While some companies only focus on work performance, others take the welfare of their workers very seriously, particularly when it comes to assessing their working conditions. We’ve seen this time and time again - companies competing vigorously to be ranked as the best place to work in the world today. And one of the ways companies are trying to change the workplace is to make it feel more like a playground. A place where workers want to stay a little bit longer every day because they truly enjoy their workplace. Some of us might actually be tasked in our supervisory capacities to pull this off on behalf of our companies. Which begs the question...
How does one make their workplace feel more like a playground?
#1 Rid the Workplace of Unnecessary Formal Rules and Regulations
The essence of fun is in the fact that imperfections are tolerated, and not necessarily the fact that indiscipline is encouraged. So I’m not trying to say that tough rules should be scrapped altogether. But still - the workplace can’t feel like a playground if strict formal rules and regulations reign supreme in everyday affairs. For instance, insisting on wearing suits every day at the workplace WITH SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES for the disobedient will crush any prospects of a playful workplace. If some tolerable imperfections such as flexible clothing etiquette will bring about a more active, vibrant and innovative staff, then bend the rules a little while still maintaining discipline in the workplace. Speaking of which...
#2 Incorporate Colours and Objects that Bring about a Lively Atmosphere
Most workplaces consist of executive furniture, dull colours and constricted office spaces that make one feel like they’re caged. Such conditions will definitely not bring about a lively atmosphere. In fact, even clientèle will feel uneasy. So you want to ensure that workers yearn to come to work every day. But that can’t happen unless a lively atmosphere is created in the workplace. Take Google HQ in Silicon Valley for instance. From the interior design to the surrounding environment, the place feels more like a Disneyland of tech gurus. Talk of the choice of the sci-fi furniture, the bright colours incorporated in their interior design to the playing fields in surrounding parks, it is indeed a lively atmosphere. And just to be sure that your workplace ACTUALLY feels like a playground, bring some kids over and see what happens...
#3 Make the Work Schedule More Flexible and Accommodative
As I said earlier, some imperfections can be tolerated but indiscipline shouldn’t be encouraged. And so depending on the personal schedules of individuals, a flexible working schedule can be drafted around that to relieve the pressure that workers have to endure as they try to balance their work and personal lives. If the company shows that it’s got worker’s best interests at heart, then workers are likely to do the same in return. And that’s because this motivation in itself makes one feel like more like a stakeholder that wants to get more involved, instead of the usual servant that gets the job done for a monthly pay cheque.
#4 Operate a Revolving Door Policy in Task Assignment
You shouldn’t be surprised if workers seem dull day in - day out. Maybe the problem has been all about the ’same old’ tasks assigned to them. This makes the workplace seem like a robotic factory considering the fact that repetitive tasks lack that spark - unless these repetitive tasks are assigned on the basis of a revolving door policy. That is, workers occasionally assigned different tasks. This can be arranged on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the size of the workforce and the complexity of the tasks in question. And on that note...
#5 Design Intertwined Tasks that Make Teamwork and Socialization Inevitable
We’ve all been there - working in a company for so long yet you’ve only interacted with roughly 5-10% of the workforce. And it wasn’t our fault by the way because some jobs circumstances demand anonymity considering their intensity and what not. Unfortunately, such jobs bring about this sense of loneliness and makes workers feel like they’re surrounded by strangers. But when you view the workplace like home, then you want the workforce to be like family. But that can’t happen unless tasks are intertwined in such a way that socialization and teamwork is inevitable.
I personally love PlayStation games - and FIFA is my favourite. Sometimes I wish that my work life would be like playing FIFA. Fast paced, exhilarating, engaging and irresistibly tempting - so much so that time simply flies by and yet you don’t want to let go of that game pad. Isn’t that what we all want in the workplace? We might not be there yet, but making your workplace feel more like a playground would be great head start. As Kobe Bryant once put it, "The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do."
At work at play via servantleadershipinstitute