How to Create a Work Hard/Play Hard Culture

By Sean Gordon

Work hard. Play hard. This is a phrase that is defining the work culture of this era. Developing a healthy company culture is just part of running a business these days, and it’s becoming a bigger deal every day.

Just think of the modern office spaces we’re seeing pop-up in new startups. Or office spaces at large companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix. But work culture is more than just swanky office space.

Companies that facilitate a healthy dose of work hard, play hard are not only much more enjoyable to work for, but are proven to be more successful. Employees are more engaged with the work that they’re doing (which means better results, better sales, and better productivity), and they are making strong connections with the people around them.

It all boils down to one universal truth: people matter more than money. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s true. Keeping your employees happy will absolutely boost your company culture.

Culture starts with leadership, good or bad. It has this sort of trickle-down effect that flourishes with a great set of co-workers. The work culture at your company can make or break the experience that your team has, and it can’t be faked or manufactured. You certainly can’t buy it. More than anything, culture is a palpable attitude of work ethic that can only be transferred through leadership.

In theory, this may seem like a simple enough change to implement. But depending on where your company culture stands, it might be harder than it looks.

Need some tips? We have 5 suggestions for how to create a work hard, play hard culture in your office. 

Time Off 

One of the first things a prospective employee will want to know about your company is the policy on vacation days. Not surprisingly, this policy will make or break your work culture. Above all other things, your employees need to know that they can have the time off that they need to function. The pumping heart of industry will never cease, but it’s important to recognize that each person on your team has a life outside of those four walls. There is a delicate balance here, but a generous vacation plan will allow your team to refresh themselves as needed, which makes all the difference. This can include maternity (or paternity!) leave, sick days, mental health days, and general vacation days. The biggest requirement you should ask of your employees is enough advance notice so that nothing slips between the cracks.

Leave the Office

So it’s a beautiful day outside, and some of your team wants to explore working outdoors for the afternoon? Why not?! A change of scenery, plus some fresh air, can work wonders for a productive mind. Whether it’s the park across the street or a communal coffee shop, there’s nothing keeping you from conducting business wherever you are. Take time to treat your team to lunch, or even facilitate an outdoors team-building exercise! A friendly game of wiffle ball or group calisthenics are great ways to unwind together. Encourage mid-day walks to get those creative juices flowing. Or even build in some time for your employees to work from home. Allowing your team to work from home on Fridays makes the week feel shorter, and the workload more bearable. This is especially helpful for an industry full of creatives, who tend to thrive on less structure. Allowing some flexibility and breathing room for your employees will go further than you realize.


Amenities make everything better. If you have the resources for these kinds of benefits, they could be a valuable way to serve your employees. These could be almost anything fun or useful to the people that work for you. For example, a car maintenance area of your parking lot/deck could provide a way for you team to get their car washed, or even their oil changed, which would help free up their during the weekend for other activities. You could look into creating “play spaces” around the office, which would allow your employees to decompress at different points during the work day. A ping pong table is a great way to allow space for decompression, and a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Retro vibes are in right now, so a funlittle arcade, complete with pinball machines and Pac-Man, could be the perfect fit. Or even a small, self-curated library of books that your people can peruse throughout the day.



Maybe Don Draper and his cohorts were onto something with the office drinking. Day-drinking in the office is slowly making a comeback, and it’s a great way to encourage socialization. However, this one may not suitable for everyone, so only consider this if it fits your office culture. First, you’ll need to lay a few general ground rules that everyone will have to abide by. But if this is something that could work at your office, you might want to consider a strategic plan to roll it out. Consider this for parties, celebrating work milestones, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Best case scenario, this could facilitate a laid back work environment that could lead to great culture.

Align Priorities

At the end of the day, nothing will rally your team like coming back together under the same flag. Aligning your priorities as a group will remind your team members why they signed on in the first place, and could be the jumpstart everyone needs to reinvest in what they are doing. Consider a conference or retreat, something that will inspire and motivate your team to be the best at what they do. Making sure that you have the right people in your corner is paramount to running a successful business. Remind them that what they are doing is important, and allow some time for team building and networking. Nothing will strengthen your work culture like the shared values of a great team.

Need more tips on how to cultivate a work hard play, hard company culture? We’ve got you covered.

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