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Work-Life Balance: Balance On Skateboards and In Life, Balance As Company Culture
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Work-Life Balance: Balance On Skateboards and In Life, Balance As Company Culture - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Balance On Skateboards and In Life, Balance As Company Culture

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Balance On Skateboards and In Life, Balance As Company Culture

In the offices of Thrasher magazine, every day at 9:45 and 3:15, the iconic publication’s staff famously takes a skateboarding break, sometimes lasting as long as half an hour each. Some offices take yoga breaks, some meditation breaks, and some still offer smoking breaks. But the writers, editors, and production crew of the world’s most well-known skateboarding periodical, twice every day, pick up their boards and head into the street.

It seems like an important priority, one that makes obvious sense. In a culture where street cred is everything, Thrasher reminds itself of where it came from, what it’s about, and who its audience is. Whether or not its readership knows about this unusual office culture is nearly irrelevant: Thrasher’s credibility can’t help but to ooze into everything it produces, since the people who put the mag together are part of the same crowd.

Thrasher’s skate breaks are unusual only in their specifics. In many ways, other workplaces do something similar, especially where the office culture is tied to its mission. Church employees often begin each day with group prayer. Tech campuses, hoping to foster creativity and excitement, are famous for their ping pong tables and sundae bars. In the offices of Kayak, a search engine for travel needs, every employee picks up the phone to answer service calls, an expression of the company’s pervasive understanding that customer service is the product.

But Thrasher is different: it’s also a small example of work-life balance as part of company culture. No matter how important the work is, you have to be a real skater, and real skaters skate. The skate breaks ensure that skating culture is at the heart of the magazine’s production, but at the same time encourage a sense of balance between work and everything else.

This confluence of work, culture, and balance seems extremely difficult to pull off, but is it? In the offices of non-profit organizations, a regular break for serving others isn’t really a break—It’s more of the work employees do every day, about the same as encouraging accountants to take accounting breaks.

Still, the sense of serving a higher cause permeates most good nonprofits. Why not structure regular time for employees to attend to their pet causes? In an office hoping to foster creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration as its culture, why not encourage breaks that inspire such pursuits? For companies wishing to foster a sense of family as corporate culture, why not offer daily connect-with-family time?

These are huge, amorphous concepts, work-life balance and company culture. They often seem like impossibly difficult juggling acts for companies making the effort. Yet if it can be done in one workplace, where twice each day everyone pauses to get onto a skateboard, it can be done elsewhere, with a little bit of focus on what, for whom, and why you do what you’re all doing.

 

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Work-Life Balance: Balance On Skateboards and In Life, Balance As Company Culture - Executive Leadership Articles

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