For many, the traditional office is not a place you associate with the words “fun” or “relaxation” – the office is a place where you go to get things done, nose to the grindstone, deadlines and quotas firmly in mind. If anything, fun and relaxation are things you look for outside the office, to help you destress after a long day’s hard work.
Unfortunately, work-related stress is all too common. Over time, people come to associate the workplace with the stressful situations, which in turn negatively impacts productivity and morale.
An unproductive environment
Aside from the physical and emotional problems created by work-related stress, studies have shown that stress in the workplace also inhibits imagination and creativity, as well as reduces employee retention rates. Despite this, few organizations have programs in place to reduce work-related stress. By ignoring a stressful work environment, both employees and employer suffer: the employees in terms of personal and professional well-being, and the company in terms of lost profits and productivity.
An unorthodox solution
Increasingly, many companies are finding that moving away from the traditional office environment and encouraging fun and play at work lends itself to the creation of an environment that is conducive to creativity, collaboration, and teamwork. While it’s not uncommon to find office space set aside for recreational activities, these areas typically see use only when the employees are on break. Such spaces are seen as just someplace to congregate, much like the proverbial water cooler, or as a place where employees can use their break to blow off steam.
Companies which rely heavily on creativity and collaboration, however, are finding that allowing employees free access to these areas during normal work hours can yield surprising results. By stepping away from the traditional “work” mindset and allowing their employees to shift into a more playful state of mind, the employees are able to think out of the box and find solutions where they may have been stuck or stumped before.
Part II further explores the advantages of encouraging fun and play in the workplace.