23 Aug 10 Ways To Have Fun At My Office
I can't tell you how many times I'm asked "Kimberly, how can I have fun at my office too?" Fun is a big part of living life out loud and let's face it - we all have commitments that we must be true to, like jobs or businesses. Finding ways to incorporate fun into our days while managing these commitments at the office has become really important to big companies too.
Chief Fun Officers and Happiness Engineers are emerging titles as companies see the value in investing in fun at the workplace. The Gross Happiness Index of a workplace has now become a benchmark to be monitored by CEOs of major companies like Google, Zappos and Virgin.
New research released this year shows that there are indeed big economic advantages for creating cultures of playfulness. Leaders are encouraged to embrace the importance of harnessing the power of play to build a happier and more productive workplace.
But what about YOUR office? Could it use a lil Rebelution there?
Here are some great ways to add fun to YOUR office:
Nerf Guns: Now don't worry, I'm not talking about a coup at your next office party. I've actually used this tool for some team meetings when I knew there were some minor chinks in the personalities of the team. Unbeknownst to them, I had taped inexpensive dollar variety nerf guns to the bottoms of their chairs (with extra ammo, of course).
Then at an appropriate time in the meeting, when I acknowledged the elephant in the room of the conflicts, I told them "Everything you need to fix this today is here in this room. Once I give them to you, please stay here and do what you must until it is fixed." Then I would rise and tell them to look under their chairs and I'd exit the conference room, close the door behind me and just listen. I could hear their surprise quickly turn to a flurry of activity, then tons of laughs and finally the resounding exit of any remaining personality issues! Try it! Your team will never forget it!
Crayons & Markers Oh My: When they arrive to their next team meeting (brainstorming meetings are great for this!) have someone pass out crayons and colour markers. New rule of the day - All note taking must be done using these. You can have someone secretly record the meeting and have the notes transcribed and then shared later with all the team members if need be.
Eeny Meeny Miny Mo: Assign a team member to teach on a leadership topic that you could all use and for more fun - have them partner on the presentation with someone who they don't normally get to work with.
Pickles & Fish: Share videos you find from YouTube on team building, leadership, customer service, etc. Often these are a great change of pace from the normal yawners of meetings. Some of my faves are the Farrell Ice Cream Store and Seattle Pike Place Fish Company.
Toilet Paper In A Box: Start off your meetings with ice breakers. A fave of mine is to come into the room with a beautiful box with a removable beautiful matching lid. Inside is a roll of TP - yep, toilet paper. This was always done when there were new people added to the team.
At the start of the meeting, I would open the box, take out the TP and then pass it to the new person FIRST asking them "Please go ahead. Tear off as many squares of toilet paper as you think you might need." Then, tell them NOTHING ELSE. Continue passing it around to the rest of the members, asking them to do the same.
Finally, after everyone has theirs, then tell them that for every single square they tore off, they should share something about themselves that the group wouldn't know about them or suspect about themselves. Without fail the new person always takes a bunch so you are in for some fun! And as everyone else is "IN" on the gag already having been the bearer of the experience themselves, it puts everyone on equal footing with great camaraderie right away.
Snakes & Lattes: Gather a collection of board games that stimulate fun and exchange among your team. Create a shared space, the breakroom, etc where they can all have access to them and/or "check them out" to take home for a night or two.
Book Em Dano: Rather than giving a crappy collared shirt with your organization's logo on it that NO ONE really wants to wear unless they have to...go to the local bookstore and buy each team member a business or leadership book that would benefit the group BUT is geared toward the recipient first. Then set up a TEAM LIBRARY where they can share their books with the rest of the team. You can even do a shared book read from them each week as part of your team meetings.
Cubicle Sweet Cubicle: Go online to Art.com and purchase tons of 11 x 17 prints. Offer each person a choice of 2 for hanging in their cubicles. Have a best dressed cubicle contest or best cube-orhood contest.
You Can Quote Me On That: Involve the company employees in selecting motivational quotes to have an artist paint on team hallways throughout your building.
Let's Have Lunch: Create team building and fun by having themed monthly luncheons "sponsored" and planned/organized by different departments and celebrating everyone's birthdays that month.
Google and the Fortune 500 types may have the budget to outfit their office with foosball tables, beer vending machines, etc and that's great but FUN doesn't have to have a big budget, it just takes BIG LEADERS to have the courage to set the stage for it to happen organically!
Here's to FUN in your 9 to 5s Rebels!
P.S. I'd like to take a moment and give credit to the company most influential in my approach to fun in the workplace and where most of these fun ideas came from....Bob Lauth and the people of Lauth Property Group. They knew the value of fun and esprit de corp in the workplace far before it was Google cool! I'm forever thankful and still bleed a lil Lauth-green to this day!