24 Oct Bonus Episode: Kill the Corporate Forced Fun
Let’s kill the notion of forced corporate fun. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of bull 💩 that strikes fear in the heart of every introvert working for you…
Happy Hours… Team Building Events… Trust Falls… Lunch’n’learns… Saturday BBQs at Bob’s house… 🙅🏻♀️
A recent viral TikTok where not even the person who organized the event showed up says a lot.
Links I mention in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Every so often, I see something that just warms the cockles of my little introverted heart. Just really gets right in there and makes me feel deliciously happy. One such headline I saw recently over on entrepreneur.com reads, not even the HR manager who organized it. No one showed up for this offices Friday, happy hour, except one lone TIG talker. The byline reads, it seems no one wants to go back to the office, at least not on Fridays. Oh, this makes me so happy. Not happy about the event. That happy that this person had the moxie to go online and pull the curtain back. I feel like for those of us who are highly introverted, we’ve always hated this kind of corporate forced fun BS. Because that’s all it is. Even the supposedly events that are voluntary. There’s always that sort of Damocles hanging over your head of how is it going to be perceived if I don’t go? If I value my time at this company, if I really want to build tenure, I want to be seen as promotable, but I freaking hate the forced fun activity BS. Do I have a future here? I mean, I can remember more than one instance, where I was told things like, No, I mean, you don’t have to go to this event, but it would really look good. If you did. No, I mean, you don’t have to hang out at the coffee pot or the water cooler and gossip with your peers. But I mean, we would really take it as a sign that you value your time here and you see a future for yourself at this company. I mean, if you want to have management potential, you’re gonna have to be more social. Wow, bar. Oh, God, I don’t miss that. And here’s the thing, when it one one thing that I find so interesting about all of this is that even the more ambivert or extroverted people are now starting to question what the hell are we doing? Why? Why were we ever doing this? Why were we doing cornhole, Saturdays, or office picnics and sacrifices? Why can’t I just be I don’t know with my actual friends and family. Possible controversial statement here. You want to be careful, in my opinion, of assuming that the people you work with are your buds and your pals and your true friends. You’re all sort of thrown together in a workplace situation. And then the same way that you don’t get to choose your neighbors most of the time. You usually don’t get to choose your co workers either. So the boss may hire some sycophantic Yes, man or yes woman that just goes along to get along. They don’t seem to have any mind or backbone or opinion of their own. They just whatever the ball says they just parrot it back like an annoying little bird. You may be crunched into a cube farm with these people that you really don’t have any good vibes about you don’t feel any type of way for them. So why in the hell would you want to do Sack Race Sunday, cornhole Saturdays with them? I think for me, as an introvert, it’s always been like, no, no, that’s okay. I would really rather spend my time recharging, having some solitude having some peace and quiet. And then whenever I’m ready to be social, I want to spend time with true friends and family members that I don’t get to see because I work a lot. I to me, I don’t I don’t understand why that is difficult for other people to understand. Nevertheless, I think finally we’re getting to a point where the message is getting out. And I’m very grateful for it, really. So when we get into this article we find Friday night employee events were bad news, even in the best of times, but nearly three years into a pandemic with a workforce that’s gone hybrid. They’re even worse. One tiktoker said she showed up to work in real life and for drinks and no one was there per the Daily Dot. Not even virtually. Not even the HR manager who organized it came in she wrote in the caption, the video shows tick tock or kawaii Princess V. Looking at an invitation for barefoot Fridays office drinks Come back into the office for the culture. That tiktoker wrote as text on top of the video implying an employer or leader had said something of the sort Probably they did. The culture she wrote over the video with a shot of the empty office. The TikTok was posted around 3am Eastern Time, the video show to call in with an Australian number potentially indicating that this is where the creator or company is based. That would put the time of the tiktoks posting at about 6pm Melbourne time to people even responded to the event as virtual attendees can confirm the two virtuals didn’t show must have gotten stuck in traffic or something. The author joked in the comments, I can drink at 430 at home and I do without worrying about my ride home. Another person commented, as work has rearranged itself for the laptop set post pandemic, companies have debated endlessly about hybrid versus in person, fully versus fully remote. Some have tried to convince employees to come back to the office with perks or to collaborate more to the derision or anger of employees. Castle systems returned to Office data shows a weekly occupancy occupancy rate, let’s say that five times fast a weekly occupancy rate in 10 US cities based on average swipe ins at 47.4%. Office occupancy held steady again this week, the security firm wrote in quote, I don’t think that’s a surprise. You know, I’ve already published a blog post as well as a podcast episode saying they want you back. This is not a secret anymore. It’s not hidden information. I think is interesting, this idea of you need to come back to the office for culture. What even is company culture anymore? I mean, really, I wrote an article about that I’ll drop a link to it. I published it on medium about company culture BS, how many sins? How much bad behavior, how much nonsense is papered over or upheld? In the name of company culture? What kind of company culture is a cube farm? office chairs, fluorescent lighting, crappy carpeting, looking out the window to see Is it raining? Is it sunny outside thinking about all of the other places that you would rather be other than the office being stuck in there with somebody who’s allowed talker or somebody who wants to have inappropriate personal conversations on their phone in the midst of everyone. Maybe you have somebody that is an eternal font of germs. I’ve had coworkers like that. They just always seem to have year after year, kids in preschool that would give them every single disease known to man and they were sick all the time. And I’m like, Oh, I’ll admit it. I’ll come clean. I felt like Miranda Priestly in the Devil Wears Prada when Emily comes in. And she says something about her like Does anyone have anything I can use maybe like some hand sanitizer or some wipes. And then later in the movie, she calls her an Incubus of viral plague. I think we’ve probably all had co workers like that before that when dragon in the office sick as hell and you’re just be like, Oh, God, I’m gonna have to like bathe myself in Lysol. So I don’t miss it. I don’t miss it at all. And this idea of to collaborate more. Why can’t you do that virtually? I mean, what, what is the necessity of gathering everybody together in a conference room? To me, this is more of that corporate C suite fantasy. And that’s all it is. Everyone is around the conference table. And suddenly, they have this Eureka I have found at moment. And everybody high fives and it looks like something out of a corporate training video or some corporate stock photos. I can tell you, I’ve been in the workforce for a long time, I never had that experience. And there have been plenty of articles written to say that when people are herded into a conference room like that, most of the time that they’re sitting there, their mind is not engaged in the actual subject matter. They’re thinking about what they’re going to cook for dinner. What are the kids doing my boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse? What are they doing? How soon is this going to end? What am I going to have for lunch? Their mind is not engaged with the subject matter. There’s only so long that you can sit in a meeting and not want to fall asleep or not want to teleport yourself to some other location. So in my mind, why can it not be accomplished over a set of messages or a telephone call? Why does it need to always be let’s hurt everybody back to the office to sit under fluorescent lighting in office chairs because company culture or because collaborate more in my mind. A crappy happy hour. On a Friday afternoon. You know when you’re you should want to get home. I commuted for a long time, Friday. Any afternoon commute was always a complete booger. It didn’t matter if there was construction it didn’t matter whether or not someone had wrecked out ahead of you. There was always bumper to bumper traffic everybody’s trying to get home everybody’s trying to get out of the city who lives in the burbs or lives in a rural area. Everybody just wants out. You know, doesn’t I kind of say it all. I’m thinking back to that lyric in Synchronicity II, packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes, contestants in a suicidal race. It’s how it always felt to me that people want out they don’t want to be held up at the office to have a Friday happy hour. I mean, Exhibit A if it pleases the court, this person showed up and she was the only one the HR probably no offense to anybody. Okay, I don’t know the whole situation. But it very well may have been a Suzy cream cheese or a sunny sunshine. Who thought that would just an awesome idea. Let’s have Friday, happy hour you guys. And then even that person who organized it and who knows that they may have put the screws to everybody, it would really look good. If you showed up, let’s come and have some corporate fun. And then they didn’t even show up. The people who said that they would show up virtually didn’t even show up. It’s like, why even bother? Why put the pretense out there. For me, that kind of crap was never a perk, it was a burden. It’s like what am I going to have to do to get out of this? What am I going to have to say? What kind of hoops Am I gonna have to jump through? Am I going to be perceived as a bad person or a bad employee? If I don’t want to give up my Friday evening to be with people I’ve been with all week. I have a friend who’s significantly more of an ambivert than I am. She really likes going to concerts and big events. I would say she’s a type of person that she likes to go to to concerts and sporting events and crowded things. But then she’ll need some time that evening to decompress and be alone. So I would definitely say she’s an ambivert on the scale. Even she one time we were having lunch and we were talking about the forced corporate bullcrap. And she was like, I don’t understand why I would want to give up part of my evening or part of my weekend to be with the same people I’ve been with all week. I’ve already seen you. I’ve seen you more than I’ve seen my husband. I’ve seen you more than I’ve seen my daughter. Why would I want to go and see you some more when how, like how much contact with you people is enough? And I’m like, exactly. I don’t it’s hard for me to understand. People. Maybe they’re so lonely or they’re so unhappy at home, that they feel like they need to mandate other people to hang out with them. I find that really depressing. Obviously, I’ll have to be necessarily vague here. But not long ago, just by complete serendipity. It was the type of thing that I wasn’t looking for it. But it found me and I laughed. I think it was sort of like the universe. It’s like kind of sliding it in my direction going. Aren’t you glad that this is not your life anymore? So I saw this photo, from a place I used to work. And it was one of those awful forced fun team building get togethers, and they had put the photos out on social media. And yeah, it definitely stirred up a sense of intense gratitude for me. Thank God, I’m not there anymore. And thank God I don’t have to submit myself to forced fun. Oh, let me paint on a smile. Let me pretend that we all care about each other. Meanwhile, there are some industries and some office cultures that just seem to breed an environment of sneakiness sharpness, backstabbers, people who would throw you under the bus for a nickel. And I know there are some people who feel like, you should be able to divorce yourself from all of that. And I understand the basic logic, I think behind that, the sort of Godfather attitude of well, it’s not personal, it’s just business. This is not about you as a person. This is just what I needed to do to be successful in business. For me, I just don’t think I’m wired to be able to look the other way while someone stabs me in the back. If you’re going to stab me, I would much rather that you stab me in the chest. Be honest about what you’re doing. own up to it and let me see the knife coming so that I have some way to defend myself and prepare for the impact. But when you smile to my face and act all chumsy-wumsy and palsy-walsy and then stab me in the back. I’m not very forgiving about that. Just being honest here, I mean, I know I know. Some people will say you should forgive and forget. And you shouldn’t hold on to all of that. And to a certain degree, that’s true, you shouldn’t hold on to that for your entire life. At some point, you do have to be able to release that anger. It’s like the Buddhist idea of holding on to a hot coal, with the intention of throwing it at the person who’s offended you. Well, the only person that really gets burned in that situation is you, I get it. For me, I just wanted to get away from toxic culture, bad coworkers, possible psychopathic boss, I don’t like I don’t want to hang out with you. I don’t like you. I don’t respect you. I understand that you feel like you’re doing what you have to do to survive and business and to get ahead. But when you’ve stabbed me in the back, it doesn’t foster a sense of camaraderie. For me, I don’t like it. So no, I don’t want to sit with you at a happy hour, a team building lunch, a sack, race, whatever. And pretend that everything’s fine and dandy when it’s not. Sorry. Maybe that’s just me and nobody else but oh, I’m not about that. So I saw this article on Medium and it also reminded me of what this viral Tiktok brings up. Of course, I will drop a link to it so you can check it out for yourself. It’s written by Dr. Stuart Woolley titled Company Mandatory Fun Please stop. We read work events taking place out of hours are still work events. No matter how much fun you’re told to have. Enough now. I only recently learned the term Mandatory Fun surprisingly, this is really quite embarrassing. After what seems like a lifetime of avoiding unpleasant and undesirable situations where some workplace or other has attempted to encroach on and organize sections of my personal life in favor of me being a more productive work unit. I’ll button long enough to say, I think for those of us who are highly introverted, those terms like forced fun and Mandatory Fun are always in the back of our mind whenever we have to work a corporate job. So I too am surprised. This person hadn’t heard of it before. I’ll continue to read in olden times pre pandemic, and when training was more than being told to log into a website and watch a video on my own time. This was widely trumpeted as team building, and often involve the following events which clearly would be the antithesis of what any right thinking likely introverted and wholly progressive software engineer would choose, given the choice. Oh, but and again, long enough to say that you don’t have to be a software engineer, really, anyone in their right mind is going to choose not to do the kinds of things that Dr. Woolley is about to list off a full day event on an assault course, somewhere in the Welsh hills where instructors would bully developers over an assault course and shatter their self esteem and self worth, by shouting at them and getting them covered in mud. Oh, god. Yeah. So I will but it again, I have to say I went through a program like this. And now it wasn’t on an assault course or anything like that. But it was, it was a corporate event where the trainer was very deliberately going to do the, I will tear you down, I will break you apart, I will insult you and yell at you. So that then I can build you back up. And I just sat there like, this is not the military dude. I’m not a soldier in boot camp. When you go into the military, you know, that you’re signing up for basic training, you know that you’re signing up for boot camp and you’re gonna get your butt kicked. When you’re on a job. You know, and you’re, how old was I at that time? I think I was in my 30s You know, you’re over the age of 30. You don’t want to deal with that crap. You’re not signing up to go in the military you’re signing to work an eight to five. Monday through Friday job get real. Hold a company seminars at a local hotel, usually getting a coma inducing company update, before being asked to stand publicly on a lawn closing our eyes and leaning backward hoping that a team leader or worse a project manager would catch us management meanwhile, would take full advantage of the spa facilities and free bar just What were you expecting? They were motivated enough it seems and now I can see why. This is this is so right on the money. In the last corporate job that I had. Fortunately, I was able to miss out on the whole day company seminars and the trust falls and all that and you have no idea how grateful I am. Paintball probably the most unfun thing for any right minded individual with testosterone below hormonal crisis level and without a morbid fascination at firing weapons that their fellow employees. What could be worse than a field full of how doesn’t frustrated management types on steroids working out their workplace issues, the rest of middle management, wandering, wandering around trying to figure out how sorry. I just, I have such a vivid picture of it, trying to figure out how to load their guns or find a convenient tree trunk to hide in. And a team of developers looking for the best place to get cellular signal and a way to disable the log security door. So they can go sit in the canteen and have a bag of crisps and just wait it out until the allotted time. Oh, god, yeah, yeah. So I have been through some corporate training events, and so called team building events that were like this, where it is, all you think about is how soon can I escape, and I got really good at it. Now, size for me is partly an advantage because I am petite. So it is easier for me to disappear in a crowd than it would be, you know, if I were six foot six, for example, if I were head and shoulders above, most people in the room would probably be quite difficult. But because I’m petite and small framed, I can be gone before you ever even knew what happened. So I got very good at being able to kind of saunter around, maybe, oh, maybe I’m bout to get a drink at the water fountain, maybe I need to go use the toilet, and then I’m on the elevator and I’m gone before anybody even looks around to know. But it’s sad that we have to resort to those things because you shouldn’t be dragged to a paintball course, if you don’t want to go, you shouldn’t be dragged to some corporate boot camp. It’s stupid. It really is. So in this article, Dr. Woolley goes on to talk about now that money is tight for some of these companies and the pandemic happen. More things are being offloaded to the internet. Just go watch this video, do this training course on your own time. And why not? Now I’m going to skim down to some further points that are made that hits the nail right on the head. Do please remember, these people are not your friends. They’re your co workers. You can have friends at work. Sure, perhaps but not everyone is one. And most likely won’t even won’t be even if you try extremely hard to make them. So they may not even have your best interests at heart shock. Or literally what I said earlier in this recording, I don’t want to hang out with people who have backstabbed me mercilessly at work. No thanks. To me, that’s not friendship. A true friend is not somebody who’s waiting with a butcher knife to get you in your back is turned Hello. There’s no telling who’s watching or most likely filming, then posting it to social media and or the head of HR or worse your team leader when you’re doing your impression of them with a traffic cone on your head. This is true, I’ve have always wondered about the legality of some of these social media posts that go on where you have to pose and the cheesy picture, you know, the painting place or the paint ball court or the wherever it is they’ve made you go? And then they make you take a picture of look at how much fun we’re having. Isn’t this a great workplace? And then your picture Gets Plastered, probably without your your real true consent all over social media. I mean, I remember having a co worker for a period of time, who had gone through a horrible divorce. And he was not on Facebook. And he was like I don’t really appreciate having information put out about me or pictures put up of me at these events on Facebook because the ex could see it and cause drama for me. You know, you think about situations of like domestic violence, domestic abuse. I mean, what if somebody was being stalked? What if somebody could be hurt because their image was put up on social media without someone really thinking about it? I do I wonder about the legality of that. Alcohol does somewhat tend to surface inner feelings, which in the modern workplace may usually be carefully and tightly hidden. Hugging is awkward at the best of times, even without alcohol and you shouldn’t really be hugging anyone at work these days. This really is why working from home is such a boon in the modern office. Anyway, hugging anyone with the intense sickly aroma of an alcohol pop and explaining that they’re your best mate isn’t a good look the following day. Pretty much everything will go down in your performance review file in some way. Search your memory for how many times tags have been attached to people based on what they did at a company event. Ah, the one who did the balloon dancing. Oh, the guy who threw up over the scrum master. And even Ah, she was the one who got locked in the broom cupboard and had to eat packets of tomato sauce for three days. Yeah, that’s true too. So I have also seen situations where They would go to everybody into drinking and, oh, let’s just relax. Let’s just all chill this is this isn’t the same as being at the office, man, we’re at the bar. Now I’m not your boss, or I’m not the company president. I’m not the company owner. We’re just all hanging out, man. And then it’s like, oh, did you see what she did? Did you see who she went home with? Did you see how much she had to drink? Did you see how she can’t control her liquor? And it’s just like, Oh, my God. I mean, why would you throw an event, and then punish people for how they behaved at set event, especially if you go to them into drinking, and then that person drank to excess and got sick, or that person drank to excess and behaved in a pretty uninhibited way. I mean, this article is so spot on. And I replied back on medium, and I wrote, for me, one of the best things about self employment is the joy of missing out on the corporate forced fun, bullshit, do not miss it at all. And I don’t I really think we’re at a point where more companies are going to have to assess Do we still need to be doing this? Does anyone want to do this? I have always felt like To each his own. If a group of highly extroverted people want to get something together, it needs to be about consent. If they want to hang out if they want to have a happy hour, mazel tov you, do you? I’m not worried about it. What I don’t like is the forced fun, the Mandatory Fun, as well as the passive aggressive fun? Well, I mean, no, you don’t have to. But it would really feel good if you have to add, because essentially, what they’re saying there is if you don’t, it’ll cost you, if you don’t, you’re going on the corporate shortlist. If you don’t, then the first time you have a month where you don’t produce or the first time we need to start laying people off, you’re gone. That’s what they’re saying. Don’t make any mistake about that. And don’t be naive about it. So to me, if you want to have these events, and the highly extroverted people or someone who maybe doesn’t have a great home life, they don’t enjoy being at the house, those individuals will be the ones to show up. I find it interesting that in this story that the TikToker talks about it was a party of one. Even the organizer apparently did not show up. So I mean, in my mind, did the extroverted people say we want to do this and then they changed their mind at the last second or what happened. I just find it so hilarious that it’s like damn, if even the extroverts in the group have decided now kind of over the office Happy Hour BS. That’s that’s really telling. It is. And I know there are people who say that there’s an epidemic of loneliness. I feel like that can be mitigated by reaching out and making friends with people that you genuinely want to be friends with. For me to be a crusty old introvert, I it’s just not difficult for me to make friends. You would think otherwise. I’ve talked before on the air about a friend of mine who is highly extroverted but also painfully shy. And how I helped him like one night, I helped him introduced him to some people I was exhausted, I’d worked all day, my social battery was quite low. But I did it as a favor to him. I went introduced him to some people opened up some conversations for him, and then I left and went home. That kind of thing is just not difficult. For me. I think part of it is the general introvert feeling of my opinion of myself and my conduct is important. I’m not going to worry about what every Tom, Dick and Harry out on the street thinks of me. You know, to some degree that happens with the aging process too. When I turned 30 I remember feeling so liberated from a lot of the physical worries and physical hang ups that I had in my 20s. And when I turned 40 I remember feeling liberated from a lot of the same kind of neuroses and worry that I had in my 30s because that’s a period of time where you figured out what you want to do. Generally speaking, I’m speaking for a very broad brush here and you figured out what you want to do or you’ve settled into some type of a career. And you’re trying to climb the ladder or you’re trying to figure out what you want to do instead of climbing the ladder. And unfortunately, when you are trying to climb the ladder you are trying to get into a higher paid position or some kind of fancy title. You have to worry about what does everyone else think of me? And so for me turning 40 was such a great gift when it happened because it was like ah, I can let all of that go. I don’t have to worry about any of that crap anymore and it’s wonderful. I just don’t miss any of that. I really don’t. So for me, it’s like if the if the extroverted people want to get together and they want to do this because it’s what they want to do. That’s cool. But don’t force it on anybody don’t make it like, Well, I mean, it’s voluntary, but not really, managers need to cut that crap out your entire career. Your ability to advance at a company should not be predicated on whether or not you want to go to office happy hour. It shouldn’t be predicated on whether or not you want to have a three legged sack race or play cornhole with the same flipping people that you’ve seen all week. Like my amber verted friend said, I see the people I work with more than I see my husband and more than I see my daughter, like, let me have my evenings and weekends to be with my family. I don’t, I don’t understand why that is so difficult, for these ramrod hard headed bosses to understand. But when I saw that picture, the one that I didn’t go looking for, it just seemed to come to me. You could just read the body language, or at least I could, I just, you could tell, like, who is pasting on a fake smile for the camera. I immediately recognized a person in the photo have never met this person. This individual was not there when I was have we’ve never crossed paths. So I do not know anything about this person. But I could tell from their facial expressions and from their body language in the picture that they were, uh, Turley miserable. And I don’t know if it’s because that person is an introvert and didn’t want to be there. I don’t know if that person is probably sick and tired of being mercilessly stabbed in the back, because I doubt that’s changed. I don’t know if she did not particularly like the person that she was seated next to I never did. So maybe that was it. But I mean, you could just tell from the body language that maybe I don’t know, maybe two or three of the people acted like they genuinely wanted to be at this team building event. Literally everyone else in the picture it looked miserable. Even if they had a fake phony smile plastered on their face for optics, you could tell they were miserable. Let let me just wrap it up with this question. Can we not let this crap go? Can we not say that all right after we’ve been faced with life or death propositions and a global pandemic, we’re trying to adjust to whatever life looks like post great resignation. We’re trying to get through this economic crap storm that’s being hurled at us. Can we not let the forced fun BS go? Isn’t it time? Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.