At home, we have a hand-made calendar where we used to note who would be away and when. You can imagine that the calendar has been pretty empty lately. So we decided to fill it with some of the random international days and honour those days in our daily routine. On international peanut butter day we baked delicious peanut butter cupcakes, and on the day of bubble wrap we had very meditative coffee breaks popping one bubble at the time, no need to say that international day of sweat pants was an easy one to celebrate.
But today is a very special one: It’s international Fun at Work Day. How cool is that? We knew this day had to make it into our calendar and we had lots of ideas how to embrace this special day in the home office – think: colourful food, music, dancing (yes, also in virtual meetings), carnival gadgets (we live in Germany's carnaval capital), fanfare to announce coffee breaks...those who know me won’t find it hard to picture my excitement when I found out about this.
Do we need this day?
While we are enjoying the day, we think to ourselves that it is a pity that there seems to be the for a dedicated day to fun at work. Like many other international days, it shouldn’t be necessary to have a dedicated day to raise awareness for the importance of topics. Now, of course I don’t want to put fun at work into the same category as topics such as domestic violence, cancer, autism or human rights.
My point is that the things that deserve attention often get neglected on a day-to-day base, both the big important topics of world-wide relevance as well as the simple but also important topics. In my work I regularly witness how people get caught up in deadlines, competition, pitches, meetings and project goals creating high level of stress and very often a low level of joy
“Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”
Why we need fun at work
My colleague, friend and mentor Gary Thomas has a favourite song called Enjoy yourself by The Specials. The chorus goes: “enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”. Gary likes to play this song before a training as participants walk in (when that was still happening) to prime both himself and the group. I am not sure if he plays it in virtual training as well. I’ll need to ask.
I have had the pleasure of training together with Gary many times and got to listen to the song in as many variations as there are – including him playing it on the bass with his band. And I can say the song really does lift the mood in the room.
While this is one example of how to bring joy into your work with very simple means, the lyrics also communicate an important message: “it is later than you think” – I hear: we should not waste time doing things that we do not enjoy. Yes, I know: no news in that and yes, I know: there are things that are part of our work and are simply not fun. Believe me, I will never wake up in the morning and be super excited about doing my taxes or ordering office supplies.
But imagine just for a second it would be possible to have a moment of fun at work each day, even if it is just a minute. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Well, an optimist by nature, I believe that we all can have that and be no less productive or competent in what we do. Studies have shown even that there are possible side effects such as enjoying your work more, having better relationships with colleagues, reducing stress level because we allow our brain to rest, becoming more creative and as a result increase our level of satisfaction in the job.
Have yourself a merry little fun
If you are willing to risk these side effects, here are a few ideas on how to bring joy into your work - not only on Have Fun at Work day. Some of them are particularly suited for a home office setting.
Especially since the start of the pandemic, mental health has become a much discussed topic. Adding some fun to your work day is likely to improve mental health.
My challenge for you:
1 minute of fun each day for one week.
Having fun by yourself
Having fun with colleagues
Enjoy your week!
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