It seems that now, like no other time in American history, people are spending more and more time at work, and for many of us, working a 40-hour workweek is a long faded memory of the good old days.
The reasons why we do it are as varied as we are. Maybe we’ve been asked to carry additional load due to layoffs, downsizing, turnover, or single-threaded expertise. Perhaps we’re putting in extra time and effort in order to advance our careers. Or maybe, we’re just trying to make ends meet and build some financial security.
So, here we are working 10-12 hour days with a commute on either end, combined with an increasing frequency of working from home on the weekends. It doesn’t take long to realize that this leaves us with very little personal time – time to socialize, have fun, and make some “me” time. In fact, because we are spending so much time at work, this often becomes our primary, if not only, social outlet.
With all of this in mind, the question is “is it ok to have fun at work?” The answer is absolutely! OK, but wait just a minute says the naysayer. “the reason why I’m putting in these long hours is so I can keep my head above water. I don’t have time for fun.””
I beg to differ. I firmly believe that having fun at work is absolutely essential and necessary for maintaining a healthy balance, allowing us to not only do our job well, but to enjoy it, too. I’m not saying that you have to break out the Hoppity Hops for a few laps around the office, but I am saying that it’s alright to set aside the seriousness of work for a few minutes and have a little fun.
A little fun can go a long way toward maintaining a positive and productive workplace. Take a moment to think about something that made you laugh recently. Did you notice that simply thinking about it put a smile on your face? Do you suddenly feel more relaxed? More open minded? Maybe even a little more receptive to tackling that pile of reports due by the end of the day?
How do you bring fun into the workplace? It all starts with the most critical element – a positive attitude.
When I think of fun in the workplace, I often recall a period of time many years ago when I worked within the bank’s deposit operations department. The workload was heavy at times and required accuracy and attention to detail. The work never felt repetitive or tedious because in spite of working very hard, our entire department always had fun, and never more so than on the busiest of days.
Sometimes it was pure silliness, like looking up from your work to find a coworker wearing those glasses with the crazy plastic eyeballs hanging on springs, returning from lunch to find your holiday decorations replaced with Pixie Stix, or picking up the handset of your phone to find plastic spiders waiting there to surprise you.
Other times it was more thought out. For example, at the end of each month, we typically worked six to eight hours of overtime, printing and manually stuffing customer statements into envelopes. We made a party out of the situation – literally! The company brought in dinner for us, and we each brought in our favorite music to work along to. With our tummies satisfied and the disco hits blaring, we worked like a well-tuned assembly line, accomplishing a lot, and having fun the entire time. I still have fond memories this, guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.
So, my answer to “Fun…at work?” is absolutely YES!