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‘Fun’ at work….

November 10, 2011

Volkswagen came up with the theory that making things ‘fun’ was the simplest way to change behaviour. This got me thinking to why this was so and what effect this might have on the world of work…..

This video got me thinking about the converstions I have had with clients about what their work was like (very few of them tell me how fun it is, in fact many use war type metaphors, e.g. going into battle, winners and losers etc.) and consequently how ‘fun’ I found my work…..

Fun at work sounds a bit like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Fun work. Surely work shouldn’t be fun……… Yet we know that when we are having fun we engage different parts of our brains and as a consequence are more creative and come up with better solutions. When we find work fun, we are also often more able to tackle the tough sticky issues that feel impossible. So how come we don’t make work more fun, more of the time?

Did you know that our brains are plastic? Hence the term neuro-plasticity. They are capable of change and growth with the potential to generate 7000 – 9000 new cells every day. Our left pre-frontal lobe is associated with happiness and well-being and conversely our right pre-frontal lobe is associated with depression. This is a growing area of research in neuro-science and it is being proved that people who actively take measures to develop their left pre-frontal lobe have higher reported degrees of well being and are able to manage the stresses and strains of life. Some of the ways to develop this area of your brain is through mindfulness practices such as meditation(1). and another way is to have fun. For instance, going to see a comedian has been proven to stimulate this part of our brain. And therefore, if we know this to be true, why not create the neural pathways that are likely to make us both happier and more effective?  Who wouldn’t want to have a happier workforces with less stress related illness and therefore greater productivity. So why don’t we actively make work more fun?

The world of work and indeed the word itself has a whole number of beliefs associated with it and these beliefs drive what we do, our behaviour.  Some of those beliefs could include: ‘meetings are meant to be business like’ , ‘It’s supposed to take effort, isn’t it?’ or ‘It’s all about difficult decisions’. May’be we believe – ‘If it comes to easily the achievement is lessened’. It should feel like work. Well, what if some of the time that wasn’t true? What if we created the environment were ease was the way forward and we spent more time solving the problem rather than agonizing over its details; developing  and developing it so that it became overwhelming. What if we knew that giving people permission to have fun, at least some of the time, increased their overall productivity? And I have purposefully used the word permission as we somehow seem to need permission to make work fun. If we were having fun, what might people think? And if we were having too much fun – well god forbid. What if we started to laugh at how seriously we took things, after al,l when we put it into perspective, it’s only work.

Fun is an odd word and will mean different things to different people and you recognise it when you feel it. We recognise those teams who are able to  bring some levity to their work and often those are the teams that are highly functioning and working co-operatively. They are also the teams that are able to debate and disagree, knowing that they have a strong foundation from which to do this. They are able to navigate the highs and lows with a sense of perspective.

The world is changing and we are being asked to come up with new solutions. We have to transform what we are doing to even get the same results that we were getting before.  Yet, if we approach the world as a problem a our mood sinks lower and we are less able to come up with solutions.

How could you make work more fun today?

(1)Lemonick, Michael D. The Biology of Joy. Time. 2005
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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2011 10:04 am

    Many thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found it useful.

    Lucy

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