Science Says You Need To Have Fun At Work, So Here Are 3 Ways To Have Productive Fun

By: Rohini Venkatraman

Do you like your job? Hopefully, the answer is yes. But if not, you are not alone. In fact a majority of American employees report that they don’t feel engaged at work. According to insights from behavioral science, people choose jobs that they think will make them happy by focusing on salary and potential promotion paths, but still end up unhappy. That’s because other factors like office culture and how much interesting and fun work you have is more important to us in the day-to-day. The key takeaway here isn’t necessarily to get up and leave your job in search of one that is more fun. Instead, it’s about focusing on the fun moments in your work routine and creating new ones where possible. The researchers provide some suggestions–like listening to music or making friends at work. Where I work, we choose moments of fun that will also inspire our creativity. Here are three of my favorite go-to’s:

1. Talk to people you don’t work with

When I am staffed on a project, it is typically with two or three other people. On the first day, we get together in our project space from there, delve deeply into whatever area we’re working on. We spend almost all our time together for three months. After a few weeks of research, we start to brainstorm concept ideas based on what we’ve learned. After we brainstorm on our own, we shake things up by inviting a group of fellow employees unconnected to our project to come and brainstorm with us. Because they haven’t been in the weeds like us, they open our eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking about our project. This makes our work more interesting for others because they get to briefly get involved with a team and topic outside of their routine.

When possible, bring new brains to the table to spark new ideas and ways of thinking.

2. Create a daily ritual, and make friends doing it

While many people will say they can’t start their day without a cup of coffee, I can’t start my day without making a cup of coffee. Our company kitchen boasts a beautiful espresso machine, where coffee enthusiasts and aspiring baristas–including our company’s partners and CEO–gather. Over time, I’ve made friends with people on other teams or in other functions who I would have likely not met otherwise. Each day, I look forward to taking a break and enjoying a shared experience with friends outside of my team. Better yet, research has shown that literally stepping away from your work can fuel creativity by relaxing the mind and allowing you to think in a different direction.

Whether it’s making coffee or taking a walk around the office, choose a quick activity you can look forward to in your work day, and have a friend join you.

3. Go on field trips

If you ask anyone at my company, field trips aren’t reserved for elementary school students. We get out of the office frequently to conduct interviews with industry expert or target consumers and to observe businesses analogous to the one we’re focused on. In addition to being unquestionably more fun than sitting in an office, field trips push us to think by seeing and doing. They test our biases and open our eyes to new ideas or considerations that are not otherwise apparent. For example, working on a packaged food project last summer, my team spent a day walking the food aisles at local grocery stores like Safeway and Costco to bring our project to life.

While it may not always be possible, try to find moments to leave the office and apply real-world context to your topic at hand.

Whether or not you intend for it, work is a big part of your life–the hours in your day and the thoughts in your brain. Find ways to make it fun and interesting, not only because it will make work more enjoyable, but also because it will make you more creative.

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