It was 10:30 PM on the last full day of our WinShape Teams staff retreat, and we had been playing volleyball for three hours. We were sandy and tired from playing what was, for us, competitive game after competitive game. Two colleagues who decided to record some of the fun from the sidelines seemed to miss every solid play I contributed and somehow only managed to capture my blooper reels.
…but let’s not focus on that.
Months later, our team still talks about playing volleyball and laughs about the experience. Although it was a casual, unscheduled activity, it was easily my most memorable moment from our retreat.
The importance of play has been widely studied and is known to be a critical part of early childhood psychology and development. The benefits of play don’t stop in our youth, but sadly, we tend to put far less stock in the benefits of play as we age – to our detriment. While work is undoubtedly important, fostering an environment of enjoyment and camaraderie can have a profound impact on team dynamics and overall productivity.
At WinShape Teams, our purpose is to build strong, healthy, and fulfilled teams that will change the world around them. One way to accomplish this is to incorporate intentional time to play with your team. In this blog, we explore how having fun with your team – like my unforgettable volleyball experience – can strengthen relationships, enhance communication, foster creativity, and ultimately lead to greater success.
3 Benefits of Play in the Workplace
1. Strengthening Relationships
Team members who have fun together form stronger bonds, both professionally and personally. Engaging in enjoyable activities creates shared experiences, breaks down barriers, and builds trust within the team.
At WinShape Teams, we create rhythms of play in quarterly meetings, community events, and our annual staff retreat. These experiences pay dividends in how we relate and work with one another. This allows more trust and understanding of one another’s intentions and motivations when working on challenges together.
2. Fostering Creativity
Fun has a remarkable way of unlocking creativity and inspiring innovative thinking. When individuals are relaxed and enjoying themselves, their minds are more open to new ideas and possibilities. Many organizations – like IDEO, a global design company – work to instill a culture of play across their organization to help generate the creativity and innovation needed to be successful.
At WinShape Teams, we work to value play as a critical part of our work, not a break-time activity or wasted time. This may take the form as an exercise or activity during a meeting or brainstorming exercises.
3. Encouraging a Positive Work Culture
One of the benefits of play in a group setting is that is creates a feeling of belonging. Creating a positive work culture is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Teams that prioritize fun and enjoyment create an environment where team members feel valued, appreciated, and engaged.
At WinShape Teams, we see firsthand the power of a positive work culture and how it impacts performance across an organization. When team members feel valued and fulfilled, they are more likely to bring their best selves to work each day and get more done.
Here are a few ideas of ways to incorporate play into your team environment:
- Identify the best ways to have fun with your unique team. Ice breakers and silly games may not be the best approach. Figure out how to incorporate rhythms of play that vary and value everyone’s interests.
- Schedule an outing to have fun together. Make it inclusive for everyone. Play doesn’t have to be a sport or a game. Puzzles or a team challenge can achieve the same results.
- When working on a particularly difficult challenge at work, schedule time to play through solving some puzzles, having a competition, or working on a challenge together prior to brainstorming solutions.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having fun with your team. Incorporating intentional play within your team goes far beyond mere enjoyment — it holds the power to unlock the true potential of each member by strengthening relationships, fostering creativity, and encouraging a positive work culture. Let’s embrace the transformative impact of play at work and enjoy some well-deserved fun!