I have bills to pay, a house deposit to save for. I’ve got a clean driving license and a savings account, National Trust membership and a John Lewis rewards card. I may not have a mortgage but I pay more than most mortgages in rent. I’ve got 20+ years of professional experience, and I’m a fucking grown up with a pretty busy life.
I do not expect to walk into a meeting room to find the tables covered in plastic and littered with craft materials and paintbrushes, with a plastic apron hanging over the back of the chair. When a woman half my age starts telling me how much fun I’m going to have painting, that is my cue to leave.
I say this on behalf of my fellow introverts, but also on behalf of anyone else who’d kind of prefer to be treated like an adult during their working day. This team building madness has to stop.
Lemme break it down:
- Do your remember, when you were a kid, that sense of disempowered fury you had when your parents made you do something you really didn’t want to do and you couldn’t figure out why? Now imagine feeling that, but as an adult.
- Wasting my work time tells me my job isn’t important.
- I didn’t do this shit as a kid. I’m damned if I’ll do it now, just to help you with your tick box exercise.
- The day of enforced socialising, with no downtime, is already flaying my soul. Throwing kindergarten activities into the mix is salt in the wound.
- Wasting my time tells me you don’t understand how important my time is to me, especially when I’ve had to travel for it. That’s a big disconnect.
- Repeatedly telling me I’m having fun doesn’t mean I’m having fun. It highlights the disjunctive nature of the experience, increases my sense of isolation and emphasises to me that there is a vast cultural difference between me and my employer.
- Forcing me to join in causes me to develop an intense, but thankfully short-lived, hatred for every single one of my colleagues. Except for the other normal people, and we bond in our mixture of adversity and disbelief.
- Forcing me (and peer pressure counts) to socialise beyond the normal 9-5 working day at the end of a team day, is actively stressful. See ‘development of short-lived hatred’, above.
- Healthy organisations are inclusive. Inclusivity allows for diversity. I would never allow some misguided belief that ‘everyone ought to show willing and participate’ to drive me in planning a day that I knew a percentage of people would find deeply uncomfortable.
- I get that y’all need to hang out together and do ‘fun’ things and bond and feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourselves. Knock yourselves out. I don’t. Respect that. If a team can’t handle that, you got bigger problems than a sodding team day will fix.