I read some years ago in the book A Great Place to Work that a good company allows people to not "be a part of the family" -- it's ok if the workplace is "just a job" -- though I hope it's a job done well.
I don't play pool or foosball at my office; I'm not in the company softball team; and while I wanted to get together with the radio-control-car guys, I was too busy and didn't want my rc-car to get muddy. My wife is still recovering from playing in a softball game for her office a week or more ago.
My preference for "fun" at the office would be people getting together to learn about software methods, design, and so on (topics I plan to write about in this blog). Getting a group of coworkers together to ride go-carts is not my idea of fun.
It appears that some people in Germany are blaming their dot-com collapse on "fun" in the workplace. Noted in Laurent Bossavit's blog pointing to article on Mair's End The Fun.
Mair's office rules seem to have gone too far in the other direction - uniforms required, no calendars or pictures on the walls, half-hour lunches. And this is in an advertising agency?!
I fail to see how uniforms get creative work done better or faster. Doesn't anyone blame to dot-com crash on bad business plans, profit-mongering brokers, and credulous investors?
A Great Place to Work says that the core truth of what makes a company successful, is mutual trust between employees and management. Quoting the preface:
[a great place to work] requires the direct involvement of senior management who must insist that fostering an exceptional work environment is an explicit goal of the organization - one that is on a par with other explicit goals like making a profit or providing high-quality products or services. Being a great place to work cannot be a fad of the month or it will rightfully appear to employees as another version of management by manipulation.