article by Zach Stevens, Graphic Designer at Bright Ideas
Taking a stand against mundane office environments and exhausted employees
Work-Life balance is a topic that has increased in conversation among business owners and coworkers alike. Essentially, it is walking the fine line between too much recreation and grinding your soul away at the office. In most cases, there seems to be almost no middle ground and there is usually a compromise between getting quality time to yourself and being successful at work.
At Bright Ideas, we’ve taken the initiative to make sure that life does not pass our employees by as they push the boundaries of LED technology and our solution was dubbed “Fun Friday.” Here’s how it works: every other Friday, our entire office engages in a social event during the last 3 hours of the work week. Majority of “Fun Fridays” involve a physical activity that requires teamwork, like escape rooms or paintball, while others focus more on relaxation and good company. No matter the plan, it always revolves around strengthening team unity outside of the work environment. When I interviewed my coworkers about how “Fun Friday” had made an impact on them, I learned that the benefits were greater than smiles and laughs. I learned that it strikes their cores in 4 profound ways.
1. It encourages work-life balance
Most Americans spend more time at work than they do with family and 50% indicated they spend more than 40 hours per week at their place of employment, according to the latest Gallup Poll. In addition to cutting in on family time, the American work ethic also cuts in on life experiences. Our “Fun Fridays” have made it possible for employees to engage in activities they otherwise would not have the time or ability to do outside of work. For example, the Bright Ideas team recently went laser tagging and half of my coworkers in attendance had never played before. Not only did many of my coworkers gain insight into the ferocity of laser combat, but the other half had the opportunity to share their knowledge and “expertise” in an effort to crush the competition. It’s one thing to have beer o’ clock every week, but it’s a whole new level when you and your coworkers get to share something completely new together.
2. Barriers between coworkers and founders/employees disappear
Does your boss intimidate you? Well, that makes sense. Essentially, they hold your paycheck in their hand and you have to make sure they are happy with your performance to continue your livelihood. You do not want to upset this individual, at all. Something I realized however, is that it becomes difficult for someone to be intimidating when you are at their house, sitting on their couch, enjoying a meal, and beating them in a board game. At that point there is no authoritarian mask to cover the person you work for, they have a soul. Suddenly you find out they share the same taste in music, movies, and sports teams as you. Furthermore, they become someone with whom you can openly share new ideas, discuss problems, and propose solutions. The same change in familiarity happens with the people who work beside you every day as well. Humanity takes the place of a person’s function in the office and enforces the idea that we more than coworkers and supervisors, we are comrades.
3. Synergy levels between coworkers increases
Human nature is collective. There have been studies that conclude this fact: a common enemy will cause blood rivals to set aside differences and eliminate the threat. Thankfully, Bright Ideas is not focused on defeating enemies so much as improving LED technology and increasing global energy awareness. When we have “Fun Friday,” the common “enemy” between coworkers takes shape in the form of opponents in games, the mountain we are hiking, or even something as simple as pizza that must be enjoyed together. No matter the challenge, we always manage to be successful when we work as a cohesive unit. The same mentality and perseverance is carried over into our work at Bright Ideas and we are all more effective because of it. Applying this to the office, the real enemy becomes anything that inhibits Bright Ideas from progressing or areas of the company that need improvement. Due to the time we’ve spent outside the office, even the most stressful situations lose their potency because we have already conquered so much together.
4. Employees feel an elevated sense of gratitude from the founders
One of the most common complaints in the American work world is that employees feel underappreciated. This doesn’t necessarily mean underpaid, but more of a lack of sincere, personal gratitude. A similar comparison would be a close friend who chose to give you cash for your birthday as opposed to a thoughtful, specific gift. The cash is great and absolutely useful, but had your friend taken the time to search for something specifically catered to you, it would be more meaningful. The concept of “Fun Friday” is not a substitute for monetary compensation, it is a method of showing genuine acknowledgement and thanks for the contributions of employees. When I asked my coworkers what their opinions were regarding the benefits of “Fun Friday,” they concluded that, most importantly, it made them feel appreciated. This appreciation inevitably drives them to work harder, experiment with new ideas, and do everything they can to make sure Bright Ideas is successful.
Is it unorthodox? Yes. Is it wasteful? Absolutely not.
One of the pillars of Bright Ideas is cutting out anything unnecessary. For us, “Fun Friday” is an investment in people and a deserved thank you. Practices such as this spawn unrivaled spirits, effective workers, and innovative solutions. As work becomes more involved in our lives, we will have to further integrate humanity into our places of employment. “Fun Friday” has allowed Bright Ideas to root itself in happiness and inspire everyone on our team to make an impact without compromising themselves.
Want to join us in making work more engaging? Ask your supervisor to give “Fun Friday” a chance, or use your authority to show your employees how much you appreciate their efforts. If neither of those are feasible, send us your resume. We are always on the lookout for talented, forward-thinking individuals that want to help us shine brighter.
Email your resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org and include any specific roles you think would suit your skill set in the subject line.