Why is work so much work? Why do we have to drag ourselves out of bed every weekday? Because work is just so tedious and boring.
How do you think about the weekends? With longing, no doubt, but also something more profound. My job is “what I do to earn money,” but the weekends and other leisure time are “my real life.” Why is that? Isn’t my job “real”? It’s because what I do with my leisure time is what I want to do, while at work I do whatever it is I’m “supposed” to do, whether I’m interested in it or not. And I’m fortunate to have a fulfilling, if stressful and demanding, career. For countless others, work is just a way to earn money for the necessities of life and a little fun now and then.
But why can’t work be fun? Besides “well, then it would be fun, not work.” Seriously. Why can’t we have fun at work?
Many employers try to engage their employees with rhetoric about being a “team” and how important the work is, but employees generally just listen politely until the boss goes away, allowing them to get on with the task at hand. What would be more a more effective to engage employees at an emotional level? Make it fun.
The company I’ve worked for that has done it the best is Camp Galileo, a summer day camp for kids. Nearly every day at camp is a dress-up day, we make up cheers, and play team-building games as a staff. It may sound corny, and it really is, but it also makes me look forward to going to work each day. I get excited to see what crazy hats my coworkers will wear and to show off my own, or to make them laugh during a game. Fun creates bonds between coworkers, relieves stress, and energizes employees for the work ahead.
Maybe your company is much too serious for such frivolity. I’m familiar with such companies. They tend to be rather soul-killing. If you work at such a place, I encourage you: add a little fun.
What do you think about the role of fun in the workplace? Add your own opinion and/or anecdotes in the comments below!