Thursday, September 5, 2013

Work is Fun, Together

                Here’s an interesting phenomenon: when we were little toddlers, work was fun until we realized it was work. Today, mowing the lawn or cleaning the house is a chore, but if you have a little baby or toddler, they’ll come up smiling and imitate us by “helping”. It’s cute and adorable and should give us a hint about how to perceive work.
                So what happens when we grow up? Why is it those little things are no longer fun and exciting? I think part of the problem is unknowingly on the parents’ side. The reason being is that the parents don’t do the chores. Could it be argued that the parents are lazy? Perhaps, but unlikely since they do plenty of work. However, because the parents leave the children to do a chore by themselves, work is not so fun. As much as a toddler may have enjoyed pretending to do chores, part of the fun came with doing it with “daddy” or “mommy” as they smiled in return and complimented us. If you go on Facebook or Youtube, you can generally find videos of new mothers videotaping their children laughing and saying, “Are you helping daddy? Good boy.”
                This doesn’t stop with work. What helped me realize this was how I perceived puzzles. When I was a little kid, I loved Sudoku puzzles because I could work them with my dad and actually help solve them. However, if I was given a Sudoku book to work on by myself, I would barely touch it. It just is not much fun to work on it alone. I enjoy working with others and having a good time doing it. The only “puzzle” I frequently do by myself is FreeCell on the computer. Even then, I enjoy it more if I see my dad playing it and I can help.
                Likewise, I can’t do crossword puzzles, but if someone else is working on them, I like to look at them. I can only answer a few clues per puzzle so it’s nice to see someone else fill in the rest. It still gives me a feeling of accomplishment and it’s more fun than doing it alone. It was certainly enjoyable as a little kid to go sit by grandpa at the kitchen table and solve 2 clues.
                Unfortunately, there’s this perception that because we are older, we can do it by ourselves. It ruins the whole work thing on multiple aspects. First, if someone is doing something they know they can do alone, they generally don’t want “help”. Second, on the flip side, no one helps us. Yes we are capable of doing work alone, but doing it with someone else is much better most of the time. The job gets done quicker and it allows you to chat with a friend or relative.
                However, the second part still requires a bit more to make the job enjoyable. First, the people need to have the right attitude. A happy mood can make hard work light. Painting a house is not as much of a chore if you are allowed to joke with somebody. Yes, jokes are not for every job. The workplace generally requires more seriousness, but that doesn’t mean people can’t be happy. While jokes are not appropriate, pleasantries should still be. Part time jobs in cafes and coffee shops, etc. are so much better when employees are allowed to have fun while working instead of “searching for work”. I can remember when I worked in a school café. I was begging for friends to come and visit to chat because it was so boring. I also enjoyed the night shifts more because the managers weren’t around, meaning the student workers could chill a little more (and have bubble wars). Yes, it’s necessary to make sure all duties are done, but so is making the environment enjoyable for employees, which could lead to happier customers.
                Now it’s important to recognize that not all work is better with multiple people. For outdoors jobs, it certainly is, but for some mental tasks, not so much. For example, in order to write this essay, I had to leave and find quiet so I could concentrate. However, there are so many jobs or chores that we do alone that wouldn’t be a problem if there was another set of hands with a good attitude.

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