The Joy Of Work

Today, at my office, we had a TV film crew in from Channel 4‘s Richard and Judy Show.
The intended purpose, according to an email sent round the company was

“They are planning to run a feature around a Brazilian ‘guru’ who has some radical views on working practices, including having ‘rest’ hammocks in the office, and would like to obtain the views of a selection of individuals on what they think of this and his other ideas.”

“All we ask is for a bit of co-operation from a few of you to answer a questions on camera.”

A second email was sent to clarify the situation further:

“Just to add to my previous e-mail, the sort of questions they will be asking tomorrow are:
1. If you could set your own working hours/perfect day what would it be? (eg come in at 7am, 2 hour lunch etc)
2. If you could set your own salary what would it be? (all bonus-related? etc)
3. What would you do if you were the boss for the day?”

OK. That all sounds fine. Quite reasonable.

But what happened, as far as I can see, is that they faked a lot of stuff! They were filming scripted parts for people, they had a bunch of people put on their coats and filmed them walking in through the front door as if it was morning! At one point they turned the lights off in one part of the office and filmed one guy pretending to be working late! Apparently a couple of people were taken off to a local pub at lunchtime and filmed, pretending to have an after work drink.

Now, it may be that the interviews also went on, and people were able to give their opinions, but I find the whole thing rather bizarre.

Had I done a little research I’d have found this page (third article down: The Joy Of Work: Ricardo Semler) on R&J’s site which perhaps goes some way towards explaining what was going on.

“We will also see a short film of what happened when people empowering happened for a day at web design firm, Zendor, in Manchester.”

Interestingly, if you look at the third article on this page you will see a different emphasis:

“We talk to Ricardo about how he makes this work and will see an amusing short film of how such practises worked when tried out at a web design company in Manchester.”

On top of all this, it was very disruptive, despite the original emails promise:

“I will do my best to ensure the crew go about their job whilst causing as little disruption as possible to your day.”

What with doors into the office being blocked off because of filming; and the turning off of the lights affected a large number of people. I had to wait for one person to get to a meeting because he was ‘filming’. Plus there was a general ‘buzz’ around the office which made it quite hard to concentrate at times.

Edit: I should note that the show will be going out on Monday’s Richard and Judy show. It’ll probably be on in the office (we have several TV’s scattered about which are always on) — another distraction, but I’ll have to try and tape it.

Second Edit: There is an interesting article on Ricardo Semler‘s management practices over at the BBC World Service in a completely unrelated article. His philosophy looks very interesting, and has worked very successfully in the case of his own company. Worth a read.

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