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At my workplace (and even during group assignments at my university) we tend to have some fun during work. We watch short, interesting or funny videos, gifs, or show hilarious memes to each other. We automatically start having a little fun when we feel it’s time to relieve some stress. As we work in a fun environment it’s quite easy to do so. However, after a while I realised that there’s a certain point, beyond which I became unproductive and less motivated to get back to my task. Consequently, my work proceeded slowly.

After realising this I thought to myself: hm, having a fun office environment is indeed awesome, but where is the point, where it decreases an employee’s productivity?

This topic was worth writing a blog article.

 

The problem?

Many people think that ‘games’ and ‘fun’ are absolutely negative words in the world of office life. But these are not necessarily frivolous. To the contrary, they can have very beneficial impacts on our business. As Oliver Wendell Holmes says: “We don’t quit playing because we grow older; we grow older because we quit playing.”

 

As always, we should first define what do we mean by ‘fun office’.

In our words:

A fun office is an office, where the environment enables employees to have fun with games and entertaining contents for the sake of higher creativity, productivity and less stress. This purpose is achieved by including specific assets (darts board, table tennis table etc.) in the office, and enabled via corporate culture – management and colleagues, who are open for it.

Is it worth having a fun office?

Absolutely. This type of office has way too many benefits as reasons to invest in making an office a more entertaining place. Here are the most important arguments for it:

  1. boosts creativity
  2. increases productivity – a quite recent study has shown, that by giving a little, 10-minute “happiness shock” to an employee increases his/her productivity by 12%. In some cases by 20%.
  3. supports employer branding
  4. decreases employee burnout
  5. increases employee retention and engagement

 

…and so on.

fun office

However, too much can be bad. Before we list our arguments why it can be an problem, let’s answer the question: what is an overly fun office?

In our words:

An overly fun office means, that the employees working in this environment can be distracted (tempted) too easily by the vast amount of fun activity possibilities, and thus spend more time with playing than actually working. Second, as a necessary but not sufficient element: the corporate culture is too concessive on this matter.

4 ways it decreases the willingness to work

#1 It takes focus more easily

It doesn’t require much explanation: losing and regaining focus is like the opposite of losing and getting fat. It’s very easy to turn your focus from work to fun, but it’s very hard to regain it after.

#2 It takes re-focusing longer to obtain again

It varies by people, but study shows, that in average it takes 5-15 minutes to regain focus. If an employee gets distracted during this period, the time for regaining focus starts again.

 

#3, Fun environment is not for everyone

There are always some employees, who consider their workplace strictly a workplace and thus unwilling to have fun there. However, if these kind of employees see too many colleagues playing with games instead of working, it can demotivate them (or even make them furious). Worst case scenario, it’ll decrease the company’s employee engagement…or they’ll simply leave the company.

 

4, Increased desire for seeking funny content (Facebook, 9GAG etc.) during work

In other words: it increases the chance of not resisting time wasters, thus losing valuable time by watching fun videos, memes and pictures.

Distractions everywhere

#5 It’s contagious

In case 1 or more employees start visibly having fun, suddenly more employees will become curious and eager to join.

 

In conclusion, the biggest threat is that it significantly decreases a company’s productivity. It creates a vicious circle, into which is easy to fall. An employee starts bothering with fun and entertaining stuff during work, which takes his/her focus and the colleagues’. After a while the employees go back to their place, but as an after effect, before getting back the focus an employee starts looking for fun stuff again. And the works stalls. If this goes further, it can even demotivate an employee from actually working.

 

5 ways to avoid the negative effects

#1 Emphasising: it’s a workplace, not a playground!

All the employees have to understand: a workplace with fun activity possibilities is still a workplace. Playing games and having fun can only be accepted, if it serves for the purpose of better performance during work.

Workplace unity

#2 Corporate culture

It’s up to the management to make the co-workers realize games are recommended and supported, but only until a healthy level.

 

#3 Limited time and opportunities for fun activities

It’s absolutely worth having sports equipment in an office, but don’t invest in more toys than the sufficient. Plus, a proper corporate culture and decent amount of challenging tasks can ensure a good balance. A sufficiently happy and engaged employee won’t need more fun!

 

#3 Getting back the focus before starting doing fun activities

If the employees can regain focus fast plus learn to exclude the distractors, the work will go on.

Focused employee

#5 Worst case scenario: speak with the overly playful employee(s)

Yes, there is a point where you should have a private (!) talk with an overly fun employee. The employee will understand and the problem is solved (probably).

 

Summary

If you’d like to invest in making your office a more fun place: do it! However, it can backfire if you don’t keep an eye on some crucial aspects. When an employee turns to fun activities instead of working can be an indicator that the employee is demotivated. Or s/he has too easy tasks. In this case even by giving him/her more challenging tasks can cure the problem.

Remember: a boring, stressful environment won’t make a company move further. Neither an overheated one.

 

From LinkedIn – see the article here.

 

Related articles:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/paycom/2017/02/09/benefits-of-fun-in-the-workplace/#645e26d778b1

http://www.aim.ph/blog/5-benefits-fun-working-environment/

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288223

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/6-reasons-to-have-more-fun-at-work-1/

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