Another week, another city! This week I’m in Atlanta where I’m getting the opportunity to learn all about highway transportation systems as I sit in hours upon hours of soul-deflating gridlock. (Am I kidding? Only slightly.) Quite frankly, though, I really enjoy visiting Atlanta. You’ve got a mix of great weather, a thriving big city, and some great restaurants (which this foodie enjoys greatly!)
Anyway, on the flight into the Big Peachy Peach (which should become Atlanta’s nickname, by the way) I was listening to an interesting podcast from the TED Radio Hour entitled “The Meaning of Work.” Aside from learning some great insight into our psychology towards work, I also learned that apparently 99% of people are utterly dissatisfied with what they spend 60% of their waking hours doing.
How can that be? Why are we as a society so disenfranchised with the thing we spend more time doing than anything else? The podcast offered several possible reasons, but here’s the one for me which stands out above the rest – we are intentionally trying to make work not fun. Decades and decades of lawsuits have led most of Corporate America to remove all fun from the workplace. Fun is counterproductive, humor can be misconstrued, jokes can turn nasty – and so all of it must be eliminated. So the logic goes.
I, however, disagree. So in order to reverse this trend, I’ve looked for ways in our day-to-day where we can interject a little bit of fun back into our working lives. I’ve even surveyed some friends of mine for their suggestions, so these examples work in a variety of industries and business settings. Here we go!
Change your Out of Office message to accurately reflect your sentiments towards work.
Most OOO messages are the same. “Hi, I’ll be out of the office until next Monday. Tom is covering my emails. I’ll return all messages when I return. Thanks!” BORING!!! Try being honest with yourself and everyone else. “I’m out until Monday. I told everyone I’d be checking emails but I’m not going to, so call someone who cares or you can wait until then. Oh, and when I get back I’m probably just going to delete all the emails I received while I was gone so let’s just set up a lunch date to talk about what you need.” Or my personal favorite……”I’m out until Monday doing whatever the $#*% I want. Why do you care? I don’t advocate the last one. It could get you fired. But that’s a hilarious way to get shown the door if you ask me.
Speak and write in hastags.
I’m a firm believer we could all have 3-hour workdays if we would stop filling them with useless crap. In fact, some companies have proved it. For example, Tower Paddleboards went to a 5-hour workday to allow employees time back with their families and to explore their passions. What did they find? People will work really hard for 5-hours and get everything accomplished that they need in time. So while that may not work with your company, speaking and writing in hashtags will at least make a dent in your 10-hour workday. Try it. Here’s how a meeting could sound:
- “Hey Ben. What did you take away from yesterday’s meeting about the company’s performance?”
- “#profitsup #manageexpenses #bonuspossible?”
- “Yeah, me too. We are having a great year. Do you want to go out and celebrate after work?”
- “#notachance #workfriends #notrealfriends”
We’ve all heard this one before. Normally saved for corporate retreats or those all-day strategy meetings, Office Bingo is a great way to bring levity to the setting. However, have you ever tried it on a daily basis? If you don’t know how to play, it’s simple. Take a 5×5 matrix and fill it with common jargon and lingo you hear frequently in your office. Or it could be something people physically do or perform. For example:
- Language: Anytime someone uses an acronym or uses a word like “leverage” or “collaboration”
- Actions: Anytime somebody writes something on a whiteboard with no logical reason for doing it (I’m a huge offender on this one by the way. I literally do this 14 times a day). Or, another example might be anytime your boss stands up and paces while he/she is trying to make a point.
There are countless other options you can choose from, but hopefully this is enough to get you started. If you have some other ideas, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Maybe after a few days, we’ll have a new BINGO board for each day of the week. In the meantime, get back to making work fun again! Because Boring Doesn’t Have to be a Business Requirement!