According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 89% of working Americans spend an average of 8.5 hours every weekday and 5.6 hours per weekend day at work. That translates to roughly 90,000 hours or 1/3 of an average lifespan spent working. That’s a staggering number. In August of 2019, The Conference Board released its report on job satisfaction, with 54% of Americans reporting that they are satisfied, a three-point jump from the previous year. So, while Americans are basically satisfied with the work they do, they’re spending a lot of their lives doing it.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you’re going to do something, do it well,” and an entire generation has embraced the YOLO (You Only Live Once) philosophy. When we realized how much time we all are going to spend working, we decided there has to be a way to make the most of it. Below you’ll find 20 ways to have fun at work, presented in no particular order. These tips may not all be practical for your work situation, but we’re betting you can find plenty to help you live your best, most fun work life.
1. Decorate. Yes, we’re serious, decorate! Whether it’s your cubicle, your office, or a part of your desk, bring in those vacation photos, the children’s artwork, special mementos, or tchotchkes. Anything that brings a smile to your face and reminds you that you do, in fact, have a life outside the office.
2. Make friends. We know, you don’t necessarily go to work to make friends, but whether you like it or not, your coworkers are fixtures in your life. We’re not saying you have to become BFFs, but work friends can make coming to the office a much more pleasant experience. Remember, nobody knows what you go through at work better than those who go through it with you.
3. Create happy moments. Whether it’s leaving a note of encouragement on a coworker’s desk or offering a compliment to another coworker, bring a bit of joy to the office. We all like receiving compliments, knowing we’re appreciated, and feeling like we’re not alone. Bonus? Making these small gestures will not only improve office morale, but it’ll make you feel good too.
4. Create or join an office team or club. Thinking about joining the office softball team? Do it. Ever wonder if your colleagues like the same books you do? Consider starting an office book club. It’s all about connections. The more connected we are to those we work with, the more productive we’ll be. Seriously—you may not think of softball or book club as team-building exercises, but they are. You’ll more effectively work together on group projects; the more comfortable you feel with one another, the more likely you are to put your more creative ideas out there for discussion.
5. Get up and get out. Make time every day to get away from your desk. Go for a walk or get in a mid-day workout. Physical movement gets the juices flowing, can give you that afternoon pick-me-up (without the added calories), and can afford you the opportunity to take a colleague with you. Invite a colleague to walk with you to a nearby coffee shop and talk through a work issue that’s been bothering you. Or invite someone to be your gym buddy. Alternatively, take a few minutes to yourself to recharge your batteries. You’ll get more done and feel better, too.
6. Solve a riddle. Engage in a good, old-fashioned, non-work puzzle. Do a crossword or word search. Break out that Sudoku you’ve been meaning to get to. Better yet, institute an office-wide puzzle break. Consider emailing a daily riddle challenge to everyone in the office. Give a small prize or bragging rights to whoever solves it first. Just make sure you check with your boss first and get permission. Even if your boss doesn’t go for it, consider limiting it to just your division or team.
7. Celebrate. Yes, a festive atmosphere gets everyone in a happy mood. Celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries, or get into the holiday mood. Consider implementing a “Fun Committee” to keep track of celebrations, just make sure to rotate duties so everyone gets a chance to just show up.
8. Allow spontaneity. This may be a little difficult if you’re not the boss, but encourage spontaneity where you can. For instance, maybe the office is super quiet and there aren’t any clients currently in the building—declare it’s party time and crank up the tunes. Let everyone get a chance to get up, dance, chill for a song or two. Then go back to business as usual.
9. Send handwritten notes. We admit this suggestion is mostly for bosses and managers. Take a little time to send handwritten notes of appreciation to your employees. Then arrange for them to be delivered “anonymously” at random times. Your employees will appreciate knowing you see and admire the efforts they’re making, and you’ll get a little joy knowing you’ve made them smile.
10. Go on work outings. Take a small bit of time and get the office out of the office. Arrange for everyone to have a picnic lunch at a nearby park or organize an after-work activity, such as an Escape Room adventure. Everyone gets a chance to interact outside of the office environment and, depending on what you do, you could just sneak some team-building skills into the mix.
11. Do group exercises. Did you know that schools in Japan start each school day with group exercises? Many Japanese companies have adopted a similar strategy. Not only does everyone get a chance to get up and get moving, but group exercise has several positive benefits, including increased productivity. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just a few minutes of shared activity.
12. Give yourself a reward. Give yourself permission to celebrate a job well done for every task completed. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a high five, or five minutes to revel in your success, find a ritual that is rewarding for you, something small that serves to remind you of your accomplishments and that you rock.
13. Meditate. The benefits of meditation are varied, but they can include increased productivity, creative breakthroughs, and stress relief. Take a few minutes every day to meditate. You can find countless tutorials on the internet or you can create your own meditation routine.
14. Play a harmless prank. Yes, we’re giving you permission to be a little immature. Just keep it harmless. Plaster a coworker’s space with Post-It notes, or pin a funny comic up. Maybe rearrange items on someone’s desk. Just make sure that whatever you do will be received in the playful way you mean it. And be ready to fall victim yourself.
15. Start a charity drive. What better way to promote feelings of well-being and happiness than by doing something meaningful for those less fortunate. Take a favorite charity and organize a drive or benefit. Or poll your coworkers. Just get the office involved. Not only will you all be working together for a common cause, but you’ll also feel good about helping others.
16. Track tasks with a productivity app. “There’s an app for that.” Take those nagging details you just hate to track and let an app do it for you. You’ll relieve some niggling stress and you’ll have an accurate accounting should you need it, too. Whether you setting reminders or tracking taskers, it’ll relieve you to know that the app has your back. No more worrying you’re forgetting something. Some even allow you to share reminders with your coworkers so everyone remains on the same page. It’s as easy as finding the right app for you and downloading it.
17. Have regular no-business meetings. Schedule regular meetings where you talk about anything but business. Whether you discuss the latest water-cooler Netflix show or how the local sports teams are faring that season, make time for small talk. Not only might you learn that you do have something in common with that difficult-to-know colleague, you’ll be giving your brain permission to turn itself off for a few minutes. These meetings don’t have to be long, but they do need to be regular.
18. Organize goofing-off time. Start a pick-up basketball game at lunch. Or hold a trash can basketball tournament toward the end of the day. Maybe a speed board game event is more up your alley (think speed dating only with board games). Organize times to set aside work and have some silly fun. Put a white board up in the break room where everyone can jot ideas down and then pick a few to implement.
19. Get some toys. We know, it sounds strange, but pick up some Pez dispensers or slinkies or hula hoops and bring them to the office. Perhaps a couple of pool noodles for mock sword fights or a few coloring books. Keep a “toy box” in the break room where employees can go and pick a toy for a little stress relief. Trust that “what happens in the break room will stay in the break room.”
20. Start a 30-day happiness challenge. Not sure what that is? Do a quick internet search and you’ll learn all about it. Challenge all your coworkers to complete the challenge. Not only will you all gain a little happiness, but work productivity will rise as well, and everyone will be better for it.