5 guilt-free ways to have fun at work

All work and no play makes you a dull employee.

You spend about a third of your life at work—yikes!—so isn't it about time you had some fun with it? You should be nodding. Here's why: Not only does laughter reduce stress, among many other health benefits, it can also create strong bonds and a positive work environment. And who hates on fun anyway?

According to a Monster poll, 30% of those surveyed believe that office celebrations, dress-up days, initiatives, games, campaigns and challenges have the most potential to make a job fun, while another 29% say in-office perks, such as free snacks, ping-pong tables and nap pods do the trick.

This Friday, Jan. 27, is National Fun at Work Day so we challenge you to spice up your work life with one of these easy moves to break up your 9-to-5 routine. 

Decorate your workspace


Not only should you add a little pizzazz to your cubicle to brighten up your workspace, but research shows wall art can also help your mood and productivity—not to mention, it's a great way to get your whole team or department in on the fun.

Work together to add a little color and life to the corporate scene with work-appropriate photos, plants, knickknacks, posters and other quirky office decorations. You could always try creating funky name tags or finding celebrity doppelgängers to place on the name tags (this can often do the trick). 

Take a break or two


Simple, but you'd be surprised at how many of us have sit-at-your-desk-and-don't-leave syndrome. (Catchy, right? Oh and that number's 86% of Americans, if you're wondering.) So block off some time on your calendar for mini breaks, get off your tush and hit up your game room, go for a walk or take advantage of any of your work perks—that's what they're there for. 

“Working in tech requires a lot of computer-screen time, so we like to balance that out with some fun work breaks,” says Meagan Rhodes, digital marketing lead for @Pay, an express payment technology company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Everyone here is armed with a Nerf gun, which is great for a spontaneous game within the office.”

Find some work BFFs


Gallup research shows that people who have friends at work increase their productivity, are more engaged and are more likely to say they have the opportunity to perform their best every day, says ​Zachary A. Schaefer, president and founder of the communication consulting firm Spark the Discussion in St. Louis. Sounds like a win-win. Plus, it helps to have a comrade handy for venting when things aren't all sunshine and rainbows. 

"It's vital to connect with others on a personal level in the workplace," he says. If you don't know where to start, these are five work besties you definitely want in your inner circle

Get in on some of the fun


If you’re not sure about having fun in the office or aren’t sure what kind of fun is appropriate, take inspiration from others to see where the bar is set.

“When your antics are judged by a group, you are less likely to cross the line toward behaving unprofessionally," says Amy Lynn, a digital marketing analyst at Windsor Circle in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. 

Important note: Have fun with your team, but don’t slack off—that sends the wrong message. Balance is key. Keep a running list of your accomplishments or a to-do list of your priorities so you can justify your time. Ahead of where you need to be? Say hello to freedom. 

“Being an awesome team, working together, managing time, but still not getting burnt out is the only way to show management that having fun while working is OK,” Lynn says.

Get senior leaders involved in some 'fun planning'


If an office with a pool table or Nerf guns sounds too good to be true, consider taking the plea for fun to senior management. “It’s a proven fact that happier employees are more productive employees,” says corporate trainer Dave Fleming. “Get senior leaders involved in the big ideas. Believe it or not, they can actually have fun, too. Plus, they will see the benefits and ensure budgets for future fun activities.”

A simple idea could be a “Five Minutes of Fun” at the end of weekly team meetings, but Fleming says the most fun ideas are often unexpected and unannounced. “It can range from the simple to the large scale.”

And if you've tried these moves and your work-life balance and/or happiness isn't changing for the better, there are always these five companies with crazy awesome perks