How the act of Play can boost Productivity

When is the last time you were playful?  Do you ever allow yourself or encourage your team at work to be playful?  Have you ever taken a difficult task and invented a way to make it fun or exciting?

We recently rolled out our strategy for the next financial year and our target is to inspire 200 people in their career journeys. This means finding people their next dream job, coaching them or assisting them to improve their personal brand.

To do this, we devised a game that brings our whole team together, actively working towards that one common goal.  Our office is obsessed with Game of Thrones so our game is loosely themed on the hit TV show.  Here's a look at the board game we designed:

We have four Houses that begin separate journeys, all heading towards the main goal of helping 200.  For every person helped, the House moves forward one step.  Every ten steps, the House opens a note or scroll that tells a story and rewards their efforts.  The rewards are nothing huge; just small things that will make our team members smile, help them through the day, or give them a chance to celebrate their wins.  

Here's a peek at the avatar magnets we made for each team member:

When a House achieves their own goal of helping 50 people, the team members disperse, forming alliances with other Houses to help them achieve their goal.  The culmination will be our entire office gunning for that goal of 200!

When the human brain is in a state of play, amazing things occur:

  • Gamification promotes emotional connection between players on your team.
  • Playing releases endorphins which lowers stress, creating the optimum environment for productivity.
  • Dopamine is released when we are rewarded, which creates positive associations to the task you are doing.
  • Games break down larger tasks into smaller ones, making them seem more achievable and creating a sense of optimism.  

Whether you lead a team or work within one, think of how you can instigate the act of playing in your daily work life. It could be a friendly competition among your peers, or it could be an elaborate game played by your whole office.  Whatever form it takes, make sure you add a little playfulness to your workplace!