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Play Boosts Productivity
May 17, 2023
Play is foundational for bonding relationships and fostering tolerance… It’s all about the generation of diversity—diversity of interactions, diversity of behaviors, diversity of connections.
-Isabel Behncke Field ethologist and primatologist

In a 2020 Brigham Young University study, teams that played a collaborative (video) game together for just 45 minutes increased their productivity on a task by 20%. According to a report on the study in Forbes, “Actually, the reasons play helps teams and their results—and the reasons play is also good for your career growth—are well-founded. Company cultures that allow for play are better able to tap into the best in their employees, and employees themselves can bring more effectiveness into their work.”

In the Out of the Box Training on “Playfulness at Work,” author Glory Ressler reflects on both children and adults at play: We understand that children learn how to interact and engage with others through play and thereby come to know more about themselves and the world. Play also provides an opportunity to release energy, build confidence and self-esteem, unleash creativity and self-regulate. It is a means of expression, enjoyment and, often, indoor and outdoor physical activity.

However, if children need these skills to prepare for an unknown future and can obtain them, in part, through play, then I believe that now more than ever, educators and caregivers from across the world also need the same skills and opportunity. How are we coping with the stress of unknown futures? Are we not all being called in one way or another to learn and develop our social intelligence, creativity, cross-cultural competence and resiliency?

 My experience has taught me that when we spend even a little bit of time encouraging play at work, we reap the benefits personally and in our programs and services. We are happier and more relaxed, focused, creative and fully engaged at work.

What will you do to bring play to work this week?


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · May 18, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Matt, what a very excellent point! How often we turn to what we believe is valued by the mainstream to justify our work rather than working to explain the core importance of what we do. There are many other benefits for adults I could have highlighted. Thank you for pointing that out.

Matt Karlsen · May 17, 2023
Center for Playful Inquiry
Portland, OR, United States

I'm intrigued by how the BYU research finding is what is elevated to the title here. While "productivity" is the valued finding of that corporate-oriented research, that is not the case with the excerpts from Ressler and Behncke Field.
What do we lose when we prioritize productivity when we think about play?

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