Having Fun At Work Matters Even When Work Sucks
> Having fun at work is essential for your mental health
Are you having another bad day? A sanity-destroying 8-hour slog to battle against with no fun or wine in sight?
It ain’t called the daily grind for nothing.
We get you. Work sucks, I know (Thanks Blink 182).
It’s dispiriting when you’re faced with a gray 9-5 that’s more tedious than people who facebook pictures of their lunch - who the hell cares what you’re eating today Jessie.
We have a theory here that office workers are used as some kind of weird energy source - kinda like the Matrix, only smaller. Fun, sunny dispositions are slowly drained away by torturous chairs in order to feed some kind of bloated corporate parasite.
And what doesn’t help this joyless situation are your multiple bosses, the beige walls, asshole co-workers, and the stress of it all.
Good God, someone get us out of here.
But hey, that’s where you’re going wrong because the job isn’t all bad, and things really are what you make them.
Yes, you may only just manage to keep your head above a constant flood of demands and conflicting deadlines, but there are things you can change and have control over.
And your outlook is one of them.
We’ll show you how to have more, or even start, having fun at work - but first, here’s why having fun at work is so important.
Why Having Fun At Work Matters
Fun brings a playful quality to work.
We have hobbies and interests, even if there’s no time to enjoy them much, because we like to play. Fun and humor are simple but important ways to keep spirits up and beat the overwhelming stress of adult life.
Check out this Ted Talk video - it’s a good laugh and shows why we need fun at work.
VIDEO: Humor at Work
YOUTUBE: TEDx Talks
> Most corporations focus on efficiency and profit over fun
> Humor and work can go hand-in-hand
> People who have fun are less stressed, more productive and healthier
> Wish this guy worked in our office
We’re not making this up. Fun at work is essential if you want to stay sane and healthy in an office environment.
In fact, researchers have uncovered some interesting trends.
The Great Place to Work Institute (it’s a biggie - tens of thousands of people add to the data) says that those ‘great’ companies we all wished we worked for have employees that consistently rate them as fun places to work.
But that’s not all.
On Fortune’s "100 Best Companies To Work For," the top 100 companies have at least 81% of employees rating them as fun places to work.
Companies that didn’t make the top 100 often fell down on employee happiness ratings.
Countless psychologists and HR professionals suggest that fun workplaces create happier employees, and happy employees have reduced stress, enhanced productivity, more job satisfaction and greater motivation. Phew, that’s a lot of benefits.
So having fun at work can make the difference between mediocre and great companies, and enhance your health. Those are pretty important reasons don’t you think?
Let’s take a closer look at why fun at work is so important.
1. Fun Means Better Health
Being under stress or facing negative emotions can create mega problems in the work environment. Stress has been linked to heart disease, a lowered immune system, depression, and even stroke.
Businesses lose millions of dollars to stress-related absenteeism and workers lose even more in terms of family life and general happiness.
However, when you’re laughing and enjoying yourself, your brain is releasing all sorts of feel-good hormones including dopamine. All of this helps to offset the negative effects of stress, namely cortisol.
To put it more simply, having fun lowers your stress. Lower stress levels lead to healthier minds and bodies.
2. Fun Companies Are Great Places To Work
When the word gets out that your office is the place to be, it’ll attract more fun-loving people. Then, the culture continues to build on itself, spiraling upward to greater levels of positivity.
Modern brand-focused businesses need to promote an enjoyable work atmosphere if they want to attract and retain the best employees.
Employees are great advocates for a business as they bring talented peers to the company. Happy employees lead to bigger, better businesses.
A great example of this is Southwest Airlines. It places employees first, customers second and shareholders third.
Yes, you read that right. Employees are first.
According to the Herb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of the airline, “We believe that if we treat our employees right, they will treat our customers right, and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy.”
Makes sense, huh?
3. Fun Improves Collaboration
Would you rather work with friendly colleagues or a bunch of unenthusiastic cubicle drones?
It’s safe to say you’re more relaxed and produce better results working with someone you like, or at least know a bit. Having fun at work improves relationships and boosts communication.
You’ve got to work with your colleagues, even the assholes, so you may as well make it fun.
4. Fun Uncovers Your Creative Genius
Kiddies learn as they play. In fact, all baby animals learn by playing. You will also learn through play - social play that is, we’re not suggesting you whip out a Barbie Doll or a Playstation.
A relaxed, playful and fun environment allows your brain to “loosen up” and it’s these moments that allow the rays of creative genius to shine through.
How many times have you had a great idea in the shower?
That’s because your brain is relaxed. Fun does the same thing. It stimulates your imagination, creates a buzz, and beats away brain-blocking stress.
5. Fun Makes Employees More Productive
Having fun in the office is a great way to boost your productivity.
Here’s a simple example - mnemonics help you remember things because they are fun.
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas? Anyone, anyone?
OK, pizza’s been knocked off the list now and it’s My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles instead - just goes to show how old we are.
You know what doesn’t get old? Fun.
Research shows that happy employees can be up to 20% more productive. Imagine how 20% more productivity would clear your workload in a flash.
My God, your inbox would be clear by Thursday every single week.
How To Have Fun At Work
When employees are motivated by the opportunity to have a little fun at work, managers ought to tear down the walls to make it happen.
The problem is that not all employers know it and many employees are afraid to have fun at work. It’s a double-whammy problem.
There’s a national deficit sized gap separating the ideas of work and fun, but sadly the cliché "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is absolutely true. It does make you dull.
However, the gap between fun and work doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a perception. Your job description doesn’t say "Thou shall have no fun here" so why aren’t you?
Work and fun sit very nicely together, and when they mix, the results are of galactically beneficial proportions.
Here are a few ways you can bring work and fun together to save your soul, dull Jack (or Jill).
How To Have Fun On Your Own
Not everyone can drop what they’re doing and join you in some impromptu fun at the office. So, much like an only child, you’ve got to be creative and learn to have fun on your own first.
And, playing Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans or any other mobile gaming app doesn’t count here.
1. Brighten Your Workplace
Nobody can have fun when their cubicle resembles a prison cell and while you don’t want too many distractions, a warm cheerful workspace will boost your morale.
Decorate that cubicle in ways that lift your spirits.
Beyond the obligatory photos of family and pets, here are a few ideas to liven up your cubicle on a budget:
- Add low maintenance mini succulents
- Show your fav team mascots
- Apply colorful contact paper to cabinets
- String up trinkets and mementos
- Rotate inspirational photos on your desktop screen
- Place squishy stress balls on your desk
For a few more tips and ideas, check out this short video.
VIDEO: How to update your office cubicle for under $50
> Clean first, organize then start decorating
> Use your creativity to jazz up cheap accessories
> Color-coordinate to your fav theme
2. Create An Email Memento Box
Bring the traditional memento box bang up to date.
Create an email folder and put in all those little thank you messages, words of encouragement, whatever makes you smile.
It’ll also come in handy as a reference during your annual performance reviews and/or evaluations.
When you feel down, go to that folder and review all the positives that you received and know that you are and will continue to be valued.
It’s guaranteed to boost your spirits - trust us.
3. Bring On The Vacation Mindset
You know those happy feelings you revel in during vacations?
How about bringing some of that stress-bashing fun to the office each day?
Take a look at this clip from the Big Vision Show for ways to bring a vacation mindset to your working life.
VIDEO: Make Work Fun
YOUTUBE: Big Vision Show
> Changing your mindset is healthy
> Having fun leads to creativity at work
> Take 5 minutes to play and it’ll shift your perspective
4. Turn Tasks Into Games
Take a tip from kids who always manage to find some fun. They turn mundane tasks into games to lighten the mood and increase their motivation - although they probably don't realize it.
It’s called gamification and it does wonders to keep things interesting and fun.
Spiderman helps them climb the stairs, Barbie really likes eating her vegetables - perhaps Spiderman and Barbie can help you too. Here are some ideas to get your thoughts rolling:
When you complete a work target, put a mini star or medal to your cabinet or wall.
Replied to 10 long tough emails? Give yourself a 10-minute walking meditation.
Reward yourself with a single raisin/nut each time you finish a line in that dull spreadsheet.
Print a ruler, tape it to your cabinet, then use a mini magnet toy to mark progress on any given project.
5. Gets LOLs From Your Browser All Day
Adding a fun browser extension like this one from the Google Chrome web store is a quick and easy way to laugh and smile throughout the day.
Each new browser tab opens a new wallpaper image or a funny quote. It’s the little things that keep you smiling and boosts your motivation
Imagine how many new browser pages you actually open every day, then add up those stress-relieving laughs.
Yeah, it’s a lot.
6. Listen To Music
Music is scientifically proven to improve your mood. If you’re feeling stressed, pop on some classical soothing tunes that increase positive thoughts.
If you need some motivation, it’s high energy workout music for you. Just slip on your headphones and start jamming in your chair.
The bonus here is that if you’re in a noisy open office, music is one of the best ways to drown out unwanted noise.
There are tons of options out there. Whether it’s your own music library, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora or Spotify, etc. there’s something for everyone - guaranteed.
How To Have Fun With Others
If management is already on-board with a fun, productive working environment then you’re onto a winner. Get together with a few of your work BFFs and hash out some fun.
If management isn’t quite on-board with the idea of having fun and needs some encouragement, craft an email that lists the benefits of a fun working culture (feel free to cut and paste the reasons above) and then suggest ways to get the fun ball rolling.
With that said, here are some ideas for you and your playmates to join in on. Be sure to obey all the office "playground rules" so you don’t get a time-out.
1. Interact With Your “Work BFFs” (Work Best Friends Forever)
It’s possible to have fun on your own, but laughter compounds exponentially with it’s with two or more people.
Research shows that friends at work are an essential ingredient in a happy corporate atmosphere, we all need personal interaction.
So send an occasional email or text message with a funny GIF or meme to your work BFFs, or better still, stand up and go talk.
Go out to lunch together and catch up on things. You could also take a walk around the block together to break up the afternoon.
Non-work related chat is a life-saver in a staid corporate office. No (wo)man is an island and great work BFFs can make even your worst days a little more funny and more tolerable.
2. Start Up A Company Games Tournament
How about a lunchtime round of mini golf in the office where the winner receives a laughable certificate and "golden" paperclip prize?
You can bring out your Tiger Woods skills and sink those long putts down the cubicle aisles. Just bring a putter and a golf ball to work and rig up some "holes" using a ring of paper clips.
Or, bring out the kid in everyone with a "rock, paper, scissors" bracket-style tournament. With a winner-takes-all prize of a gift certificate to a coffee shop or lunch place nearby.
People entering the tournament would contribute $1 to the pool. Matches can be held whenever both competitors have a minute for some fun time.
Competitive but fun games liven up comatose cubicle zombies and loosen the sticks that are firmly lodged in the asses of long-term office veterans.
If you find it difficult to get games off the starting line, all you really need is one friend to join in, others will soon gather like cavemen around a fire, eyes rounded with astonishment.
"What is this new…fun...can it be real?"
3. Food Is Fun - Potluck Lunch
Potluck lunch is an enjoyable, fun and tasty way to start conversations and learn more about your co-workers. Plus, it can be cheaper than going out to eat.
Themed potluck lunches are good fun - try Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or Easter, and with so many multi-cultures in the workplace, you’ll probably find a "home country" dish that’s new and exciting.
Ever eat Jamaican food? Neither have we, but it’s on our potluck menu for next week!
Not many people can resist the lure of food, making Potluck a sure-fire way of bringing people together.
4. Present The Pretend Oscars
Every week or month, depending on how much fun you want to have, be your own informal "awards giver" and recognize an employee for their outstanding contributions.
It’s a play on "employee of the month," but you can definitely be more creative and come up with more playful ones like: "Most Awesome Intergalactic Project Manager Overlord."
Present your winner with a Pez dispenser of your choice or any variety of cheap, funny and silly things.
It’s silly and fun but also highlights their personal achievements. Plus, it’s a proven fact that when you give happiness, you actually get happiness in return.
5. Start Meetings With Smiles Or Laughs
Team meetings can be dull, let’s not lie. From the droning PowerPoint fan right to the self-promoting show-off, it can get tedious.
So, why not start meetings off with laughs and smiles instead?
Start the meeting with some funny or heart-warming stories to bring out some smiles. Everyone gets a turn to share something hilarious or what they love.
Most of us find amusing bits and pieces on the internet.
There’s always a steady stream of super-funny and feel-good stuff on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so share the fun and brighten up everyone’s day.
All the laughs and smiles will create a bit of fun bonding time before you get down to hard work.
6. Weekly Lunchtime Comedy
Book a meeting room with a projector, screen, and speakers every Monday during lunchtime and invite your work BFFs to a comedy session.
We know Monday is the worst day of the week and a few belly laughs will improve the mood. Hop onto Youtube or Netflix and get the videos rolling.
Eat lunch and have some fun with the "Ministry of Laughs" or "The Fun Factory" or any of your favorite comedians - feel the tension and boredom evaporate.
Just remember, if you plan to make this an open invitation to all co-workers, you’ll definitely need to keep the comedy "family-friendly."
Having Fun At Work Improves Everything
Most adults spend a third of their life at work - scary, right?
If you’re not enjoying that third, it’s time for a re-think.
Implementing some of our ideas to boost your office fun level will immeasurably improve your working day.
We can pretty much guarantee the haters will eventually want to join in too, because good moods are contagious unless you’re hungover.
A little fun will bring back your smile, smash away the stress like a Wimbledon pro, and inject good times to counteract your life-sapping Matrix torture chair.
Actually, you know that chair could be put to much better use if you could get a few fun-loving co-workers together.
VIDEO: Bored In Office
That’s all we have for now - we gotta run.
There’s a practice session for our upcoming mini-golf tournament that we need to get to - priorities, priorities.
Have a great week and go have some fun!