Skip to main content
Play_How_You_Work_Leading_On_Purpose_Newsletter-b3dddf9e The Power of Play: The Gap Between "Ha ha" and "Aha" is Small

The Power of Play: The Gap Between "Ha ha" and "Aha" is Small

30 August 2023

Cheat code: Play How You Work: If you have remote-only or hybrid teams, don't wait for in-person opportunities to have fun.

"For most people, creativity is a serious business. They forget the telling phrase 'the play of ideas' and think that they need to knuckle down and work more. Often, the reverse is true. They need to play." – Julia Cameron

Welcome to the latest edition of the Leading On Purpose newsletter. This week we will explore the transformative power of play in the workplace. Discover how incorporating play into your work culture can lead to innovation, stronger teams, enhanced personal connections, and improved well-being.

Playful Innovation: From "Ha ha" to "Aha"

In the pursuit of innovation, embracing play might just be the game-changing strategy you've been looking for. The gap between "Ha ha" and "Aha" is small.

Playfulness is closely linked to humor, and it's often the unexpected joy that sparks the birth of novel ideas. The surprise element inherent in humor paves the way for creativity, encouraging us to combine ideas in unconventional ways and giving rise to unprecedented solutions.

One of the best workplace cultures I've seen with On Purpose Adventures used classic games to foster a culture of play. On Board Game Friday, an employee picked a board game and during breaks showed the game to their co-workers and shared the important role the game played in their childhood. This weekly activity nurtured closer bonds through storytelling and also fun and laughter while co-workers played the games.

By fostering an atmosphere of play, you're creating the fertile ground for innovation to flourish.

Unity Through Play: Building Stronger Teams

Organized play isn't just about goofing around; it has the power to unite team members around shared goals and simple rules. These common goals provide a sense of purpose and alignment, helping team members understand the value they bring to the collective effort.

Moreover, the structured rules of play provide a sense of boundary and control, allowing individuals to navigate their path toward achieving the shared objective.

In essence, play helps create a cohesive team that collaborates effectively and understands how their individual contributions contribute to the bigger picture.

Playing Together, Working Better

In a world that often separates work and personal lives, play becomes a bridge that connects team members on a deeper level. By engaging in play, colleagues get to know each other beyond their professional roles, leading to stronger connections and increased camaraderie.

This interconnectedness is especially crucial for remote or hybrid teams, where the physical distance can sometimes hinder relationship-building. Through playful interactions, you're not just enhancing your team's collaboration, but also nurturing genuine connections that extend beyond the virtual realm.

Play How You Work

Learn to play in the way your team is composed. You don't need to wait until the entire team is in-person for playful interactions and team building. You can create environments where play is encouraged among remote and hybrid teams.

Playful Resilience: Blowing Off Steam

The demands of a high-pressure work environment can take a toll on both productivity and well-being. Play acts as a powerful antidote, allowing individuals to temporarily step away from work and reduce the intensity of stress.

The rejuvenating effect of play contributes to overall well-being and ultimately, enhanced productivity. Research has even shown that employees who engage in play are more effective at managing stress, leading to lower absenteeism and greater overall job satisfaction.

study by Brigham Young University found that work teams experienced a 20% increase in productivity on subsequent tasks after playing video games together for 45 minutes.

The Science of Laughter: Boosting Engagement and Creativity

Science backs up what we instinctively feel: laughter is a force for good in the workplace. Research from institutions like Wharton, MIT, and London Business School affirms that laughter relieves stress, enhances engagement and well-being, and sparks creativity, collaboration, and even analytical precision.

The positive impact of humor goes beyond the mere moment of laughter – it contributes to a healthier work environment, fosters positive relationships, and enhances overall productivity.

Practical Tips: Let Your Laughter Fly

"Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.” - Alison Beard in Harvard Business Review

Finding the right balance of humor in the workplace can be an art, but it's certainly worth the effort. Here are a few practical tips to infuse more humor into your work life:

  1. Be authentic: Don't force humor; let it come naturally.
  2. Be clever: Cleverness often wins over elaborate jokes.
  3. Build an in-group: Foster camaraderie through shared humor.
  4. Laugh at yourself: Embrace vulnerability and create a comfortable atmosphere.
  5. Disarming power: Use humor to address sensitive topics or ease tension.
  6. Mindful laughter: Be aware of the context and volume of your laughter.
  7. Understand your audience: Tailor your humor to suit your colleagues' preferences.

Game On!

As you embark on your journey toward a more playful workplace, remember that incorporating play is a strategic move that can revolutionize your team's dynamic and boost their creative potential.

By embracing playfulness, you're not only investing in a happier work environment, but also paving the way for innovation, collaboration, and personal growth.

We designed Code Breakers, a fast-paced code breaking and riddle solving game, to meet these organizational needs. This game can be played in-person, virtual or remotely. When your team plays the way they work, they form real relationships and find applicable ways to communicate and collaborate.

Code Breakers Volvo OPA Code Breakers

It's time to level up and discover the true "Aha" moments that come from a culture that encourages play. So, let the games begin!

Stay tuned for more playful updates and remember, it's not just about "Ha ha" – it's about the journey to "Aha." Until next time, keep playing and keep thriving!