A question for ya: How do you play at work?

A question for yaI got this email from Samuel West in Sweden:

You, your blog and your book inspired me to write a book on happiness at work in Swedish. The book is suppose to be done before X-mas. As you know the Swedes are not as happy as the Danes at work or after work.. so we really need more happiness at work.

I am having problems with a chapter on playfulness. I don’t want to just omit it, since I think playfulness is vital to happiness at work. The examples of playfulness at work that I have are just not good enough for my book. I was wondering if you could ask your blog readers for examples of how they are playful at work. Examples of everyday playfulness!

That is an excellent question. Here are two great examples I’ve seen in other workplaces.

The Specialized lunch ride:

Zappos at work/play:

But what about you? How do YOU play at work? Give Sam a hand and write a comment below. Heck, you might even make it into his book :o)

11 thoughts on “A question for ya: How do you play at work?”

  1. I really miss playing at work…
    I remember my time in the Airforce where I were part of a very cool group of the staff that used every opportunity to play around. And you have a lot of opportunities in the Airforce. It is mandatory that you do exercise, but not how

  2. I don’t know if this qualifies as playing at work, but we used to make a football pool (without any money riding on it) for important matches.
    And the colleague who was absent usually had the weirdest prediction assigned to his name.

  3. I am a freelance graphic designer, so when I want to have fun or play at work, I do artwork with my hands. I draw, paint and make all kinds of art projects without a goal of perfection in mind. It’s just for fun. It really helps me get back in touch with my creativity, get new ideas and then going back to my computer design is more fun.

  4. Hi Alexander and Samuel,

    I’m working in the Bulgarian office of an international real estate consultancy company. Here we very much believe that working should be fun, coming to the office every day shall be an enjoyable experience (which gives better results,and impacts in a positive way employees’ motivation and engagement), and honestly I am so happy to say that it is so, it’s been so all the time for the 6 years I’ve been here with this company.

    What we do here is playing table football in pairs. We have this football table in the kitchen of the office and we really play a lot (even the women). Apart from being fun, it is also good for networking and getting to know/communicating better with colleagues.

    I hope this helps with the book. I wish you success :-)

    Best regards,

  5. Work and play do not have to be mutually exclusive. While I am in full support of using play in a natural break, it’s even better if at least some of the work can be achieved in a playful environment. Some years ago when I was working on process redesign with a major international airline we incorporated play into the redesign process to release creativity. By creating a playful environment for identifying creative ideas we got great participation and great results. eg when brainstorming for new ideas we wanted to exclude critical thinking and encourage divergent thinking. Rather than having a facilitator policing the workshops we introduced water pistols. Any mistimed critical thinking led to a soaking. The pistols did not however become a distraction, they raised the energy levels massively and resulted in great , off the wall, ideas being proposed. Even the house “Mr Negative” could not resist and started to come up with great ideas….after shooting himself several times as he realised that he was being negative before ideas had properly emerged.

    OK so this will not work in all circumstances and in some environments play will have to be assigned to the workbreak…..OR WILL IT?

  6. Dear Samuel (& Alex)
    I read this post whilst drinking my early morning coffee today and wondered if it had been written just for me! My business is called play@work and I am passionate about getting adults to re/discover the joy of work through play. The business has been going for just over a year now (I established it after 18 years working in corporates) and I am having a LOT of fun. I play with individuals, teams and brave organisations to explore and elicit ways of making play part of their working day – my byline is ‘make it fun ~ get it done’.

    I’d love to share & explore some more (& see the book once it’s been translated from Swedish….although strangely enough Afrikaans is somewhat related, so I may understand a little!).

    Yours playfully!
    Nix Rethman
    Chief Jester ~ play@work
    Johannesburg, South Africa

  7. On Fridays, it’s not unusual for a game of darts to break out. We have a dart board in our office and it serves as a great way to take a break (a game usually lasts less than half an hour), build a little comradery, and get our minds off of work a bit. I have found that it works pretty well in building teamwork and actually making work time more effective and productive.

    Oh, and it’s fun, too :)

  8. Dear Samuel & Alex,

    Great question! And i hope to give a spirit answer.

    First, books. Well, Anthony Robbins in ‘unlimited power’ has a part on playfullness, which might come in usefull (it’s about the belief that your job can be fun).

    Second, i work at a very creative organization (NCSI), where ideas are ‘what we do’. So we have many talks and discussions about what to do. Because we have a very open culture, we like to listen to every idea. Thus, everyone feels free to give their opinion. And every session (whether discussion or brainstorm) is fun. Among the many ideas, there are serious ideas – and just-fun ideas. But it all works because we enjoy what we do.

    Third, here is a video of where i work at IKKI. We don’t do this all the time, but it helps break the working stress. The language is Dutch.:)

    *ill try to embed it*

    I hope this helps. Good luck on your book!


  9. Making work fun for the purpose of enduring the work day, is good. Some things I’ve seen on the job were…lunch time walks for exercising. Participation in sports pools…Participation with everybody bringing in a dish for lunch(and in one case this particular department sold hot dogs, sodas, and pretzels. And sent the money to charity)…Don’t under estimate the effects of meeting. We met at bowling alleys and pool halls once or twice a month. The results were great! We end up talking about competing with each other in a healthy way. Even one of the most hated supervisors was seen in a different light. Call it fun or whatever. It’s really about being stimulated beyond the work. Right?

  10. Here’s how we play at work –

    1. We celebrate birthday’s each month by playing a prank on the birthday boy/girl. From simple one’s like covering the laptop with post it messages to more elaborate one’s like setting up a fake interview call, where the unsuspecting person(me!!) interviewed a candidate(one of my colleagues) while the other employees listened in on the conversation.

    In case we cant come up with a prank, then we pull the birthday boy/girl’s leg when we get together for the birthday cake. Each person present gets to ask the birthday boy/girl one question , which they have to answer. There are enough laughs as people come up with all sorts of questions.

    2.Everyday evening, we get together for 20-30 mins and play a game of “ring rugby” on the attached terrace. Two teams ->two goal posts -> people pass the ring to each other for making a goal.

    3. We have had wii tennis tournaments, chess competitions during the lunch hour. It’s good fun to just have everyone together cheering for their respective teams.

    4. Lunch hour every friday is reserved for Brown Bags, simple games of Bingo, Dumb Charades and the likes.

    5. We have had different contests where people have to come together in groups for coming up with the names and features for a product that we are building, doing up their work-spaces on a theme they come up with.

    Very recently we have started the wall grafitti contest ….based on the life@work. We have put up charts on the walls for the same. The end result would be framed and displayed on the walls.

    6. We have yearly traditions too..which people really look forward to, like the annual treasure hunt, and the x’mas party ..which is basically a lot of good food and white elephant gift exchange.

    7. A get together once in a while after office hours where we play games with water-balloons, go out together, do karoke .

    8. Very recently we surprised everyone with a day picnic when they came in to work on a Monday morning :D

    9. We have hosted our own versions of the American Idol, and You Think You can dance competitions. These were a huge hit !

    We have a lot of fun@work and that’s how we like it !

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