The business world moves fast these days. New technologies and marketing ideas pop up all the time, so professionals have to be willing to try new things to stay competitive. One trend catching on is using playful games and activities at conferences, retreats, and other work events. At first, this might sound weird or unprofessional. But research and real-world experience show the big benefits of playful relationship-building at work.
Games, icebreakers, and fun interactions are popping up more at professional get-togethers. Many folks still think work should be super serious and formal. But attitudes are starting to shift as companies realise the good stuff that comes from lightening up.
Playing games together helps coworkers open up. It lets them step outside their regular work roles and connect as humans. This leads to stronger trust, communication, and teamwork within the organisation. Adding playful components also makes work events more engaging and dynamic. Instead of sitting through boring lectures, people are up and active solving fun challenges together. This boosts energy, sparks creativity, and gets everyone pumped up.
Forward-thinking companies are starting to intentionally build play into their programs. For example, the software company Intuit has new hires do lots of improv exercises together during orientation. Although it's silly, it teaches important skills like listening, communicating, and collaborating. Other companies are adding fun activities like yoga, comedy shows, and dance parties to their yearly meetings. While different from the norm, playful stuff like this brings people together.
At first glance, play time might seem pointless or distracting from serious work matters. But research shows it actually provides real benefits for organisations.
Doing team building activities in relaxed, social settings makes for stronger relationships between coworkers. Employees who connect in fun ways have higher trust in each other. This trust leads to better communication and collaboration across teams and departments. And this leads to greater innovation, productivity, and flexibility within the company.
In customer-facing roles, playful interactions with clients can increase likability and sales. A little humour makes professionals seem more down-to-earth. Clients also see playful people as more creative and human. These positive feelings often lead to repeat business and referrals.
Studies back this up too. Companies where managers encourage humor and fun have higher employee engagement, less turnover, and better financial results. Work matters should absolutely be taken seriously. But sprinkling in playful connections has proven to boost work success.
Networking games are a great example of how play can help build work relationships. Rather than boring lectures or stiff mix-and-mingle sessions, event planners can use fun games to spark meaningful conversations.
Popular options include speed networking, mystery partners, scavenger hunts, trivia, video game tournaments, improv skits, and group challenges. Each game gives people a way to break the ice, chat naturally, and find common interests. A little friendly competition keeps energy levels high and gives shyer folks an easy icebreaker.
Some may think games like twister or karaoke seem unprofessional at formal business functions. But these activities get people talking, laughing, and thinking creatively. The fun might seem unproductive, but it builds connections that evolve into collaborative work relationships.
The pandemic sped up the switch to digital in business. With less in-person meetings and events, professionals have turned to virtual collaboration. And many companies plan to use more digital technologies like blockchain—41% of marketing managers want to use it for ads. This shows a bigger shift to digital across business.
Luckily, playful networking games can transition seamlessly online. Web apps allow interactive games and activities in video breakout rooms. Event platforms can incorporate playful interactions using augmented reality (AR) effects. Some organisations have virtual hosts guide attendees through everything from trivia nights to dance battles!
While some struggle with the switch to digital, playful online team building makes screen interactions more dynamic and engaging. It breaks up the monotony of continuous video calls and replaces stiff small talk with fun and friendly competition. Professionals embracing playful approaches can keep building strong relationships—whether together IRL or connecting online.
Playful interaction contradicts most folks' views of professional behaviour. But human beings crave real connections and enjoyable experiences. Finding the right balance of professionalism and playfulness has big benefits for people, teams, and organisations.
Sprinkling in purposeful games and laughs at company events helps break down walls and build stronger bonds. These connections lead to incredible improvements in teamwork, innovation, and business success.
Rather than avoiding new ideas like playful networking games, professionals should see them as tools for measurable personal and company growth. The future favors those who effectively mix work and play.