WHEN IS AN OFFICE ALSO A PLAYGROUND?

Symon Wheelhouse
23rd Mar 2023
Article

Ask yourself, when you think of fun, what do you think of? Or maybe think of what you do to unwind or engage with your friends & family? Perhaps this was a family game you played as a child, the pub quiz you go to every month, being a member of a sports team, the games you made up with your university housemates, or the video-game you play after a hard day’s work to unwind. What does this have to do with work you ask? Well, they are all methods of play! Imagine what it would be like if you could experience that relaxation, or joyful laughter at work and how that might change your life.

“THE GOAL IS NOT SIMPLY ‘TO WORK HARD PLAY HARD’. THE GOAL IS TO MAKE OUR WORK AND OUR PLAY INDISTINGUISHABLE.” SIMON SINEK 

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, many organisations are looking for ways to improve workplace culture and performance whilst driving business success and the bottom line. One approach that has been gaining traction in recent years, and one Kin&Co holds as a core value, is the incorporation of play into the workplace. 

So what is play? Play can be defined as any activity that is enjoyable, voluntary and intrinsically motivated. It is an activity that we engage in for its own sake, rather than for any external reward or outcome. When you can tailor this to your team and context, it can also become a powerful business tool. 

At first glance, the idea of play in the workplace may seem frivolous or even counterproductive to some. After all, isn’t work supposed to be serious and focused? The truth may be surprising as research has shown that incorporating play into the workplace can have a  wide range of benefits for both employees and employers. 

One of the most important benefits of play in the workplace is that it can help to foster a positive and collaborative culture. When employees are given the opportunity to engage in playful activities together, such as team building exercises, energisers at the start of meetings, or games, they are more likely to form positive relationships and feel a sense of camaraderie with their colleagues. This can lead to increased morale and job satisfaction, which in turn can improve productivity and profitability, and reduce turn over rates. 

As a team we met in our quarterly power-up last week to reconnect with one of our most important values: ‘Stay Playful’, which makes us unique in our approach and is something that our clients tell us they love most about working with us. We believe it is important to spend time experiencing our values in action, exploring how these show up for different people in different ways and how this plays a role in the way we do our work in support of our purpose of ‘making organisations work for the world’.

At Kin&Co we try to factor in all the major ‘types’ of play through our approaches with the team including; physical, dramatic, sensory, nature, music & art and age-appropriate play, along with the eight adult ‘styles’ of play which are; the joker, kinesthetic, explorer, competitor, director, creator, storyteller and the collector. In most organisations there are many types of people who will have different intrinsic behavioural profiles including extroverted and introverted dominant preferences. Exploring all the different styles and types of play, ensures that everyone is included and can engage in an authentic and comfortable way. 

With the  current global economic uncertainty people in work are more stressed than ever which is adding to burnout and other mental health related issues, moreover the growing number of articles about quiet quitting, permacrisis and other dystopian themes feel overwhelming at times. Here is precisely where the gift of play comes in, as taking breaks to engage in playful activity can help to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. As a direct result of nurturing the inherent creativity and innovation that comes through realising the potential of playful minds, you can expect to see lower attrition rates, higher performance and a competitive edge in the marketplace.

It is important to note that incorporating play into the workplace is not always easy. It requires a shift in mindset and culture, as well as a commitment to ongoing efforts to maintain a playful approach and provision of a set of tools which can be shared and modelled with your teams. 

Here at Kin&Co every whole team meeting begins with a game; we call them energisers. We believe that this practice helps to centre and direct the right energy into the space so we can focus on the task we are gathered for. It is worth noting that energisers are not all about raising the heart rate or getting excited, it can also be 5 minutes of mindfulness or relaxation before engaging in a reflective activity. Try it out, and choose your energiser to meet the vibe of the task and see how your team reacts. I am willing to bet it’s a positive experience for all. 

“THE CREATION OF SOMETHING NEW IS NOT ACCOMPLISHED BY THE INTELLECT BUT BY THE PLAY INSTINCT”. CARL JUNG

If you like any of the themes in this article, or need any help getting playful in your own company setting, you can find more information about Kin&Co at www.kinandco.com or reach out to info@kinandco.com