During my last job, at a design agency in London, we had a pool table. At 530 everyday, almost like clockwork, 2-4 of us would go and shoot some stick. It was a great semi release, we would end up talking about projects or developments in the world of technology more often then not. When we moved offices and ditched the pool table a large part of me felt that was a mistake, but I couldn’t articulate why.
At Yahoo! we have pool, foosball and ping pong tables and though I rarely get the chance to play these days it’s good to know they’re there. I’ve had some good conversations about life, work, philosophy and politics around these tables. One of the best times I’ve had at Yahoo! has been when we went out to play golf in the middle of Soho, not only was the golf fun but in winning the closest to the pin competition I’ve been inspired to play more golf. There was also some great work-related conversation that evening in a relaxed non-traditional environment.
And then I read about the Google Games (hat tip: Brad Feld) where students from MIT and Harvard came in and played various physical, mental and just plain fun games. Great recruitment technique if you ask me.
Last week I came across an article in the London Business School Business Strategy Review regarding the role of play at work. It’s weird but I’ve always felt that having a playful outlet was important to being able to work effectively. And this article makes that case.
If/When I start my own company I think play will play an important part in recruitment, engagement and strategy. If for no other reason then the fact that its fun and we spend way too much time at work not to have fun there.