“Work hard, play hard” is a phrase that is frequently used as a motto, in life, and especially in business. BrightHR’s study of 2,000 employees, conducted by Professor Sir Cary Cooper, has shown that incorporating fun into the workplace can have countless good effects including reduced stress, lower turnover rates and increased productivity. The concept of play should never be looked at as the opposite of work. For a healthy, balanced, and engaged workforce, play should be something that is incorporated into every day.
Whether we like it or not, there are days in the office when we feel like tasks are becoming too boring and too routine. This lack of challenge can lead to boredom and lack of engagement. Feeling stuck in a rut could affect overall productivity and performance at work.
To avoid this from happening – to both yourself, and your employees – it is important to keep our office environment and tasks as stimulating and motivating as possible. Even during down time, it is best to prepare ad-hoc tasks and other side plans to keep minds preoccupied and help work be as exciting and interesting as possible. To do this, you can try the five following ways below:
1. Get up and move
Best way to fight off boredom is to get the blood pumping. Exercise and getting in motion directly lowers the amount of stress we feel, by amplifying the production of endorphins.
Scattering some short desk exercises throughout the workday can boost employee morale, provide a burst of energy and ultimately increase engagement. Even small actions like stretching or going for a coffee run can go a long way in improving your mood and spicing up your day.
Lack of movement and exercise can cause you to lose motivation and alertness. So, whenever you feel a little sleepy at your desk, all that you may need is a short break where you can move and walk around. Go take a stroll or grab a coworker and explore the office. Look for a change of view that can awaken your senses and return to work with a more alert and inspired mind. Encourage all employees to take their lunch break and get away from the office if they can.
We’re also seeing a rise in the number of companies offering fitness-related benefits, such as a lunchtime yoga class, or discounted gym membership. However, getting staff moving doesn’t have to be a big expense or commitment. Even just giving staff a space to share their interests and create their own in-house company or department teams can prove invaluable; for example, using intranet teams to set up an office soccer league, or a company running club. Get your employees motivating one another can a powerful, yet cheap, way to reap the rewards of a fitter, active workforce.
2. Have a little chit-chat with co-workers
There’s nothing wrong with a little water cooler talk. Researchers from Tel Aviv University completed a study that found that the factor most directly related to health was support from coworkers. They followed 820 adults for 20 years and concluded that coworkers had the biggest impact on your health.
So, when struggling to find some motivation at the workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out to your coworkers. Building a good rapport among coworkers is a sure way to make the most out of mundane everyday activities. They may be able to provide another outlook and mind frame that will quell your boredom and spice up your day.
As a manager, be aware of the value of your staff building relationships and rapport with one another, and the positive impact it can have on elements such as culture, retention, and overall well-being. While we don’t want staff to become time-wasters and abuse work time to gossip, there’s a balance to be reached. Imposing restrictions on socializing or in-office chatter in order to drive productivity can actually have the opposite result.
3. Personalize your space
The average person spends 1842 hours at work per year. Seeing as how your office is basically your second home, it seems like a good idea to spruce it up and make it your own. Comfortability will also lead to a more inspired mind frame. A report from the World Health Building Council states, “There is overwhelming evidence that the design of an office impacts the health, well-being and productivity of its occupants.”
Gone are the days of rows of identical grey cubicles with bare walls and the corporate, company-approved décor. While your office space plays a role in portraying your brand and there’s a case for having guidelines if it’s somewhere you welcome customers or clients, don’t impose a prison on your staff.
Inject some color, photography and art, features, or points of interest. Mix up the desk swivel chairs with more informal collaborative spaces that include sofas, relaxing chairs, or even beanbags. Allow employees to put up some family photos in their individual spaces, or to get a plant, clock, ornaments. Hang up some inspiration, quotes, or a calendar with pictures of cats and dogs. All these things will make your staff feel more at ease and invested in your workplace (not to mention its bound to be a conversation starter).
4. Challenge and outdo yourself every week
Work becomes uninteresting if it is not challenging. If you, or your staff, are already good at what you do and the usual routine leaves you unchallenged, try to set fresh goals for each week (or each month), and encourage your staff to do the same. It could be anything depending on the role – like a higher quota for example, more output units, and other types of metrics that would fit the job position.
Consider creating mini incentives or challenges for teams, bringing gamification into the workplace. Perhaps you’re working together to a common goal or objective, and can visualize it to bring it to life and give your staff focus – for example, creating a thermometer broken up into sections that represent a certain value, or a large Monopoly board with steps to get to the end goal. Introducing a touch of competition amongst team mates may also help break up the mundane and add incentive.
According to Gallup, 51% of U.S. workers overall (60% of millennials) are considering new employment opportunities. Employees that are unaware or bored with their responsibilities and have unclear or nonexistent performance goals tend to disengage. Ensure you give employees, and yourself, something to work towards – and revisit and refresh it regularly.
5. Take work out of the office
Another way to introduce fun into your workday is through work-sponsored outings. Socializing and chit chat with co-workers in the office serves as a good way to get to know the people around you, but you can break up the routine even more by moving your operations to a different, low pressure location.
Company outings can be a great investment for your team. Statistics show that employees who are “engaged and thriving” are 59 percent less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.
It can’t hurt to incorporate some community building activities into your work place. Companies like Interact host team drinks outings every few months, while Rent the Runway founder Jenn Hyman and her team goes “off the island” for team-building activities. Company culture is important: employees need to feel a sense of community to keep them engaged.
There are endless ways to make office work interesting – from bonding cultural events or company volunteering. The bottom line here is to create a work environment that is free from negative thoughts, emotions and toxicity from poor employer-employee relationship or even between employee-employee relationships.
Individuals can gain insight into themselves by recognizing the need for fun in the office and taking strides to challenge themselves on a daily basis. If you find your staff tend to laze around for hours at a time, all you might need is a different view or ambiance. Encourage managers to embrace flexibility and change, even if it’s just letting staff go to a cafe or maybe work from a different area for the moment. Who knows, it might help raise interest and productivity even more. The key is to find the right balance of freedom and structure that works for you and your organization.
Read more at Gemma’s office search service FindMyWorkspace.com.