The business of working and playing together

Productivity is often a blinding slave-driver. But it needn’t be at odds with a wholesome life of leisure, fitness and overall well-being. Corporates need to realise this, and they are.

To run a business well, encourage employees to run for their well-being. | courtesy AFSOAC

The batsman is taking guard. I have the ball tightly held in my hand. Index and middle finger on top and a twisted thumb buttressing it from the bottom. From the end of my run-up, I start marching. I deliver the ball. The ball is pitched on perfect Yorker length. Leg stump uprooted, the batsman gives me a dismayed look. I sprint across the ground in celebration, watching people in the stands clapping, screaming and waving their hands at me. I am a hero. I am a Champion.


With a sunbeam piercing my eyes and shuddering alarm tone in my ears, I woke up with a memory, of the distant past, transformed into a dream. A ‘me’ of my past clashed with a ‘me’ of the present. As I readied myself for the day with the morning rituals, breakfast, journey to the office and finally at my desk, I kept on thinking about that sportsman ‘me’. Where has the champion gone? The distracting thought kept me partially ‘unproductive’ the entire day. Throughout the day, during the WebEx calls with my team members, while fixing the bullet points of the PowerPoint presentation and in course of formatting the word document, that sportsman in me was distracting the ‘corporate athlete’ in me.


‘Corporate Athlete’ is a term coined by famous author and trainer Jack Groppel. In his pursuit to describe how restive, intense and frantic are the lives of employees in most organisations and how best can employees can cope up and stay ahead of the curve, his accounts in the length and breadth of his book, The Corporate Athlete: How to Achieve Maximal Performance in Business and Life is instrumental.

Every morning when we clothe ourselves in business formals, many of us wish the stifling suit was a bit more flexible like a sweatshirt, the slim-fit trouser like a comforting pair of track pants. We wish the laptop were the cricket bat; the headset the helmet; and the pointed shiny shoes a pair of muddy zigzagged skates. That’s the employee in us in embryonic pain trying to be free playful cricketers. Like that, there are footballers, shuttlers and basketballers in plenty. Most in identity crisis.

Unlike Groppel’s book, we won’t discuss how to become corporate athletes here. We discuss whether the players in us can cohabit with the employees in us. What it feels to play and work together in our lives with no demarcation between the personal and professional.

What is it to work and play?

To work and to play is to have a workplace where one can remain billable to customers while clocking hours in the gym cardio sessions. A workplace where one acquires that important certificate in ‘Business Analytics’ simultaneously with that half-marathon finisher’s medal. A workplace where all-hands calls are considered as serious as outdoor-activity sessions.

Are these the certainties everywhere? Are all organisations equally supportive? Do companies turn thrifty when investing in fitness and wellness?

Well-managed businesses follow a management concept called the Balanced Score Card (BSC). This maintains that to sustain business growth, companies need well-rounded and comprehensive strategies. Focus towards customers and stakeholders, finance, internal processes and organisational capacity (originally called learning and growth). A four-pronged strategy where employees play a pivotal role.