Work Hard Play Hard

According to a recent two-year study on team performance at Google, the highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety, i.e. the comfort of knowing that if you make a mistake, you won’t be punished.

But how do you achieve psychological safety in your work environment? Enter: play in the workplace. Play can be an effective tool to bring out the best in your employees. Playing together builds trust. Play can increase productivity and innovation, and act as a major stress reliever. When you’re interacting with your colleagues in a playful manner you are reminded of the importance of teamwork, which leads to a stronger sense of trust and camaraderie in the workplace.

There are several strategies to successfully bring play into the workplace. First, you can begin meetings with a check-in question, in which everyone present takes a turn answering. This helps develop a rapport among colleagues and can help them connect on a more personal level. Good questions to start with are, “what’s your favorite vacation destination,” or “what’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?” These questions are answered fairly easily and are simple enough to not take away too much meeting time, but they are also effective. The conversations that may occur around a check-in question can be helpful for colleagues to learn what they have in common with each other, and develop a stronger sense of respect among the team.

Another strategy to create a more playful work environment is to infuse recess into the workday. At the Playworks office we aim to have daily recess, and have found that taking a “brain break” with active, playful time away from our desks boosts productivity. It doesn’t need to be a long break, taking 20 minutes away in the afternoon can help re-energize your team for the rest of the day. Playing and connecting with each other on a more personal level has led to a stronger bond and level of trust on our team. Employees feel empowered and psychologically safe to bring forward innovative ideas that they may have been too fearful to bring forth in the past.

At Playworks, we truly believe that the power of play can bring out not only the best in every kid, but every adult as well. Try infusing these strategies for playfulness in the workplace, and I think you’ll quickly find your team’s productivity increasing, and your office culture shifting in a positive way.

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