Rachel Davis
1 year ago

This is a topic super close to my own heart right now and I'm developing a couple sessions around it even. so I wanted to pose a questions to the group.

What do you think is holding you back right now from bringing elements of play into sessions, workshops, or even just remote interactions.

I'm a huge fan of the concept that play and progress can co-exist and they can co-exist authentically and in a genuine way that doesn't seem forced.

I'm happy to share more of my thoughts and even resources around the topic if anyone's interested!

Maaria Tiensivu
1 year ago

I love this question Rachel. I have thought about this a lot especially in my "old" work facilitating design workshops.

One reason I can recognise for myself, is that especially coming from Finland, this was something that just did not "sit" well in the culture. People can find "play" very forced and unnatural when the culture is heavily geared towards efficiency and being professional.

This can be somewhat tackled by explaining the "why" before the play, but it still is hard for me a lot of the time in a range of contexts. Not everyone feels playful and wants to do that in the workplace, and finding ways to integrate that in a way that people feel comfortable enough to participate can be a challenge.

The reason for "why not" for these types of activities is usually just "I don’t like it". Which is fair enough, but rather challenging to work with. I feel like there's a lot of mindset work that needs to go in before integrating these types of activities for people who are not naturally open to them. :)

Rachel Davis
1 year ago

@(Loading...) What a thoughtful answer!

I see this a lot within work culture like you mentioned about being geared towards efficiency and being professional.

A quote that really stood out to me recently was:

"Childlike is not childish."

This is from the book "Playful Rebellion" by Gary Ware.

I LOVE how he talks about this. He talks about the mindset of childlike. I think talking about this helps people understand it's about opening up possibility in collaboration and innovation and is absolutely still professional.

Tess Dixon
1 year ago

This is a really good question. I like to bake some quick forms of play into stuff we're already doing, like all-team meeting and virtual retreats. The more lightweight this is, the better. I think the reason some things fail is that they're too complicated. Nobody wants to play an online game that has super complicated mechanics and takes 2 hours to learn, when you only have 30 mins to play. Simply taking turns sharing your screen and playing Quick, Draw! or playing around on a silly Miro board for a few minutes gives me way more mileage.

Something else rolling around in my head related to social / fun things at work:

Personally, I kind of hate when games and icebreakers are set up as separate, mandatory or mandatory-ish things that people are expected to attend and laugh uproariously at. I come to work to work, and it's extra nice if I also enjoy my colleagues' company and we have fun together in the course of that work, but I've got plenty of friends and fun outside of work and I don't need work to facilitate that for me. Why is "engagement" thought of as a primary measure for how good of an employee someone is? It's possible that they want to give 100% to their work, and have 0% interest in the social side. I think that should be normalized and okay in the new remote future we're creating. When we look at "disengaged" employees as problem children because they don't show up to every clam bake super enthusiastic, that feels like another office culture problem we're dragging into the remote culture space. And rewarding extroverts, big-talkers, and party-lovers over people with equally good though different characteristics. Let's not! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Priya Sood
1 year ago

We practice the following

1. Casual interactions and playful conversations in the beginning of most online meetings. We consider that when we factor the time while scheduling the meet.

2. We have fun rituals that the team really looks forward to like Online secret santa. Its a big hit.

3. We also have a fun project group where online team members can share. pics, chats and fun challenges.

Rachel Davis
1 year ago

I am loving all the responses here!

I recently ran my workshop 'Building Play into Remote Collaborations' at DesignMatters 2022 (virtually) one of the things that came out of it was really that there's this needs for a shared vocabulary, a mutual understanding of what we mean by "play" or even joy in work.

For me it's not just about social pieces or happy hours its about how can we integrate some of those concepts into work - and not have that hard line that's been drilled into us about Work vs Play. First you work then you play.

How can we flip the script, how can we shift our mindset?! I don't know all the answers but I sure do like asking the question.

Cristina Imre
1 year ago

Great question, Rachel!

I believe it all comes down to self-confidence to care less about what others are saying and show your true personality.

I experienced both worlds when things were not that great for me, and my confidence was down. Then the reverse. Same with my clients.

When you're feeling great, and OK with yourself, your playful self will show and that genuine part will attract others even more.

When down you play the conservative game, the "this is how it should be or how others are doing it". Let's play low and just blend in.

I hope this perspective helps.


Balbina Bogdanowicz
11 months ago

Thanks Rachel for starting this topic. Our team emerged from a very standard corporate office environment. Nevertheless, have been successfully working remotely as a team for over a year. We usually keep it very formal and rarely introduce informal 'playful' parts to the meetings. In December due to internal reorgs, we will all split and go to different teams. In the past we would organise a team dinner in one of our locations. This year, I am thinking about having an online event to say thanks to the team but also bring some 'fun' activity. I can see you mentioned Secret Santa already, maybe you have some more inspiration?



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