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Fun Versus Productive Work Environment

Question:

We try to have an “open” fun work environment but lately it is getting out of control. We like our employees to feel comfortable and free to banter, creating lasting and important team relationships. BUT we also have work that must be done. How do I reign this in without stifling the fun? When is having fun productive in a work environment?

Answer:

Balancing fun with a productive work environment can be like walking a tightrope. But if you do it right…you can create a productive work environment that is collaborative and fun, but not distracting to the team. Some ideas on ways to help foster the environment include:

  • Encourage the use of huddle rooms or conference rooms. If a group of individuals need to meet or even just two people — encourage it to happen outside of the main working areas so it is not distracting.
  • Set expectations to use breaks for the fun time and work for work. Minimize the banter without stifling the opportunity to collaborate.
  • Don’t be afraid to let people know when the fun gets a bit out of hand. A friendly reminder may be welcomed by some of the team who are distracted by the fun.
  • Be respectful of technological distractions. Text message tones, ringing phones, etc. can become a symphony of annoyance to some.
  • Provide many options for employees to gather outside the center of the room. Break rooms, huddle rooms, conference rooms, sitting areas all allow employees the opportunity to get away when necessary.

When Is Having Fun Productive in a Work Environment?

As stated in the article Why fun at work matters: If people are having fun, they’re going to work harder, stay longer, maintain their composure in a crisis and take better care of the organization. An increasing body of research demonstrates that when leaders lighten up and create a fun workplace, there is a significant increase in the level of employee trust, creativity and communication — leading to lower turnover, higher morale and a stronger bottom line.

The “Fun” Bottom Line

Managed correctly, open environments can add significantly to the company’s bottom line in both productivity and employee morale. Providing employees options associated with the open floor plan may just be the key to balancing that difficult walk across the tightrope.

 

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