There is indeed a ‘corporate culture’ named like this. Trusting Wikipedia on this:
In their 1984 [sic!] book, Corporate Cultures, Deal and Kennedy identified a particular corporate culture which they called the ‘work hard/play hard culture’:
“Fun and action are the rule here, and employees take few risks, all with quick feedback; to succeed, the culture encourages them to maintain a high level of relatively low-risk activity.”
The book is called a classic in business literature by an amazon reviewer; so I am not surprised Work Hard/Play Hard is one of four quadrants – based on the combination of risk and feedback. If you really want to know: The high risk / intense feedback culture is called the Tough-Guy Macho Culture.
Why I am really interested in this: Work Hard – Play Hard is also a sublime German documentary I have just watched accidentally.
Here is the trailer, with English subtitles, that captures the atmosphere quite well. I could only find the full video in German or French although the links to film festivals (below) imply that a version with English subtitles does exist.
It is not a Michael Moore movie. There is no voice from the off that will explain anything. It is people and buildings, speaking for themselves. Aesthetic buildings and sleek design, however not as vibrant and colored as you might expect from articles on Google’s offices.
If this were a fictional movie, you would expect it to be set in a parallel world with a dark secret tied to technology:
All alleged human beings would be artificial life forms or clones created by the last survivors of a cyberpunk apocalypse – who happened to haven’t saved anything but their MBA courses’ lecture notes before their embarked on their lifeboat-spaceship and left the earth to found a new civilization. Or the protagonists might also be ants that have acquired some level of intelligence – so we see The Fly in a reversed version – but they struggle to find a real narrative or myth for their culture, just as Data wants to become a human being by tinkering with the emotion chip.
Their world remains grayed out and a diluted holodeck-like copy, and as a disengaged observer you tried to find the fault in the matrix. At least you believe you are disengaged – watching TV in your minimalistic concrete-and-glass hotel, relaxing during your business trip and checking your smartphone.
I found the role of background sounds most intriguing – low and perfectly normal sounds like phones and keyboards, but disturbing like HAL’s voice and the phone at the agency in 24 – all mixed with slightly unpleasant ‘music’ that sounds what I expect tinnitus to be like.
But I better leave it to the professionals – the following reviews are spot-on:
Work Hard – Play Hard is a well-conceived and aesthetically refined contribution to the debate about the future of work in postindustrial society: Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ meets psychological science fiction in a reality where many spend half of their waking lives [Copenhagen International Documentary Festival 2011]
A measured and brilliantly crafted documentary, Work Hard, Play Hard is a remarkably assured debut film from Carmen Losmann. Focusing on changing perceptions of the workplace the film mixes a clinically precise tone with a social conscience and some dark satire. [Helsinki International Film Festival 2012, quoting Laurence Boyce, Screen Daily]