DATE: 11/16/2015

For far too long the idea that work is not supposed to be fun has pervaded American culture. Blame it on our Puritan forebears or blame it on some of the more common methodologies propagated by the Industrial Revolution, but the average American office worker has become accustomed to looking forward to the weekend far too much.

However the contrast between “the work self” and “the personal self” became so vast, modern employers are increasingly seeking to bridge this gap by bringing fun into the workplace. In fact, today’s most progressive companies are beginning to resemble playgrounds, theme parks and childhood fantasies come to life. If only the late Robert Propst – the Herman Miller Research designer credited with creating the first cubicle – could see them now! Surprisingly to most, Miller would likely agree with such changes, as his initial prototype was originally designed with employee autonomy, flexibility and freedom in mind.

As previously mentioned, good workspace design is no longer an option. Besides working for you to secure bigger and better clients, good design has been proven to increase employee happiness (and productivity), attract top talent and retain the talent you already have. In one such study, results revealed a comfortable workplace could increase productivity as much as 16 percent, while increasing job satisfaction by 24 percent .

Comfortable workplace include ergonomic chairs, attractive workspaces and smartly designed workflows. But what if you don’t want your space to just be comfortable? What if you also want it to be fun? Here are 5 ways to do it:

Build a Slide

According to Joe Reynolds, founder of Red Frog Events, one of the best investments he ever made for his business was building a treehouse – in the middle of the office. The interior treehouse, in all its glory, is affixed with a slide, rope bridge and two meeting rooms. The company also reportedly fields hundreds of unsolicited job applicants from top-tier candidates every month, all whom have heard about “the slide.” Of course, this isn’t unique to Red Frog. San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace, is well known for it’s silver company slide, connecting its first and second floors. While such a feature would traditionally be seen as “distracting,” modern employers have found (gasp) they’re employees don’t end up ditching conference calls to slide all day.

Name Your Spaces

While bestowing conference rooms with “fun” names has recently become in vogue, Austin-based advertising agency GSDM has been doing so since its inception. The agency’s 35 conference rooms are mostly named after clients and employees (current and past). Involving staff in the naming process of spaces is a great way to boost moral. You can begin generating ideas by looking to local landmarks, street names and characters. Music, movies and pop culture are other noteworthy places to start. The sky's the limit.

Use Color Freely

Color, perhaps one of the most studied aspects of design, is an easy way to bring fun into the office. Admittedly, venturing beyond the basic family of whites (snow, eggshell, ice) can be a little intimidating. An experienced designer can make suggestions on how to brighten up your space with a range of colors. At the extreme, whole office sections can be designated with monochromatic color schemes (ie. only shades of blue in the conference room). At the more practical, accent walls can be created with bright pops of color.

Bring Your Dog to Work

In 2010, researchers at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant showed that dogs in the workplace may act as social catalysts and encourage collaboration. A subsequent study, published in the March issue of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management , found that dogs in the workplace may reduce stress and increase job satisfaction for both their owners and those they have contact with.

Consider invoking optional “bring your dog to work” days. Because what could be more fun than scratching Fido’s ears in between meetings?