When Work Stops Being Fun


The main reason that I decided to retire was that work had stopped being fun. For over three decades I’d loved my work, it provided me with friends, status, accomplishment and lot’s of laughs and excitement, but gradually that changed.  Conference calls replaced face to face interactions, strangers replaced friends, accents that I struggled to understand became more common, progress became illusive, bureaucracy increased, working hours extended, accountability fragmented … the fun was being systematically squeezed out.  These changes seem to be pervading large companies, in their drive for ever lower costs, and global consistency they are perhaps inevitable, but it doesn’t mean that everyone has to like it,  I don’t, perhaps others do.

Everyone finds different kinds of work fun, in fact pretty much anything can be fun with the right team and attitude, for a while, but for me sustainable fun comes from the following working environment:

  1. Working with people that I know well
  2. Working collaboratively, face to face, in a high performance team
  3. Working with talented people and helping them develop
  4. Working in a well designed work place
  5. Having full accountability to get the job done, without lots of ‘stakeholders’ trying to ‘help’ by second guessing me
  6. Working with a small number of customers for an extended length of time, so that I got to really understand their business
  7. Working with customers in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust
  8. Doing work that had a positive impact on my users lives
  9. Being able to really take care of my team
  10. Doing challenging work that was within my capabilities
  11. Having enough time, people and funding to do a good job, invest in the future and respond to the unexpected
  12. Avoiding politics and focusing on progress

For most of my career I was able to tick off most of this wish list and feel that I was working towards the others,  for a good few years I managed all of them.  In the last decade though it’s become ever more difficult and as my health has declined I’ve become ever less tolerant.  Work always has it’s frustrations, for which the fun (and pay packet) needs to compensate, for me the time has finally come to an end.

I’m writing this blog post in St Annes Caffe Nero, it’s a lovely sunny day and I’m feeling great.  I will soon be off for a walk along the beach, enjoying the view captured in this posts photo.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

5 Responses

  1. Steve B says:

    steve – i have enjoyed your heart felt writings – our lives have many parallels – I am a data scientist in the U. S. Keep writing! I am not too far behind you 🙂

    Steve, from Michigan

  2. Steve, thanks for the feedback and I hope your immanent retirement goes well!

  3. Vince Smith says:

    I have to respond to your recent series that it is enlightening to read such clear expression in explicit terms. Also in this list I find myself ticking most of the list off. I have some differences – I can and like working alone at times. Sometimes that might be because a committee can make a horse into a camel.
    But I wish you well and am intrigued to see the blog continue as you adapt to your new circumstance.

  4. I completely agree Vince and that’s part of a well designed workplace (virtual and physical) which affords people the flexibility to work from wherever they find themselves and provides a mix of work place types to support different types of work. See my earlier post on this week on the old PTMC work place that ticked these boxes and my many other posts on workplace design. Tidy up those chickens too, I’m hoping to pop in for the tour soon!

  1. September 3, 2015

    […] at work and soldier on in an environment that had stopped being fun and didn’t look like it was going to become so again in the foreseeable […]

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