It appears like “a burn-out” – a highly dangerous health condition when a person overworks him/herself – is so yesterday. The new thing to worry about is …wait for it…. BORE OUTS. Some leading boredom experts (yes, that is a thing too!) say that boredom at work is a real health hazard, others claim that it has lots of upsides. I am sure that many of us would agree that most of the time boring simply sucks.
So, what happened to all those passionate dreamers that we used to be (at least on some days) when we were in school? How did office people become so seriously boring?
I think no one would argue that one of the main reasons behind office boredom is lack of passion and motivation towards the job. According to motivation expert, Suzan Fowler, there are 3 underlaying reasons why people disengage at work:
- lack of autonomy – based on our need to have choice
- lack of relatedness – based on our need to feel connected to others
- lack of competence – based on our need to be effective with day-to-day challenges
A person that experiences any of those symptoms will soon feel demotivated and that is a straight road to the land of boredom.
Sure, all those fundamentals need to be addressed by the managers who want to boost morale of their teams.
However, I can think of 3 less profound reasons why office workers are so bored:
(1) THE LACK OF AWARENESS THAT MOST OFFICE TASKS ARE INDEED BORING
I keep being surprised by all those brilliant young professionals who arrive to the company and get seriously depressed within a year because their jobs do not fulfil their expectations.
All those broken hopes automatically make them disengaged.
Things would be way simpler if it was clear from the start that office means lots of emails, slides, excel spread sheets, databases, meetings and minutes. All that sometimes without direct human contact.
This is how corporations work today!
Sure (occasionally) you will be asked to solve an issue and may be someone will even agree to listen to you, but all your brilliant thoughts literally mean nothing without a well-structured PowerPoint presentation.
(2) THE PERCEPTION THAT HAVING FUN MEANS BEING SILLY OR LAZY
I don’t know why, but it is somehow become an unwritten corporate rule that:
- a serious person is important and must be deeply thinking about something significant and is obviously working hard
- a smiling person is nice, but is probably lousy, disrespectful and clearly has nothing to do (why else would the person laugh and smile anyway, right?)
(3) THE PERSON’S DESIRE TO INCREASE HIS/HER IMPORTANCE
Because most people would rather appear serious and important than fun and easy-going they simply choose to be less fun at work.
We joke only when “appropriate” and we choose formal style over human style in everything we do in the office – just to be safe.
So here we are doing jobs we thought would be more passionate pretending to be serious and afraid to have fun when we feel like it…
At first, we just pretend to be serious, but by doing it for years many office warriors just took a habit of being ridiculously boring.
All of that is just another example that our actions eventually become our habits (Chinese proverb).