Why us


Is all work and no play bad for business?

Is all work and no play bad for business?

The trend for office Ping Pong tables, gaming stations and the all-important beer fridge has almost become a cliche. But is there evidence to suggest that these perks improve productivity?

As children, we are encouraged to play and explore, but as we grow, the role of fun and play is given a lesser value. We are taught to follow the rules and take work seriously, and this can put a cap on innovation and engagement at work.

Creating space for a more playful approach to work can help engage employees, encourage fresh thinking and facilitate greater collaboration, leading to greater innovation and a happier, more productive team. Research by the University of Oxford showed a positive link between happiness and productivity, with evidence that happy workers are 13 percent more productive.

Play opens up the possibilities. When you say ‘work,’ often work gets you to the thought that there’s one way to do things, that there is a right answer that you have to get to, which can put a lot of pressure on you in terms of how you approach your work. Play can be very freeing. It gives you that freedom to explore a little bit, to experiment, and that’s what helps get you to different solutions that are often more innovative and that can allow you to adapt to new situations.

Michelle Leo, MD at Ideo

Play can be found in movement through exercise, creation through art or building activities, problem-solving challenges such as puzzles, and the excitement of a new challenge. For many, the problem is finding time for play, so the challenge becomes integrating aspects of play into the everyday. This can be as small as encouraging employees to take time away from their desks during breaks, whether to play a game of pool, take a walk or participate in a lunchtime yoga class.

Companies can deepen the integration of play by creating an environment that supports a more curious approach to work and allows the freedom to explore alternative solutions to problems. Employers, including the BBC and Google, even allocate time to pursue side projects during working hours, while the Lego Serious Play program provides a hands-on minds-on approach to learning, which activates parts of the brain that encourage creativity and fresh thinking.

Common mistakes

Focusing on play through competition

Not everyone is competitive, so this approach can discourage one set of employees whilst encouraging others.

Forcing fun

When participation is enforced and attendance is seen as mandatory (especially when outside of regular working hours), employees are likely to view activities with cynicism. Instead, organisers should prioritise asking employees what activities they prefer and look at how they can support those with heavy workloads to take part.

Lacking inclusivity

Often, there is one perspective on what fun is, which is set by those in leadership positions. Leaders must try to offer activities that appeal to the whole team. Consider what activities can engage a diverse range of experiences, including women, minorities and, importantly for those big team events, those who aren’t drinking.

Read more in our guide to building a compelling Employee Value Proposition. Learn how to craft an EVP that meets employee expectations and helps you to attract and retain top talent in your organisation.

Attracting talent in a competitive market

Only 29% of functional leaders report they have all the talent they need to meet current performance requirements. How can you ensure you are attracting the right talent to your organisation?

Read the guide

Get a copy of our Employee Value Proposition guide

Want to understand the key components that make a strong EVP? Dive into our latest guide.