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May 17th, 2018
Why we work better when we ‘purposefully play’
by Alice Hesmondhalgh

Leaving play outside of the office is an opportunity lost to both the employee and organisation. In this new blog post, Project Manager Alice Hesmondhalgh explores why we work better when we play.

Silence isn’t always golden. More often than not we prefer the sound of a 5-minute ping pong rumble to create a laugh and unlock creative thinking. That’s why here at fusion, we live and breathe one of our core company values ‘we work better when we play’.

We don’t have an office like Google, where there are ladders to climb, bowling alleys to knockout a strike and workday scavenger hunts to join. But we do have a culture where we encourage employees and our workshop attendees to bring along their playful selves and be ‘purposefully playful’.

Future of Work define purposeful play as a holistic mindset. An attitude that brings fun, engagement, creativity and innovation to everyday monotonous tasks.

But what are the benefits of play at work?

Creativity & innovation.

Play engages the creative side of your brain (the right-hand side). Being engaged in play allows you step away from constrained ways of thinking and adopt more of a lateral thinking approach. Permitting you to connect the dots that had been unconnected before and find new solutions to challenges. Thus, proving play is not an indulgence but instead a catalyst for innovation.

“You can’t be a serious innovator unless you are ready, willing and able to seriously play. Serious play is not an oxymoron, it is the essence of innovation” (Michael Schrage)

Fun & engagement.

For children play is vital to their social development, social competence and their ability to interact with peers and adults. The same philosophies apply to adults. Playing with work colleagues can foster empathy, compassion and trust. Which as a result promotes collaboration and a sense of belonging throughout the organisation.

Play also can break down boundaries and tensions between teams and stakeholders. Play can encourage people to be more open to working together, rather than the adverse silo effect.
Good health.

Play can help combat stress because playful laughter triggers the release of endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals help promote a sense of psychological wellbeing and a good state of mind. As stress correlates with poor performance, lack of productivity, increased absenteeism and a generally poor attitude, encouraging a playful culture should theoretically have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Work hard, play hard!

All the above highlights that leaving playfulness outside of the office is an opportunity lost to both the employee and organisation.

Bring it to life.

In our experience, these are a few things you can do to boost purposeful play inside your organisation:

- Allow time to play. Allow yourself to take 5 minutes away from your desk when you feel you most need it. Play should not feel gimmicky nor planned. It’s about having the freedom to use play in the right way.

- Create the space to play. Remove the chairs from your meeting room table. Purchase a dart board. Create a gaming area. However big or small the gesture, ensure there is enough space available to bring out your inner child and stimulate the creative juices.

- Start your working day or next meeting differently. Spend the first 5 minutes of the meeting playing with Playdoh. When you are then hit by a tough strategic dilemma your mind is open to thinking differently to the challenge in question.

- Allow furry friends. If you don’t already have a bring-your-pet-to-work scheme, we would recommend you devise one now! These playful, canine creatures can help reduce stress levels and increase job satisfaction.