The unparalleled icon Bill Murray once said, “I realized the more fun I had, the more relaxed I was working, and the better I worked.” So maybe, that’s why January 28th has been designated as National Fun at Work Day.

Does that mean Dr. Peter Venkman himself is responsible for this unofficial January holiday? Of course not. The history of National Fun at Work Day is a little murky. However, the use of fun to raise team morale to achieve a common goal has been used by kings, commanders, and rulers throughout history.

And, for good reason. Well, several reasons, to be exact.

Firstly, studies have shown that happier employees are more productive — anywhere between 12% and 20%. Secondly, this builds collaboration between colleagues. And, it’s important to remember that employees with friends at work are twice as likely to be engaged as those without.

Still not convinced? Well, a fun work environment also has the following benefits;

  • Improves communication skills
  • Promotes creativity
  • Increases motivation and employee satisfaction
  • Reduces employee absences
  • Breaks down the entrenched organizational hierarchy
  • Encourages advocacy
  • Attracts an audience
  • Combats isolation and ow morale

That’s all well and good. But, how exactly can you have fun at work and still get things done? Well, are 12 ways that you make the workplace fun.

1. Have designated quiet and game areas.

To keep your team fresh and motivated, you need to encourage them to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Ideally, though, that means having them leave their workplace — even if it’s just for 10-minutes.

If you have an in-house team, consider setting up quiet spaces where team members can meditate, do yoga, take a nap, or read to clear their minds.

But that’s not exactly fun, is it? So that’s why you also should have a game area. Depending on your space and budget, this could be anything from a pool table to just a table where team members can play board games, trivia, or create crafts.

What if you have a remote or hybrid team? No worries. Instead of a physical games area, have fun and build camaraderie through online games. Some ideas would be video charades, Donut for Slack, Overcooked 2, Tabletopia, or Among Us.

2. Start happy-boosting traditions with your colleagues.

Personally, this is one of my faves. Why? Because this can be anything that sparks a little joy in your life.

For example, grabbing a cup of coffee from your favorite barista during a mid-morning break. Instead of going alone, invite a coworker and buy their coffee for them. Every week, you could do this with different team members. Besides making everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside, this gives you a chance to know each other better.

3. Wear clothing that makes you happy.

It’s no secret that your mood is influenced by your clothes, hence the expression “dress for success.” But did you know that this effect has its own name? It’s called “clothed cognition.”

It’s entirely possible that your actions, thoughts, and words might reflect the feelings you get from wearing something that makes you feel happy, calm, powerful, or capable. It’s kind of like how a splash of yellow in the workplace invokes happiness, optimism, and warmth.

For this reason, many companies provide employees with company swag to contribute to positive work culture.

4. Let the records play.

For over a century, employers have used music to energize employees. A classic example of this was when John Wanamaker installed a pipe organ in his department store in 1909. And, it turns out that he was on to something.

As Calendar co-founder and CEO John Rampton explains, “Music can enhance productivity at work,” according to research at the University of Miami. In addition, DeskTime found that employees who listened to music tended to work longer hours. Why is this?”

“Well, there are several possible reasons,” he adds. “For starters, music can give us more energy and enthusiasm while focusing on everyday tasks. What’s more, listening to music can reduce stress and maintain focus.” Music can also improve our mood and make us more productive. Again, when we’re happy, we’re more productive.

At the same time, music is highly subjective. So, you can allow your team members to listen to whatever they while working if they have headphones on so as not to distract others. And you could also have everyone join in on creating a shared playlist that you can play when socializing together.

5. Organize challenges.

“Friendly competition is always a good thing,” writes Jayson DeMers. “You can do this with professional items — for example, you can split your marketing force into two teams and have them compete to see who can generate the most leads in a given period.” Alternatively, you can sponsor a ping pong tournament or a similar activity to let your employees let off steam.

“Either way, the competition will get your workers’ blood pumping and will inspire them to work harder in all the other areas of their jobs,” he adds. “Plus, it can be a nice distraction from the rigors of a daily routine.”

6. Spruce up your workspace.

Perhaps one of the easiest strategies for making the workplace fun is sprucing up your workplace. For example, as a team, daybed, everyone could spend the afternoon cleaning and organizing their desks. Or, you could make suggestions on making the workplace more ergonomic.

However, this can be something that everyone does on their own. For example, you could allow your team to personalize their work areas. Letting everyone post pictures, display knick-knacks, or surround themselves with plants gives a greater sense of control. And, it could be an ice breaker to encourage more socialization.

7. Go out together.

“Socializing with your coworkers is essential for your career,” says Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work. “If you’re not able to relate to your coworkers as human beings and build positive relationships, your career will suffer.”

By getting to know each other as people, you will communicate better, trust each other more, and work together more effectively.

“Also, employees who have positive workplace relationships are happier at work (in fact, good workplace relationships are one of the most important sources of workplace happiness), and we know that people who are happy at work are more productive, more creative, and more successful overall,” she says.

Psychological consultant and executive coach Dr. Maynard Brusman says coworker socializing is commonplace in most offices. “The modern workplace has become a community center, or a ‘home away from home’ where people get many of their social needs met. Neuroscience research supports the idea that our brains are hard-wired to connect with others. We spend so much of our time at work that it’s natural that we develop relationships in the workplace.”

8. Celebrate birthdays and milestones.

Celebrations can enhance the feeling of family among team members. How so? It fosters an atmosphere of mutual support and caring.

Take advantage of every opportunity to show your employees appreciation while also having some fun at work. Best of all, there’s no need to organize elaborate events. It could be throwing birthday parties, sending team members a gift on their work anniversary, or writing handwritten “thank you” notes.

9. Who let the dogs out?

If you’re a dog owner, your heart probably breaks when your furry family member stares at you in sadness whenever you leave the house. Thankfully, remote workers don’t have to experience this as much. But, if you have to go to work, this problem can be erased if people can bring their dogs with them.

At the same time, it’s been found that having a dog in the workplace also has many benefits, such as;

  • Dog owners respond better to stress and have lower blood pressure. And, that’s good for their hearts.
  • Speaking of stress, dogs have the uncanny ability to reduce not only stress levels but also anxiety.
  • Being around animals in general releases oxytocin.
  • In addition to releasing oxytocin when petting a dog, mood-boosting hormones like, serotonin and prolactin are activated.
  • Since your best friend has to go for walks, this counters a sedentary lifestyle. As an added perk, spending time outdoors or working outdoors is another proven way to lift your spirits.
  • Research has found that team-mates who worked together on a project with a dog present, “ranked their team-mates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy than those who had not.”

However, not everyone may be on board with this. So, make sure your team is comfortable with this before you embark on it. For example, allergy sufferers might have to work from home or relocate.

10. Surprise your team.

Who doesn’t enjoy an unexpected, pleasant surprise? Most of us do. And that’s because a happy event or surprise can trigger dopamine release, feeds novelty bias, and motivates us to learn.

With that in mind, it also makes sense that the element of surprise can make the workplace more enjoyable. But, how can you surprise your team?

Well, that depends on what your team is into, along with other factors like your budget. But, here are some ideas worth considering;

  • Publicly recognize your team’s achievements with a leader board or a shout-out in the company newsletter.
  • Plan an office karaoke party, instead of a meeting.
  • Speaking of meetings — scrap the weekly team meeting and bring in a motivational speaker to freshen the meeting up.
  • Invite local food trucks to cater lunch.
  • Host an ice social on a Friday afternoon.
  • Bring in a yoga instructor on a Monday morning to center your team after the weekend.
  • Plan a costume party after wrapping up a significant project.
  • For hybrid or remote workers, send them a random care package, like some goodies from NatureBox or a new standing desk.

11. Open a laughter gym.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. In particular, laughter can lower stress, unite people, and boost mood. On top of that, it’s contagious — in a good way. In short, if you get a few people to laugh — it will ripple throughout the workplace.

If you’re looking for a way to introduce more laughter in your workplace, check out Laughter on Call’s laughter gym. During its fun and inclusive events, teams will exercise their creative muscles through stand-up prompts and improv games. This out-of-the-ordinary game is a solid option for both in-person and virtual teams.

12. Remind your team to unplug at the end of the day.

A person’s life should not be dominated by work to the point where they live and breathe work. That’s why at the end of the day or week, it’s best to find fun ways for employees to unwind.

For example, encourage employees to end each day with a prioritized to-do list and post it on a wall or Slack channel. As a result, everyone won’t spend the night worrying about their lists until the next day. And, as an added benefit, the next day will start more smoothly if you plan it beforehand.

Image Credit: Darlene Alderson; Pexels; Thank you!