Work Hard, Play Hard
This past year our team intentionally created space for each other by way of a two day in-house retreat. We wanted to cater to each other and our culture the way we do with our wonderful clients. The goal was to build deeper trust, empathy, and true connection by diving deep and exploring what both our company and individual values were, and, more importantly, we wanted to play together. Yes, you read that correctly. We made time to just play.
Countless studies have shown that adults have neglected the art of play, and our lives have suffered greatly from it. Now, I don’t mean play as in games; I mean play as in the Wild Wild West of no rules except the ones you create on the spot type play. That no winners and no motivation other than sheer joy kind of play.
It. Was. Awesome.
Taking inspiration from Creative Sprint, an interactive book by Richmond artist Noah Scalin, we engaged in a sprint of our own. This exercise is no different than what we bring to our clients—the art of getting out of your comfort zone and flipping the script on your day-to-day routine. The objective was to simply engage with your small team of about four in acts of social defiance, document it in some way, then share out the experience. Boundaries and comfort levels were to be determined by each group, reinforcing the rules of mutual autonomy typically found in play.
Teams shared out tales of racing total strangers down stretches of sidewalk, engaging in variations of the classic Red-Light-Green-Light, and in some slight law bending à la wandering into possibly restricted spaces. Each team walked through the process of establishing their own rules (negotiating boundaries and risk management) and the follow through (planned vs. spontaneous). Teams ended in sharing what worked, what flopped, what was hilarious and what felt risky.
The results were exactly what we had hoped for. In stepping out of our day-to-day routines through play, our team was able to build deep trust with each other and bolster creativity. We all came back to the share out excited to walk through each experience and showcase video evidence of breaking societal norms.
For me personally, it created a deeper appreciation for the folks on my specific team. I saw playfulness in people I had pegged as serious. I saw strategy in people I had assumed held more of a go-with-the-flow mentality. The act of play asked that we take off our “work” hats and let our inner child run free for a while.
Ultimately, these flip-the-script exercises created bonds in our relationships that weren’t solely centered in the realm of work.
Although we ought to be able to consistently experience these moments of play both in our personal and professional lives, the reality is that a majority of us don’t prioritize the power of play at all.
We’ve become engrossed in the world of deadlines, productivity, and the #hustle, but at what cost? What if we committed in 2020 to play more? What would that look like for you? For your team?
Will you find that creative spark you’ve been searching for? Probably. Will you feel more connected to those around you? Definitely. I’d say it’s worth it.