Making work fun...sometimes this seems like an oxymoron, it's called work for a reason, right? But we are all familiar with the proverb "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Regardless of industry, job title and role, we all need breaks within our day to allow our brains to recharge. For some this may mean water cooler breaks or coffee runs, but for others this means a few minutes on Facebook or making sure to take their lunch break away from their desk.
As creative leaders we know how important these mental breaks are for our staff. Without mental breaks their creativity may be pigeonholed leading to stale, uninspired outputs in addition to an increased error rate or otherwise decrease in quality. Thus one of our roles is to ensure our team takes adequate mental breaks, which may include planned, as well as spontaneous, activities. Either way, for several reasons I suggest identifying a cheerleader or cheerleading team within your department to own this responsibility. First, you have enough on your plate as it is. Second, your cool factor seriously decreased as you climbed the corporate ladder (which presents a correlating factor of your increasing age which can detract from "coolness" as well). And lastly, your team will just be better at getting people engaged and excited by what can sometimes be pretty hokey, but meaningful activities.
Across the past year, the Cella team has been jotting down some of these "fun-along-the-way" activities, which we have compiled here for you and your cheerleaders to consider implementing with your teams. Enjoy!
Anyone on the Team Can Lead/Organize
1. Lunch and learns
- Review new techniques or features in software packages
- Watch Ted.com videos
- Project rewinds (team members talk about the various steps of projects that lead to the final output)
2. Book clubs
- Non-work: The Kite Runner, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, non-fiction memoirs, etc. (Books with movies coming out soon are great, as they lead to another bonding opportunity after work if folks are interested.)
- Professional development: Slideology, A Whole New Mind, The Back of the Napkin
3. Pro bono projects and charity work
- Making holiday cards or valentines for over-seas soldiers
- Helping high school students write/edit their college essays
- Identity and collateral design for non-profits and charities
- Auctioning artwork created by the staff for a related cause (such as one benefiting art education in elementary schools)
4. Holiday/Time of Year Events
- Pumpkin painting contest
- Thanksgiving potluck
- Cinco de Mayo happy hour
- Secret Santa exchange
5. Establish a "Graveyard" site for the best of the killed projects
- Instead of allowing great, but unselected concepts fade away on a designer's desktop, dedicate a wall to celebrating these ideas
6. Create a "Blog of Inspiration" for team members to post pieces of creative inspiration and share links to inspiriting sites
7. Decorate the creative space to inspire great work
- Make a creative display (not just a shelf) to show award winning work and the awards together
- Start an achievement wall to display top work
- If you're not allowed to hang artwork or otherwise "deface" the walls, use a projector to display creative work and awards on the wall
8. Create a resource room to store books, magazines, paper samples and other sources of creative inspiration--even better if you can double the room or space up as a decompression chamber and have bean bag chairs or other non-standard issue office furniture
9. Ask each team member to create a piece of artwork to display near their cubicle
- Some standardization can lead to a cool decorating theme, e.g., everyone paints a 5x5 canvas that is hung outside their cube
10. Organize competitions
- A Wii bowling tournament
- Company jeopardy
Activities/Policies You'll Need to Approve or Lead
11. Flex work schedules
- Consistency is important when approving schedules; consider offering an early and/or late shift (e.g., 7am-4pm, 11am-8pm)
12. Gift card programs
- Consider empowering your frontline managers with small budgets for gift cards--$10 iTune gift cards are great thank yous for in-the-moment appreciation and music is a great source of inspiration!
13. Field trips
- Art museums
- Artisan markets
- Tours of agencies or best-in-class in-house groups
14. Out-of-office assignments
- Send staff out on directed photo shoots (e.g., bring back at least 3 pictures of things that communicate "x")
- Send staff out on scavenger/treasure hunts with teammates and/or clients
15. Name the conference rooms a funny name like "The Buff" or "The Jacuzzi"
16. Invite clients and their kids into the creative studio for field trips or on bring your child to work days
What have you done with your team? Please comment on the blog to share ideas with other creative leaders.