In December 2014, Google was named the best place to work in the United Kingdom. Employees sang praises of the internet giant for having a “cool culture” and “leaders who understand the challenges facing the organisation”, besides free food and good pay.
Apart from that, Google is well known for implementing “20% time” to improve their employees’ development in terms of their career and other interests.
Twenty per cent of an employee’s time is dedicated to any side project they are working on that does not necessarily have to be related to the individual’s full-time job. At Google, employees get a day per week to themselves to do this.
People always say that it’s important to have interests and hobbies outside of work. But why is it that we do not immediately think of combining work with play? And in what ways can it help foster creativity at work?
Connecting the dots
As the legendary Steve Jobs once said:
“Creativity is just connecting things.”
When we are given opportunities to venture out of our usual work routine, we are more likely to take a step back and see how things are related to each other on a larger scale.
This can give us a sense of clarity and thus, more freedom to “switch things up” and make innovative contributions to our organisation.
Like it or not, almost every line of work requires some amount of creativity in order to overcome certain obstacles that can hinder progress.
Once we are able to see connections between seemingly unrelated factors, our problem solving skills can also benefit as a result.
Not only can combining work and play bring an element of fun to the workplace, it can also help us form new approaches to seemingly unsolvable problems.
Instead of constantly looking at a work-related problem through work-tinted lenses, providing time to take off those lenses and work on something fun and different for a while can help us see the problem in a brand new light.
In short, these extra activities can lead us to our very own “eureka” moments, as they can stimulate us in ways that our day jobs can’t.
Flexibility is a key attribute needed when it comes to nurturing creativity.
Allotting time for our own activities at work can also help us be more flexible, making us more creative in the ways we organise our time in efforts to strike a balance between work and extra activities of our interest.
These important factors are what incorporating play into work can do for our growth, in terms of our career and creativity. Employees can acquire the clarity needed to see relationships between anything, which can improve their problem-solving abilities and also flexibility in the working environment.
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Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 21 March 2015