A few weeks ago I started a series of posts I’m calling Recover You. The series is focused on practices and habits that I believe lead to a healthier mind, body and spirit, a healthier business and ultimately a healthier economy. You can catch the entire Recover You series here.
The concept of work just doesn’t seem that fun. And sadly millions upon millions of people go into work, even work of their own creation, and get the life sucked right out of them.
What if work was more like play? Remember when you were a kid and you and your friends and siblings could get lost for entire days in the invention and implementation of play?
Well, certainly it helps if you love what you choose to do for a living, but like so many things in life play is as much an attitude as a state.
In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I had the chance to visit with Jonathan Fields, creator of The Good Life Project. Jonathan is on a mission to help people find and develop meaningful lives through their work and his weekly show is a shot of pure inspiration. While we didn’t talk specifically about play during our interview, I chose to include it in the context of this post because there is an element of joy Jonathan’s work and his Immersion Program.
I believe every business and every employee can benefit by purposefully adding elements of play to daily routines and organizational process.
Productivity at work isn’t about how much time you spend doing the work, as it is about how well you spend the time you invest. I know that I am always more productive when I feel good and am charged up – two things that play always delivers.
From a practical business standpoint there is much to like about play.
Play is a great way to connect
People are drawn to playfulness. It can be a defining personality trait of a brand or simply a way that you approach the things you need to do. Playful handbooks, emails and policies help people feel good about this thing we call work. Laughter is one of the greatest connectors in the human toolbox and study after study has proven the positive mental and physical health benefit offered by play. Who dictated that business and work was meant to be so darn serious anyway?
Play is super food for creativity
Creativity is the life-blood of any vibrant business and most of the work we end up doing leads to clogged creativity over time. Get the office together once a day and have a white board drawing contest or crank up Pandora and play name that artist and watch how the creativity begins to re-flow.
Play builds teamwork
The basic framework of most games depends upon teammates working together, within a set of rules, to achieve a common objective. Now that sounds like a healthy work environment to me. Take that up a notch and get people outdoors, into nature working together, playing a game and watch how quickly they resolve differences and work together.
Play reduces stress
Work can be downright stressful at times and play provides an outlet to reduce the physical and mental damages caused by stress. Play doesn’t have to mean a full-blown pick up basketball game in the warehouse either. We have two office dogs and I always feel recharged after taking them for a romp around the community garden that sits right outside my office. Dogs can teach us a thing or two about play.
Play doesn’t seem like work
When you are engaged in a game you enter what Psychiatrist and writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as a flow state. The state many gamers suggest takes over and allows them play for days on end. Now, I’m not suggesting that you install an X box 360 in every cube, but I do think you can add game like elements to just about every function. Creating sales contests, allowing people to win prizes for scoring points, and designing ways to turn reporting on objectives into games are just a few of the ways that organizations keep work fun.
Play is an attitude that can run through every element of what makes a company what it stands for. Playfulness has its own brand of attraction and every organization could benefit by creating a position responsible for keeping play alive inside and out.