The Importance of Play in the Work Environment

When a team clicks, work becomes more like play.

We say this on our website, and it’s not lip service. This is core to our values; it’s built into our DNA, and, frankly, it could not be more important for a creative team. Below I outline my top 4 reasons why play is critical at work.

It’s been said that the opposite of play is work. But really, it’s boredom. And boredom can lead to withdrawal and even depression. So, we make time for play as often as we can at The Image Shoppe. Whether it’s beer:30, an ice cream trip, a creative team-building exercise out of the office, some foosball, or an organized field trip, we truly value and recognize the importance of play at work.

Every year we hold an annual TIS retreat to break away and primarily play for a day. Sure, we do some team-building exercises, but primarily we just connect with one another, laugh, drink, move, and play. This year’s retreat was no exception : )

Check out this awesome video Troy made documenting our retreat on the TIS Facebook page!

The benefits of play at work are immeasurable.

1. Play relieves stress, lessens anxiety and reduces the risk of depression.

When we play, just like when we exercise, our bodies release endorphins—the chemicals that boost mood. Let’s admit it, we’re all overcommitted and our stress levels are doing nothing but rising as a collective whole. Making time for play could not be more important.

2. Play creates stronger relationships.

We spend more awake time during the week at work than we do at home. As such, our coworkers are really more like family, whether we like it or not… ; ) And it’s critical that we get along with one another. When we play together, we strengthen our bonds, and it becomes easier to resolve conflicts. Having fun together makes it easier to halt those little aggravations before they build up into blowups.

3. Play decreases sickness and sick days.

So you’re bought in here, but how do you really convince your boss to add a play date on your agenda at work? It has been shown that play at work helps employees lead a more balanced life, and actually has been shown to decrease absenteeism and health care costs.

4. Play boosts productivity and leads to innovative ideas.

When adults play, we give ourselves permission to take a break from the need to accomplish goals. Rather, we’re allowing ourselves to discover something new. It's also important not to worry about failing in front of your teammates. Once you feel safe, it’s ok to fail, and you’ll learn more from that failure.