A common barrier to creativity at work is the notion that things have to be done a certain way – especially if that’s how employees were trained. We’re so used to doing things in just such a way that we don't even think to ask, “why do I have to do it this way?” “is this the best way to do this?” or, most importantly, “why do I have to do this at all?”
As children, lacking preconceived notions about how things are supposed to be and how things are properly done, unfettered by the seriousness of everyday adult life, we let our imaginations run wild. The idea behind encouraging a more playful work environment is to encourage people to be that free with their thoughts and imagination again, and to associate the office with a place where, fun, exciting, and innovative things happen.
A sense of belonging
Aside from encouraging employee creativity and productivity, one effect of creating a fun work environment is an increase in positive behavior, such as voluntarily helping colleagues and feeling pride for the company. Instead of feeling like just another cog in the machine, employees instead come to feel as if they’re part of a team. Not only that, but that they are a valued member of the team. By fostering a friendlier, more open environment, people are more open to letting their creativity flow and actively collaborating with coworkers.
Ideation and retention
Fostering fun at the workplace also lends itself to learning, as well as retention of information. Audience participation and enthusiasm are a lot easier to evoke and maintain. Because employees’ minds are more stimulated, as opposed to the dull sameness of the traditional staid work environment, presentations become more than just boring periods of absorbing endless data.
Learning and training are also boosted. Adult learning relies more on personal involvement in the learning process, and much less on rote information dump. Having fun at work motivates people to work harder, and by creating an environment that encourages employee participation, you help facilitate your employees’ understanding and retention of new concepts and procedures.
So how, exactly, do you create an environment that’s conducive to having fun? More in Part III.