There’s a time and place for play and the workplace isn’t it. Right? Wrong!
In the office, play is often deemed frivolous and unnecessary by owners and managers. They see it as a distraction; a break from ‘real work.’ But an Inc. article we read recently puts across a persuasive argument for incorporating playful tactics within the workplace, explaining how they could be extremely beneficial for business.
The article’s author, Brendan Boyle – a toy inventor whose job also involves helping companies integrate play into their culture – believes play enables us to experiment, empathise and take creative risks. Play keeps us engaged, fosters innovation and makes for more inspiring, satisfying workplaces.
Brendan goes on to pinpoint different types of play and the benefits they could have for your team and company.
Games inspire healthy competition, camaraderie and teamwork – all of which are important qualities to have in the workplace. Brendan notes how games aren’t dissimilar to brainstorm sessions in the behaviours they elicit; attendees all want to impress one another, but ultimately, working as a group where every member contributes will always generate the best, most well-informed ideas.
As founder of Toy Lab, which has developed over 200 toys, Brendan notes how kids are used to not winning a game the first time they play it, but they’ll always try again. Recovering from losses enables employees to learn quicker and get closer to a win than if they never attempted it at all. Taking healthy risks encourages us to step out of our comfort zones and test new ideas – it’s key to innovation.
Inventing new toys involves a lot of figuring out how to make ideas come to life, Brendan explains. This may involve weeks simply exploring solutions, but it’s not until the team begins to actually, physically test idea that progress is made. In a similar way, exploratory play can support teams when trialling new ideas and concepts, as well as solve challenges more efficiently.
Storytelling and narrative play
Goods toys typically have great stories behind them, says Brendan, who argues that being a good storyteller is pivotal to making innovation a reality. In your workplace, having your employees working on their storytelling skills could help when it comes to giving your products and services context, and differentiating your brand from others.
For kids, physical play enables them to test and practice physical and social skills. Brendan explains how he designs his workspaces to be like playgrounds; they have flexible, open environments which inspire people to move around and ‘bump’ into people who they don’t work next to. He believes these random encounters are what fire up creativity.
Speaking of flexible, open workplaces, if it’s time for an office revamp and you’re looking for a partner who can manage the entire process, speak to the experts at Kerr today.