Continued from Laughter – The Cheapest Medicine (January 25, 2012)

Exploring how humor affects us in the work place has become a very interesting study and yes, almost discipline for me. In recent weeks, I’ve explored a variety of ways to help my team cash in on the health benefits of laughter, general well being, and sunshine. It’s in my job description because at Design the Planet we realize that one of the many tools for building a successful team and brand is creating an environment that promotes humor in the work place. It’s a no-brainer: Happy workers make happy clients.

I sometimes slip and refer to work as home; everyone laughs and shakes their heads knowingly because we all understand the cost of time that is required by our day-to-day employment. It’s said that the ultimate happiness is to find something you enjoy and do that. I totally agree with the concept and for the percentage of us that can do what we enjoy, it’s great. I just happen to be one of them and, I think, most of my team fit into that category. But, there are a lot of us that are in jobs that we don’t necessarily want or like to be doing everyday – perhaps we even hate what we are doing. But even in such environments there are things that can be done to bring humor and laughter into the work place.

Here are some of the things that we are doing to create an environment that promotes fun and as a result creativity. I told you last month [see last months post here] about posting crossword puzzles on the refrigerator, which continue to be a gathering point, stress reliever and fun moment for the team. I post them right next to our espresso machine that is right next to the fridge. Our wonderful little espresso machine always creates a happy moment at the Planet and is a great gathering spot. To top it off, we have some of the best coffee in Louisiana from one of our clients, River Road Coffee, based in Baton Rouge. Every two weeks we get fresh roasted beans delivered to our door and, oh my, do we all enjoy a good espresso. Even our newbie junior designer, Marissa, has taken a liking to both espresso and crosswords – neither were in her repertoire before arriving at the Planet. We are still holding out hope for Perryn, our VP, but it’s looking grim on the coffee side of things…he’s not a fan even after 10+ years of coaxing.

Back to the games… I thought that the crosswords were getting a little too easy, so I tried shaking it up some with harder crosswords with minor success – there were grumblings – and then, while searching the ever wonderful internet, I ran across Rebus puzzles; delightful picture puzzles that tell a story or phrase and crowd pleasers for any creative team. We’ve only done a few, but I am planning for more Rebus puzzles on the refrigerator. They are also fun to create. Here’s a cool link to tell you how to create your own.

Outdoor games are still challenging as far as “billable hours” go – you can’t go out and play a 30-45 min game all the time and you may not have the space for such gaming. My “Treasure Hunt Word Search” puzzle game that I told you about last month is working well and would work for almost any office environment – indoor or out.* It gets everyone outside and in the sunshine. The first time we played, I posted the rules in an email. Our VP didn’t read the whole email and came in on the day of the game with a handful of the hidden letters that I had put outside for everyone to “find” not “take”. He still gets ribbed about it every time we play. One Friday I set it up and we ran out of “unbillable” time. Two of the team left with letters taped onto their trucks. On Monday, when I announced we were resuming the game Ren, our Illustrator, told me he had found a letter on his truck. He had taken it off for the weekend, but kept it and taped it back on his truck that morning – the heart of a true gamer.

For a more robust moment of creating well being for our team, our Chief, Adrienne Folse, recently took us to New Orleans Glassworks, a glassblowing school and storefront here in New Orleans, for an evening party to celebrate our 2011 successes. Catered by one of our clients, Nacho Mama’s, we had a grand time making glass beads, marbled paper and mini-books. After our event we walked to one of the neighborhood hot spots. On the way, we found a hopscotch board painted on the sidewalk. With a little encouragement and a found beer top, everyone on the team and most of their other halves played a round. It was great fun and generated a lot of healthy laughter. I have since borrowed a piece of my grandson’s sidewalk chalk and plan to draw a hopscotch board in the office parking lot soon.

So, stay tuned next month as I continue sharing my “discipline” of bringing humor into the workplace. I’ll also be introducing more of our team and clients and, of course, sharing more ideas for building successful brands through humor.

Coming up next month The BOT WARS.

* I promised some pictures on FB last month, so check out our Facebook page next week and, if I haven’t posted anything, I give you permission to bug me.