Does Play Belong at Work?

Does Play Belong at Work?      

By Cassie Mills, Spirit & Place Program Assistant

The “Googleplex” of Google’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo Courtesy:

In my research for this year’s Spirit & Place Festival theme, Play, I have come across a surprising amount of books and articles that discuss the benefits of incorporating play into the work setting. There is a growing trend of large companies creating “play spaces” in their offices to benefit their business.

Companies such as Google, Zappo’s, Red Bull, and our very own Eli Lilly and Company are challenging the structure of the traditional work environment. For instance, some companies such as Red Bull and Google have put in huge slides that let their employees have a fun way to arrive at meetings in half the time. These companies have created fun and unique work spaces that include actual play rooms, lounge areas, and fitness centers that allow their employees to relax, move, and interact with each other outside of the board room.

Research has proven that there are many benefits from incorporating play into the workspace. One of the most important advantages is that it boosts employee morale, which in turn helps reduce stress, significantly increases productivity, and enhances creativity. The companies mentioned above have proven that creating playful workspaces can be used as an effective corporate strategy to not only enhance employee productivity, but to also recruit talent. Companies that have a playful work environment report high levels of employee retention, therefore saving them money in employee turn-over.

You don’t have to put in a slide or a firepole in your office to create a fun atmosphere. Here are some simple tips for making your office more playful:

  •  Plan informal social gatherings such as potluck lunches.
  •  Engage in friendly banter with co-workers.
  •  Create a fun atmosphere with bright posters, pictures, and cartoons.
  •  Maintain a positive attitude, no matter how badly your day may be going: it’s not always easy, but it can create a big difference in how your co-   workers interact with you. It may also inspire others to have a happier attitude at work!
  •  Add jokes to start off staff meetings, or ask staff to share something funny that happened to them in the last week.
  •  Find a reason to celebrate: birthdays, company milestones, the completion of a big project – the possibilities are endless!

Do you incorporate play into your job? If not, how might you get more joy out of your work? We’re eager to know your thoughts! We invite you to join the conversation on our Facebook page.