past 6 years I have dreamed of working at Google. I remember, quite vividly, the moment when I was swept of my feet by the entrancing Google workplace environment. My Year 9 Information and Software Technology teacher set a task where we had to research different workplace cultures, and Google was at the top of the list.
I was in awe of what I found: segways, volleyball, free food, and, perhaps my favourite, the 80/20 policy (which I think has been culled since, unforunately: http://www.wired.com/2013/08/innovate-or-die-why-googles-8020-rule-is-a-red-herring/). This policy meant that while 80% of your week was to be spent doing Google-related work, the remaining 20% was put aside for ‘creative projects’, including a round of golf, or jet skiing! That’s right, an entire paid-work day for doing something you deem leisurely in order to boost innovation and imagination of employees.
This is what I want to hone in on: the homogenization of work and leisure. Mark Deuze explains this process as ‘liquid life’, where all the elements of our life begin to converge with one another in ‘a permanent flux, constant change, and structural indeterminacy’.
This idea cops a lot of slack in society because it is associated with an individuals work life streaming into their personal life. While this is a valid and relevant example of liquid life, not all have fallen captive to being workaholics.
Here’s why I dream of working there: instead of employees taking their work home with them to invade on their leisure time, Google implemented a set of tactics to bring leisure back into the workplace. Jordan Newman, a Google spokesperson said that it was the companies aim ‘to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world’.
Google’s career webpage contains a striking statement: ‘When you want people to think creatively and push the boundaries of what’s possible, their workspace shouldn’t be a drab maze of beige cubicles.’
Perhaps the entire stigma attached to ‘liquid life’ is a little outdated. ‘Life has become analogous to work. Instead of developing a lifestyle, our everyday efforts and energy go into choosing a work-style: ‘a way of working and a way of being at work’’ (Deuze, 2006). Deuze was definitely onto something, he was aware that our lives were being thrown into this mundane cycle of work and no play. I believe that he set a challenge, rather than a simple statement, suggesting something like, ‘sorry guys, but that’s just how it is now, convergence means we have to work even when we’re not supposed to’. No! Deuze realised that convergence gave us a newfound freedom. It handed us the keys to our lives and now we have the ability to arrange and tangle elements of our lives together, or pull them apart.
Liquid life doesn’t mean we have to exist with just work and no play, it realises that we can work and play at the same time!
- Burkhardt, J 2008, ‘Why Play Pays’, Residential Systems, 10 April, viewed 22 August 2014, http://www.speakercraft.com/ideas/RES_04_08_final.pdf
- Deuze, M 2006, ‘Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work’, ScholarWorks, viewed 22 August 2014, https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/3343/Liquid%20Life%20Deuze%202006.pdf?sequence=1
- Google Careers 2013, ‘Creating an office for work and play’, viewed 22 August 2014, http://www.google.com.au/about/careers/lifeatgoogle/creating-an-office-for-work-and-play.html
- Stewart, J 2013, ‘Looking for a lesson in Google’s perks’, The New York Times, 15 March, viewed 22 August 2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/business/at-google-a-place-to-work-and-play.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0