What’s fun got to do with work?


Your employees are having fun at work? Great – it’s good for your business!

If you think about it, fun and work have historically belonged together. During the agricultural age, work songs were the elements of fun that helped make repetitive tasks more bearable, and the long working hours go by faster. [1] Today, this positive relation is scientifically proven: fun at work increases employee productivity, creates a stronger commitment, as well as boosts morale and creativity. [2]

Positive emotions give you inspiration and motivation to work, which seem to drive employee well-being and positive business results[3] Besides, fun that involves laughing is particularly effective for employees’ productivity – it releases endorphins and helps relax, which make people more creative and energetic once they get back to work. That also explains why employees in a fun work environment complain less about boredom, anxiety, and stress. [2]

Now, all the positive ‘side effects’ of fun at work makes sense of why 98% of managers would rather hire people with a good sense of humour, as discovered in one survey. And not only because funny people can boost office atmosphere and boost its overall productivity, but also because nearly 48% of employers actually believe that witty people can work better than those who are not witty. [4] Turns out, employers associate humour with intelligence and creativity. (So if you’re looking for a job, maybe it’s time to practice some jokes!)

Not all fun is effective

It’s good to have fun at work, since it makes employees happier and more satisfied with their jobs. But while having fun can make you more productive, not all fun is productive. There can be situations when it becomes a dysfunctional jamboree, which gets in the way of actually getting stuff done. And sometimes employees can get so focused on having a good time at work that it becomes a job in its own right. That is, fun becomes a time waster.

But then – what fun is effective? Here are some fun things we’d recommend:

Play games at work

Gamification elements are proven to motivate and engage employees, as well as encourage knowledge sharing. Applying fun, play and challenges in the workplace are found to boost employees’ creativity and critical thinking. [5]

Here at DeskTime, we tried the Scrum Lego game. The rules are simple: employees have to work in teams and construct a city with Lego bricks in sprints of 5 minutes. This simple game is not only fun, but also great for improving teamwork and project management skills.


Experiment (and fail!)

According to one study, employees perceived work to be more playful and fun when their managers regularly used words and phrases like explore, be inventive, play around with, and similar. [2] Got the hint? Fun also means experiments and failures, as well as challenges and celebrating success.

Have a good laugh

Among other fun stuff, Google has an internal meme generator for all the inside jokes that Google employees have with each other. Because it makes their employees laugh, and remember? Laughing makes people more creative and energetic, and thus more effective at their jobs. So learn from the best – it’s okay for employees to take some time off to laugh at silly YouTube videos, or simply have fun with co-workers, because later it’ll make them more focused and productive.

Have a place to relax

Make sure your employees have a chillout area, where they can simply take a rest. Breaks are important for productivity, and they are even more efficient when spent away from a laptop in a comfy place. Companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo have chillout zones with slides, pool tables and video games; here at DeskTime we have a summer terrace, while one company in Britain even has a break room with 81,000 plastic balls. Because such low pressure environments help employees relax and clear their minds, and thus boost office productivity.


Make sure your employees have a good time at work! If they don’t, maybe it’s your time to become a funologist – a person who provides various fun activities for employees that advance the goals of the organization. [2] At the end, all the games, experiments and laughing will work for you, you’ll see!

1. Yerkes, L. 2007, Fun works: creating places where people love to work, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.
2. Ford, R.C. 2004, “Having fun at work”, Engineering Management, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 32.
3. Hazelton, S. 2014, “Positive emotions boost employee engagement: Making work fun brings individual and organizational success”, Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 34-37.
4. “Have fun at work”, 2006, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 55, no. 7.
5. Dale, S. 2014, “Gamification: Making work fun, or making fun of work?”, Business Information Review, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 82-90.

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