How to Boost Your Business’s Productivity by Having Fun
The Benefits of Having Fun at Work
How to Bring Fun Into Your Workplace
The upside to having fun at work is clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. People can always see through phony initiatives that are overly engineered to produce a certain result. Team-building activities can easily fall flat. So how do you do it?
The most important thing to realize is that it rarely happens by accident. It often takes an intentional emphasis on creating space for fun and spontaneity, which is an example that only your leadership team can set. If leadership doesn’t engage in fun, then employees will get the unspoken message that they shouldn’t either. Remember, that’s the kind of nose-to-the-grindstone culture that leads to burnout and dissatisfaction.
Once you’re committed to increasing your business’s fun quota, the next thing you need to do is get to know your team. Your team is unique and what worked at another company may not work for you. How you aim to bring fun into their routines should suit their personalities and interests. Do they like to be active? A planned walk around the neighborhood or game of ping pong might work well. Does your team work remotely? There are many virtual games that are perfect for a mid-afternoon break. Larger teams may need multiple types of activities built into the culture to engage different personalities.
Finally, don’t forget that your job is to build it and they will come. Make it known that you’re setting aside a time for something fun and that others are encouraged to join. Then leave space for the team to shape the activity in their own way. When the fun feels more spontaneous and less orchestrated you can rest assured that your plan is working.
But wait, can’t fun go too far? What’s to stop people from spending too much time having fun and not enough getting things done? Again, the example set by leadership goes a long way in establishing a healthy balance. Your employees will have the ability to regulate their own workflows as long as they have a clear sense of their deadlines, what needs to get done, and how to get support if they hit a roadblock. If you notice a decline in the performance of any specific employees, that’s a good time to check-in with them individually to give support, re-establish expectations, and set new goals. The time “lost” having fun is more than made up by the boosts in productivity and loyalty. Your long-term ROI will be off the charts.
It may take time for a new activity to become an authentic part of your culture, but be patient. If it’s still not working after a few months, change it up.
How Mellowlark Labs Has Fun
We’ve built in spaces for fun throughout our workday. Like we mentioned above, they reflect our personalities and are flexible to fit ebbs and flows in our workflow (fun is just as important when you’re busy).
We’re big music lovers, so we created a channel in Slack (messaging app) to share and appreciate music. Each week we vote on a new theme and each person posts one song a day that fits the theme. At the end of the week we put those songs together into a playlist. This is a great format for us because people can post a song at any point throughout their day when they have a bit of downtime. It’s fun to learn about each other’s musical tastes and have a space to geek out over old faves and new discoveries.
Each Thursday at noon we play a quick round of trivia. This also happens over Slack, which allows everyone to participate whether they are remote or in the office. We enjoy testing our knowledge with a bit of friendly competition. While it’s over in 5 minutes, we all look forward to it and the good-natured bragging rights that are up for grabs.
Start meetings with a lateral thinking exercise
To dust the cobwebs off and get the creative juices flowing, we like to kick off meetings with a lateral thinking exercise. These are puzzles that encourage you to think outside the box to come up with a solution. Starting meetings this way gets everyone engaged and sets the tone for innovative problem solving.
In addition to the activities above, we encourage random moments of fun. We listen to vinyl records at our office, regularly share recipes and movie reviews, and put out our favorite art and decor. We have an office candy bowl, a rock collection, and a gong to mark big occasions. We also spend time outside of work for the occasional happy hour or trip to the record store. These elements contribute to a vibrant Mellowlark culture that keeps us excited to show up to work each day.
In summary, cultivating a balance between productivity and fun will benefit your business in many ways. The key is for leadership to set a good example, find pathways to fun that suit your specific team, and allow room for spontaneity. Your employees and your bottom line will thank you.
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