He does this at the ‘frustration zone’ at the Gurgaon centre of GoWork, a co-working company. It is a soundproof room littered with old computers, laptops, punching bags and skeletons of old cars, along with several plastic hammers.
Hora, a startup co-founder, says it helps him leave his frustration at office. Plus, it’s fun. Even his company’s interns go in there regularly. “They come out looking happy, and we don’t ask questions either.”
GoWork’s chief evangelist Sudeep Singh introduced the ‘frustration zone’ to help millennials— these 20-35-year-olds make up 90-95% of those sharing the coworking space—ease stress.
They’re the generation who have grown up with rapid changes in technology, and a high degree of comfort in their lives, he says. “I’ve heard of companies losing millennial employees because their coffee was bad.”
So, will a facility like the ‘frustration zone’ really help ease stress? Views are mixed.
Seema Hingorrany, a Mumbaibased clinical psychologist, sees this never-satisfied attitude mirrored among her patients too, and attributes it to a fast-paced lifestyle.
“Breaking things could be a temporary release,” she says, adding: “But it won’t work for people with serious mental conflicts.” It doesn’t address the root cause of the frustration either.
“It sounds like fun, but I don’t think it will help too much,” says Amit Sharma, 28, an engineer at an ecommerce company. “I would prefer playing a game of football or having a go on an X-Box.”
Breaking things might be a way for people to indulge their animal spirit in a safe way, says Lohit Bhatia, CEO of staffing at Ikya Human Capital Solutions. “Why do people do kickboxing or martial arts? It’s a non-destructive and non-criminal way of spending energy.”
Exposure to the best practices across the world is a factor that is driving companies to do more to keep their employees happy, he says. “The first 15 years after liberalisation was all about maximising profits, but now people realise that a happy workforce is a committed workforce.”
Online grocery store BigBasket’s HR head Hari TN thinks recreation rooms, gyms, libraries, quiet corners and rooms with bean bags are better options for destressing than breaking things. But he adds: “I guess some people find that (breaking things) a destressing activity.”
According to the millennial Sharma, needing a “frustration zone” means there’s a serious problem with the company. “Why are employees so frustrated that they need to break things?” Psychologist Hingorrany says she rarely sees young people happy any more, and blames odd working hours, lack of social support and a culture of instant gratification for it. Ikya’s Bhatia too, says that facilities and timings have improved for the worker, but, because of technology, “You always carry the office in your pocket.”
Suman Gopalan, HR head at information technology services startup Freshworks, says her overwhelmingly millennial workforce don’t separate work and life. “They don’t have a 9-to-5 concept of work … For them, life is work and work is life.” That’s why the company has a rappelling zone, rope climbing and a bunker bed, among other things for employees to de-stress.
For GoWork’s Singh, the zone is a hit among his members. He wants to bring in a car or two into it next, and “Maybe even a sledgehammer.”