Wednesday 3rd August is National Play Day, inspired in part by the fact that over 80% of adults feel that children should be encouraged to play more outdoors because it builds community spirit. Yet we live in a society where just 20% of children play outside their homes, whereas 30 years ago that figure was 70%.
Play isn’t just diminishing in the lives of children. As workplaces become busier and leaner there is less time for informal conversations and light hearted activity. This drive for efficiency might not be quite as good for business as you’d think. Comedian, psychologist and successful businessman in his own right John Cleese said “If you want your people to be more creative, give them more time to play.”
Even respected academics have found that play can be good for business. “Play at work improves employees’ motivational and cognitive processes and diversionary play fosters creativity. Ultimately, it helps organisations generate ideas for their new products and processes, respond to new challenges and create a social context that promotes on-going creativity” wrote Professor Babis Mainemelis & Sarah Ronson of London Business School back in September 2006.
So play in the workplace not only increases creativity and innovation, but also builds a more social and friendly culture in which colleagues are more likely to communicate in person rather than by email.
In terms of learning Confucius famously said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Wild animals learn to hunt through play, children develop their fine motor skills through play yet when adults want to learn we pick up a book or listen to a lecture. This month marks our 20th anniversary at Fresh Tracks and throughout those two decades we’ve been creating lots of ways for teams to play and learn – so let’s play not just on Wednesday, but every day.
Let us know if you think play is important.