Who are you when you’re at work?
Are you a “break room butterfly” or more of a “cubicle cat”? When I took this New York Times quiz that gives you a personality type based on your work habits, it said that I thrive when given space to work alone and focus on projects that demand creativity and imagination, so I’ll be referring to myself as “couch koala” from now on.
While this seems like a bit of fun fluff, quizzes like this one provide employers with valuable information about the ways different people work. “In the post-pandemic era, personality tests seem to have a new relevance. They can help determine who will thrive in which work arrangements and what personality mix can maximize a team’s chance of success.”
While we’re figuring out which adorable animal represents our work selves, the pandemic has also highlighted the growing importance of having a best friend at work. “When workloads are heavy, your best friend at work is someone you feel accountable to, someone you don’t want to let down.” Not having a best friend at work can have the opposite effect, leading to a sense of isolation and lower job performance.
Here’s the point of all this: While we all have different work personalities, many workers have come to recognize that we depend on our co-workers as a source of support, connection and community.
And here’s the real point: to be intentional in our quest for connection…we need more play dates!
But wait a second. Play dates are for kids, right? Adults are meant to have productive jobs, pay our bills and do all those adulting things. But the truth is, we need to play too. “Play has long been associated with inducing stress relief, encouraging creativity, boosting relationships, building social skills and enabling emotional healing.”
While I’d say this has always been the case, we’ve been through a lot of change in the last few years. One of the most valuable lessons we learned from the pandemic is that our recipes for future health and happiness need to include play dates for community and connection—not just for our kids, but for all of us.
With that in mind, as companies try to bring their workforces back into the office they’re also making more of an effort to bring employees together in offsite events and team-building activities (the business-friendly description for play dates).
Taking Our Play Outside
We’ve covered the benefits of spending time in nature before, also known as ecotherapy. Making an intentional event out of our time in the great outdoors can enhance the effect even more, giving us a shared experience outside the confines of “work” that acts as a bond and a positive memory. Activities like surfing, skiing or hiking can certainly fit the bill, but opportunities to relax around a campfire or chill out at a mountainside retreat are equally beneficial.
Group play dates like this don’t always have to mean getting out into nature. Taking an underground city tour, working your way through an escape room or seeing a museum exhibit are all excellent options to bring urban explorers together and create an experience to remember.
When it comes to providing clothing and accessories to accompany activities like this, make sure you understand what the activity is and present options that fit. Tie-dye t-shirts, tanks, caps and pants or a beach wash sweatshirt are fun and colorful choices that automatically say “Relax!” while spending time together at a campsite or beach. Add in a Cali Throw for something that will get used both on the trip and when they get home. Options for city exploration can also emphasize a relaxed vibe, like the sleeveless polo or performance polo from TravisMathew.
Playing Close To Home
Employers who want to include remote or hybrid workers might be looking at a slightly different type of play date. Shared activities like volunteering for a local animal shelter, attending a gardening class together or even a birding expedition can bring teams together in ways that are meaningful for remote team members too.
Making sure remote workers feel part of the play date can be accomplished by the right shirt or accessory to mark the occasion. A Tommy Bahama polo or half-zip sets the right tone and is something they’ll save to wear later, while a crossbody hip pack, backpack or bag serves a practical purpose at the shared event and also serving as a memory-making keepsake for years to come.
If you have one takeaway from this article, I hope it’s this: a thriving workplace needs all kinds of workers, from couch koalas to corner office creatures, and we’ve all been through a lot recently. Connecting with one another and restoring our sense of community doesn’t require much…a little empathy, a little understanding. And we definitely need to take the time to go on more play dates.
Next month we’ll talk about another aspect of our new health and happiness recipe – our need to slow down and breathe easy. This is more than a trend, it’s a movement that affects how we live and work together. See you then!