The point of play is that there is no point. Alfie Kohn

The notion of adults engaged in play – especially in the workplace – seems to many to be a colossal waste of time.  What?!  Pay people to just play? But that’s what more and more organizations are doing, as awareness grows that providing employees with unstructured play time fosters innovation and creative solutions.

adults play

Therein lies the paradox: when adults purposely engage in purposeless activities, it holds space for fresh ideas, better relationships and imaginative solutions. In Balanced Leadership terms, sometimes you have to value and make space for the love based world to get ahead in the fear based world (fight for it if you have to!)

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In the fast-paced, results-oriented environment we live in, people can get so caught up in the frenzy of work that the very idea of stopping for “play time” may seem ridiculous. But paradoxically, setting aside time for employees that is simply left unstructured is increasingly common in organizations seeking to increase innovation and creative problem-solving.  It’s during these regular periods of play that employees are able to explore new ways of looking at their products and services that ultimately benefit the organization.

It is also a great way for people to make friends with people in departments they may never have had contact with, or see the humanity of a person they keep getting into loggerheads with.  Who knows what new ideas may arise from this cross-pollination? Or maybe having a conversation with someone at work that has nothing to do with the problem at hand will be a great stress reliever.  You can’t plan the outcome.  That’s the point. However, as this article points out,, play at work can increase productivity and innovation, while reducing stress and burnout.  Play at work is not a frill but a necessity.

Organizations that have reaped the benefits of unstructured time often describe play as the competitive advantage.  In Balanced Leadership though, the results of play in the workplace shows that two worlds need to be kept alive in the workplace.  The fear-based world is about results, planning and competition.  The love-based world is about imagination, joy and humour.  The fear world is about doing, the love is about being. Play allows us to simply be, with no end in mind, no goals, no purpose, and no results expected.  Play personifies the love-based world, a space without critique, targets or designated outcomes. As more and more organizations are learning, we need the best of both our worlds to be fully successful.

play to learn