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Can You Have Fun at Work?


When you think of the daily grind, you think of just that: a dull, sometimes tedious place where you clock in and clock out and can’t wait to leave every day, right? Man, that’s rough. But what if your workplace was fun? People who say you can’t have fun at work are not only wrong, their attitude could be keeping their team from being really successful. Here’s how to be the change you want to see, whether or not you’re officially in charge of morale around the office.

mad clown 

(Photo Credit: Dan Harrelson/Flickr)

Reasons Why You Think You Can’t Have Fun at Work:

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1. It’s too expensive.

Fun costs money! Well, not really. If you’re managing a team, or just tasked with managing the “fun,” you can still make some magic happen. While the first things that might come to mind — e.g., catered lunches, cocktail socials, and kickball team jerseys — all cost money, fun doesn’t necessarily have to. Think about what could be fun on a budget. Maybe you host a themed potluck during lunch and have folks bring a dish to share. Perhaps you put a 1,000-piece puzzle out in the break room and encourage everyone to lend a hand (and meet new friends) while they step away from their desks for a moment. Maybe you sponsor a trivia contest around an upcoming holiday. The possibilities for cheap fun are only limited by your imagination.

2. It’s too “silly.”

Oh c’mon! Even the serious of suits can get behind a little blowing off of the daily steam. You don’t have to be a tech startup to have a fun work environment, and fun shouldn’t be limited to the occasional “Jeans Friday.” We’re talking real, honest-to-goodness fun, and you can bring it to your team in a flash. Fun is a natural state of mind for living things. (I mean, have you seen puppies?) Fun things don’t have to be outlandish, they can be quiet and not disturbing to others who still might like a quiet workplace. Lately adult coloring books have taken off as a great way to exercise your mind and grab some personal meditation time that brings us right back to when we were kids without a care in the world. How about offering up some pages for folks to doodle on while they take a break from spreadsheetpalooza?

3. Nobody has “enough time.”

We don’t have to get Pink Floyd deep here: time is valuable. But you shouldn’t put the nix on coming up with some “fun time” for your team. Over-stressed co-workers aren’t happy co-workers, and they might start looking for the door if the pressure keeps on building without relief. (Leaving you holding the bag, or at least, their end of that big project.)

Fun stuff doesn’t have to take up the whole day (though it can — let’s all go to the zoo!). Try fitting in a lunchtime game of Pictionary or Apples to Apples. Or maybe try a 15-minute yoga session to get everyone up from their desks during the afternoon doldrums. You could see if a local chef could give a lesson in November on how to properly carve a turkey. There’s lots to do in a half hour that could mean great face-to-face time with your fellow workers (and we don’t mean Facebook).

4. What if nobody comes?

We all know that a Liz Lemon party is mandatory, but that’s not fun! Fun is organic and friendly, not compulsory and forced. Make fun optional, personal, and creative and folks will follow. They have to trust that your intentions are for them, not for yourself. If you only get three fun break participants this time, maybe they’ll go tell their co-workers that they had a great time and next session you’ll get eight! Or if they don’t have a good time, talk to your co-workers about what they’d like to do. Get some team input and you’ll get participation next time based on personal investment.

5. Nobody needs to have fun … it’s a WORKplace!

Unless you’re working at a circus, you’re not going to have a lot of clowns walking around. (But if you do, can I ask: do they all drive to work in one car?) Still, we want to have fun. As adults, we can be trusted to have a good time and still get things accomplished. It’s a benefit to your co-workers’ well-being and job satisfaction that you take the time to remind each other that you’re human creatures with a large capacity for the whole range of goofy, unique, and utterly interesting emotions. Work and fun aren’t meant to be mutually exclusive. Lest we forget, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Tell Us What You Think

How would you make work fun? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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