Sitting at my desk at the Dash co-working space, a sudden uproar alerted me. Looking up, I saw a nerf war in progress among the Zimpleweb team. Lots of laughter ensued. Within about 10 minutes, everything had settled down and the Nerf Warriors had returned to work.
Over the following weeks, I watched with fascination as daily laughter would erupt from the Zimpleweb office. Every day I, and those around me, would share a laugh, as the contagious happiness oozed out to us.
Speaking with their co-owner Blake Bennett, I mentioned how much I loved seeing his team play. Blake agreed and told me how important it was to him and the team. Being the curious soul that I am I asked Blake for more of his time, so that I could understand how play co-exists with the importance of focus and output in the tech space.
Blake recognises that it’s a fine line between the two. The team at Zimpleweb are a creative bunch and he sees play as integral in helping to foster that creativity. And it works well. When there are tight deadlines to meet, people knuckle down. Managers have confidently put boundaries in place and team members show a healthy respect for “play” versus “work” time.
Zimpleweb is one of many businesses recognising the importance of play. While some may argue that play is a distraction away from “real work”, there’s a growing body of research suggesting that play is a workplace imperative.
According to the US-based National Institute for Play:
“Science provides data to show that playful ways of work lead to more creative, adaptable, workers and teams… Playful environments powerfully shape the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain where the highest cognitive processing takes place.”
In the workplace, play:
- Reduces stress by releasing endorphins – those wonderful “feel good” hormones.
- Creates stronger relationships. With a majority of our time spent in the workplace, healthy relationships are vital. Play helps to develop and improve social skills and strengthen bonds, making it easier to resolve workplace conflicts.
- Helps people find mental clarity – promoting wellbeing and reducing absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as improving productivity.
- Creates a more positive and energised workforce, with the inevitable flow-on effect to the business’ bottom-line.
Big business, such as the Virgin Group of companies, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Zappos are well known for their cultures of play, however play isn’t only the domain of the big corporates. Being More Human has clients of all sizes who play regularly! Play is anything that provides joy to individuals so the best ideas will often come from your employees themselves.
Mini office putt-putt courses; bake-off challenges; baby photo competitions; lunchtime card games; guitar playing, yoga and of course nerf wars are just some of the ways we see our clients play.
How does your workplace play?