Recent years have seen the adoption of the “Work Hard / Play Hard” adage into company cultures across the country; from Fortune 500 enterprises to the boutique creative agency down the road, it seems everyone is looking to inject some fun into work. And while many may see this as a passing trend, aimed more at enticing new talent than a relevant investment in productivity and revenue, science begs to differ.
Those who play hard, work hard
Science has show a direct correlation between leisure-drive & play-drive, the desire to seek out recreation and the need to achieve, meaning those who like to work hard actually do like to play hard. Fostering the leisure-drive through activities sponsored and encouraged by an employer can help to increase the achievement / work drive. Employees who satisfy both their accomplishment and leisure drives are likely going to be your happiest and most successful team members. Sounds like it’s time to host a team wide paddle board race across the bay!
Play is the ultimate ice breaker
Tear down the power structures that keep people from sharing and stifle innovation and the creative voice through incorporating play. The team hierarchy can be overridden through engaging in the natural process of play, where teams can begin to explore what is possible, sparking the signals that exists within each of us. Play lights up the creative centers of the brain while silencing the “inner-editor” who often suppresses inventiveness. Simply put: Your staff will communicate and collaborate more effectively and creatively through play.
It makes you smarter!
No really. Nothing sets the brain on fire like play. Play ignites the brain's control center, which among other things has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans, and problem solving. Very beneficial as children, but still relevant as adults, “the experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain" says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta And it’s through these changes that the executive control center of the brain is manipulated and enhanced, allowing us to learn, create, and negotiate.
Decrease stress, Increase revenue
Science has proven that stress is one of the leading causes in reduced productivity, employee turnover, and missed work, all causing loss in revenue. But what researchers have also found is that not just laughter, but even the anticipation of laughter, can reduce stress hormones that cause anxiety, depression, sleep problems, as well as a host of physical problems, by 40-70%. Creating opportunities to destress within the workplace allows team members to act more quickly, think and strategize more clearly, and collaborate more effectively all of which leads to increased productivity and revenue. So in your next off-site meeting try starting your session with a laughing yoga class to bring those cortisol levels down!
Play builds trust
“The basis of human trust is established through play signals. And we begin to lose those signals, culturally and otherwise, as adults.” says play researcher, Stewart Brown. We learn to trust each other as children by playing make believe with friends, getting into trouble with siblings, tempting fate with one more game at recess. We build on our relationships with each other and learn how to adapt, create, problem solve, and evolve. Together. As a team. And as adults, we need to create relationships that have equally deep roots. Incorporating play into your work culture will help cultivate a team that knows how to trust and rely on each other. Imagine the value (and the fun!) in that.
Not only has science proved that there is serious merit to the work hard / play hard mentality, but businesses everywhere who have truly embraced the idea of incorporating play into work have reaped the benefits of better team collaboration, reduced stress levels, and unparalleled productivity. As you look to find new ways to implement this way of thinking into your business seek out opportunities to “get off campus” and change the scenery, be creative in the times and scenarios in which you include play, and commit infusing each day with a bit of fun.
The Point is the first “California Style Offsite,” meeting space embodying the west coast work/life balance mentality. The space offers a hip, high-tech work space with open views of the Bay and includes access to a wide span of water sports. Now companies can have access to a “Google-like” atmosphere and find a brief escape from the confines of their office space with a trip to The Point, on Mission Bay.