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Observations and advice on product strategy, product management, innovation, and business culture.

Work hard, play hard, no assholes!

You're likely familiar with the phrase "work hard, play hard" – and according to a recent study published in the Open Psychology Journal, by Lonnie W. Aarssen and Laura Crimi from Queen's University, the concept has scientific merit. Aarssen and Crimi report:

Our results provide strong empirical support for the ‘work hard – play hard’ hypothesis; i.e. there is a conspicuous association between desire to work hard (reflected by our index of attraction to accomplishment) and desire to play hard (reflected by our index of attraction to leisure)

At a thriving workplace, we would expect that our colleagues, reports and supervisors all have a hunger for success and accomplishment. Given the strong correlation between attraction to accomplishment and an attraction to leisure, we should therefore foster a culture that supports leisure time for its employees, as well – "work hard, play hard" is a great mantra for a company's culture.

Last week, I heard a fantastic addition to this mantra – and I'm not sure how public this knowledge is, so I won't reveal the company name. Their mantra is:

Work hard, play hard, no assholes

They have a culture that embraces a positive work/life balance, because they know that this is key to creating successful, happy employees who will drive the company to great successes. But they also acknowledge that a company's culture can be spoiled and tainted by a few bad apples, and I absolutely love a company that, at its core, wants to reject assholes. I've seen over and over again how infectious and damaging just 1 asshole can be on a team's morale and productivity.

I assume this mantra was inspired by Robert I. Sutton's book "The No Asshole Rule". 

That said, a quick web search didn't turn up any hits on "work hard, play hard, no assholes!", so let's spread the word – please share this post if you want this mantra for your company!

Alex Westner